College Hockey Roundup: Penn State’s New Threads, NBCSN Schedule, Culture at BU

It’s been a bit of a slow go at United States of Hockey the last few weeks, but it’s only going to get busier as the Junior and college hockey seasons quickly approach. With the NHL season assuredly delayed, USofH will remain a constant source for amateur hockey and U.S. national teams, so hopefully you come early and come often for what is sure to be an exciting hockey season, NHL or no NHL. There will be a few changes to keep an eye out for in the coming weeks, but for now, it’s business as usual.

There’s been a bit of college hockey news to catch up on over the last few weeks, so I figured it was time for another college hockey roundup. It’s been a mix of good, bad and indifferent, which is pretty typical coming into the season. So here’s a roundup of the bigger stories in college hockey of late.

Coming up after the jump, a look at Penn State’s first Division I uniforms, the 24-game NBC Sports Network TV schedule for college hockey and some thoughts on the aalleged culture of sexual entitlement at Boston University.

Penn State Unveils New Threads for First Division I Season

The entire Penn State community is looking for a fresh start in the wake of the Sandusky-Paterno scandal and subsequent NCAA punishment. While the “We Are Still Penn State” signs might make you (and me) a little squeamish, the hockey team should be and mostly has been isolated from an incident that occurred before it came to exist.

Perhaps the formulation of a new athletic tradition at a school shrouded in controversy is a good thing. The unveiling of the jerseys was a step towards making it a reality.

Courtesy: PSU Athletics

The kit is fairly simple, clean, maybe a little boring, but certainly a deviation from the norm. A lot of college jerseys like to spell out the name of the school, but Penn State went to its Nittany Lion primary logo which is probably an appropriate choice, if not surprising for PSU.

The helmet has the single blue stripe like the football helmets and the blue jerseys honor a now tossed-out football tradition of no names on the back. A lot of D1 teams at the big schools like to mimic the football looks, and branding junkies can appreciate that.

“As we designed the jerseys with Nike, we aimed to develop a classic, yet cutting-edge look that will provide optimal comfort and performance for our student-athletes,” said Guy Gadowsky in a statement about the jerseys.

Classic, sure. Cutting edge, I’m not really seeing it, but they are sharp. The one deviation from traditional hockey jerseys is the smaller numbering resting a little higher than normal on the shoulders, which is an interesting look. We’ll see how that shows up on the broadcast (As a part-time broadcaster, shoulder/sleeve numbers are crucial to identify unfamiliar players). PSU also went with the ties at the collar, which is supposed to denote “classic,” but I actually don’t care for them too much on these unis. I am always a fan of horizontal striping, though I’m not often in love with the single thick stripe. I still think it works with these jerseys. The socks continue the single solid stripe, as they should for symmetry.

Here’s an up-close look at the jerseys:

Via Penn State Athletics

I definitely prefer the blues to the whites and I think these are about as good as you could hope for in a first crack. Like I said, simple, clean, maybe a little boring. That’s kind of Penn State’s M.O., which works in a hockey jersey. After getting a closer look at the whole kit (gallery here), I think they’ll look pretty sharp in action.

NBC Sports Network Releases 24-Game College Hockey Slate

The NHL Lockout is not good for the game. Let’s get that straight. But what it does do is give other levels of hockey more opportunities for exposure, which is a slight benefit in the short term. College hockey is going to get some big benefits as a result, as NBC Sports Network, which started airing games last December will have a sizable offering of college hockey in 2012-13.

Starting with the Ice Breaker in mid-October, NBCSN will carry 24 total college hockey contests ending on March 23 with the Hockey East Tournament championship game. Here’s a look at the full schedule via Steve Lepore of SBNation:

Oct. 12 – Notre Dame vs. Maine, 7 p.m., followed by Army vs. Nebraska-Omaha
Oct. 13 – 
Tournament Championship, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 16 – Harvard vs. Cornell, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 30 – Boston College vs. Boston University, 7:30 p.m., Wisconsin vs. Denver, 10 p.m.
Dec. 1 – Boston University vs. Boston College, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 7 – Michigan State vs. Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 4 – Colorado College vs. Nebraska-Omaha, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 11 – Union vs. Princeton, 7:30 p.m., Nebraska-Omaha vs. Denver, 10 p.m.
Jan. 18 – Harvard vs. Yale, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 25 – Yale vs. Cornell, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 1 – Dartmouth vs. Union, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 8 – North Dakota vs. Nebraska-Omaha, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 15 – Boston University vs. Maine, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 22 – Yale vs. Quinnipiac, 7:30 p.m., North Dakota vs. Denver, 10 p.m.
Mar. 1 – Wisconsin vs. Nebraska-Omaha, 7:30 p.m.
Mar. 8 – Maine vs. New Hampshire, 7:30 p.m.

