24 varsity sports currently play at the Division 1 level for Indiana University.
These sports all have scholarships available to give to players, top-notch facilities, and team officials that organize their schedules and travel arrangements.
At the club level, there are no scholarships available, no Sports Information Director, and the coaches are essentially in charge of running the team.
But for the IU Club Hockey Team, they try to ignore the â€œclubâ€ tag and represent Indiana just like every other sport.
â€œFor us, we try and consider ourselves more than just a club sport,â€ IU Head Coach Jan Jas said. â€œWe try and represent Indiana University and for us that is all (the club label) means.â€
Junior forward Mike Grainda is grateful that he is still able to play the sport he loves at the collegiate level.
â€œIt means a lot to me that we do still get to play hockey at a very competitive level,â€ Grainda said. Â â€œWe play a lot of tough competition nationwide that is at the Division 1 level, which is something we like to take pride in. To me, Iâ€™m just glad I get to do what I want to even though it is not available at the Division 1 level at Indiana.â€
Entering 2011, there are 59 universities competing at the Division 1 rank. Due to the limited number of teams, the schools are all part of hockey-only conferences. These conferences are completely unrelated to the conferences that the other sports compete in.
Penn State is the most recent team from the Big Ten to move to Division 1 (this is their first year), making them the sixth school from the Big Ten along with Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, and Wisconsin.
The Big Ten conference rules allow for a conference championship as long as six universities sponsor the sport, so a plan has been set for the Big Ten to officially become a Division 1 hockey conference beginning in the 2013-2014 academic year.
When asked about the possibility of going to Division 1 and joining the Big Ten, Coach Jas expressed that it is out of his hands.
â€œSome higher up Indiana University representatives have to answer that,â€ Jas said.
â€œIt requires a lot of case study and background financial things that would have to happen down the road, but I do think there are some efforts from people around Indiana that would love to have a Division 1 hockey team.â€
One thing that would have to happen in order for Indiana to become a varsity sport is the creation of a new hockey facility.
Since itâ€™s opening in 1996, the Frank Southern Ice Arena has been the home for the IU Club Hockey Team.
Unlike most IU facilities, the rink is not on or near campus, as it sits behind Bloomington South High School about 10 minutes from campus. While Frank Southern has gotten the job done in itâ€™s 15 years of existence, it is hard to believe that it could support a Division 1 athletic program.
Another focus for the team in efforts to move up is to grab the attention and support from Indiana students and fans.
â€œIt requires more enthusiasm, and a lot of effort on our part,â€ Grainda said. â€œWe want to give people incentive to come whether itâ€™s just us inviting people or creating promotions for game day.â€
Coach Jas agreed that in order to get more fans to come see them in action, it would require extra effort from the team to reach out.
â€œWe just need to reconnect with the public community here in Bloomington. I know at IU we have to make it a fun event for people to come in, and we need to promote it as much as we can with public appearances.â€
Jas made it clear that no matter how much they did to get fans off the ice, game day will always be the most effective way to get a crowd.
â€œThe most important thing day-in and day-out is that we need to provide high quality hockey on the ice.â€
Through 10 games in the 2011 campaign, the team currently sits at .500 with a record of 5-5. This coming weekend they battle against Ohio University on Friday night (9:25) and Saturday afternoon (2:30) at the Frank Southern Ice Arena.