Aurora, Illinois, March 7, 2016 (athletics.aurora.edu) – Aurora University, an NCAA Division III institution, announced the addition of women’s ice hockey to the varsity sport offerings at AU. Women’s ice hockey will begin in the 2017-2018 season and become AU’s 23rd collegiate sport.
“Women’s hockey was a natural fit as we continuously look for ways to accommodate the interests and abilities of prospective students,” said Director of Athletics Jim Hamad. “We recognize that there are many high school students looking for an opportunity to play competitive hockey at the intercollegiate level while enjoying a quality educational experience. Hockey roots run deep in the greater Chicago area and this is another exciting opportunity for students at AU and the campus community.”
AU will become an official NCAA Division III program and a member of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) in 2017-2018 and be eligible for the Slaats Cup Playoffs and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The NCHA will expand to eight teams for the fast-approaching 2016-2017 season with the addition of Northland College. Current NCHA members Adrian College and Lake Forest College rank among the best in Division III. AU will bring the highly competitive conference to nine teams in the fall of 2017.
According to the NCAA, during the 2015-2016 season, a total of 58 women’s varsity programs competed in Division III. AU will become just the second NCAA Division III women’s program in the state of Illinois, joining NCHA peer Lake Forest College.
Aurora University is a member of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC), Midwest Women’s Lacrosse Conference, Midwest Men’s Lacrosse Conference and the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association. The NACC began its first season of competition in the fall of 2006 and consists of 12 colleges and universities from the shared-border states of Illinois and Wisconsin. Member schools include: Alverno College, Aurora University, Benedictine University, Concordia University Chicago, Concordia University Wisconsin, Dominican University, Edgewood College, Lakeland College, Marian University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Rockford University and Wisconsin Lutheran College.
Aurora University currently sponsors 22 sports; all of the 18 Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference sponsored sports as well as men’s hockey, men’s and women’s lacrosse and women’s bowling. Men’s teams in the NACC include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field. Women’s NACC squads are fielded in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, and volleyball.
Aurora University is located in Aurora, Illinois – the second largest city in the state – about 40 miles west of downtown Chicago. The women’s hockey team will play and practice at the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva, located just north of Aurora. The arena houses two ice sheets (NHL and Olympic), a hockey shop, training center and restaurant.
AU will begin the process of hiring a head coach for the women’s hockey program in the coming weeks with information on the highly competitive women’s hockey position to be made available on the Aurora University website.