Hockey East Tournament
Mar. 15 – 
Quarterfinal, 7 p.m.
Mar. 22 – Semifinals, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Mar. 23 – Final, 7 p.m.

While it’s never a bad thing to have more college hockey on TV, this slate isn’t necessarily awe inspiring. There are plenty of compelling games to pick from, but a lot of these teams skating on NBC Sports network are teams in transition. This is going to be a very difficult NCAA season to predict, but I don’t know if NBCSN is getting a big bang for its buck with this schedule.

The BC-BU home and home should be good TV, I think Notre Dame could have an exciting hockey club in 2012-13, North Dakota should as well. I found it a little interesting that Nebraska-Omaha got the nod for up to six games on national television, especially considering the on North Dakota-UNO game is not the one they’re playing outdoors.

Really, I can’t complain. Between NBCSN, CBS Sports Network and the Fox College Sports packages carrying a wide variety of college hockey, this is a great year for the NCAA on TV. It helps recruiting, it helps drive fans and it helps fill a void that will be left by the NHL temporarily. More hockey on TV is good for us all.

Boston University’s Culture Problem

Last week, the task force commissioned by Boston University president Robert A. Brown to investigate the college hockey program at the school stemming from two players getting arrested on charges of sexual assault released its findings.

The task force said, “Our assessment has shown that a culture of sexual entitlement exists among some players on the men’s ice hockey team, stemming in part from their elevated social status on campus. This culture of sexual entitlement, as evidenced by frequent sexual encounters with women absent an emotional relationship or on-going commitment, can also involve unprotected sex. This culture is actively supported by a small subset of BU’s undergraduate population.”

The next day, the Boston Globe added more fuel to the fire when it reported some of the findings of the task force not made available to the public. The report included details of an alcohol-fueled party held at Agganis Arena after BU’s 2009 national title win, which apparently included couples engaging in sex in the penalty box.

This led to calls for Jack Parker’s job as head coach, one he’s held for more than 40 years.

There was also an outcry that this issue is not solely a problem at BU and it was unfair to single out the Terrier hockey team.

Both of those differing views are wrong.

Parker certainly needed to provide more oversight, but I do not feel that he can be held responsible for the alleged culture of sexual entitlement. He also can’t be expected to be a babysitter. At some point, coaches have to let their players out into the world and hope they apply good decision making and act as adults. As we all know too well, that doesn’t always happen.

The players arrested had differing outcomes, with Max Nicastro having the charges against him dropped and Corey Trivino pleading to lesser charges. Regardless, they clearly put themselves in a bad spot and likely made disastrous decisions.

A head coach should take an active role in his players’ personal lives, but there comes a point where the coach has to stay back and let players live. Some stunning mistakes were made by some individuals, but it is difficult to pass blame to anyone but the individuals. It is unfortunate that some of the players have put their coach in a bad spot with their own decisions they’ve made. Parker is not above scrutiny, and has taken his lumps as a result of this scandal, but I think he deserves a chance to make it right.

Now for the crowd saying because this is an issue everywhere it is unfair to pass judgment on BU, I think that’s a wrong course of action.

Despite the fact that one shouldn’t paint the program with a broad brush, there is reason to believe change is necessary, based on the findings of the report.

A culture of sexual entitlement exists far beyond the doors of Agganis Arena, and might exist in locker rooms in every sport at a variety of schools and other organizations.

The Soo Greyhounds of the OHL are going through a similar situation with three players charged with sexual assault. That is currently being dealt with by the proper authorities and the Greyhounds have taken measures to give their players the benefit of the doubt (innocent until proven guilty), while also ensuring the players are educated on the consequences of their alleged actions and how to handle the coming scrutiny.

An organization called the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes cited a three-year study that claims 19 percent of sexual crimes committed on college campuses are perpetrated by male student-athletes.

So yes, this happens elsewhere, but it makes it no less alarming and no less important to examine carefully. There needs to be a more active quest for widespread education among male athletes. That only goes so far, but is a start.

A culture of sexual entitlement sounds almost like the players don’t know any better. Based on some of the comments from a few of the players to the task force, it sounds like some of them had trouble understanding what consent meant and why it was necessary. That’s scary.

Education on appropriate conduct and the consequences should the players step out of bounds is one way to hopefully create deeper thought as players are about to make certain decisions. It might be asking a lot, but it has to be asked.

A culture of sexual entitlement anywhere is unacceptable. It is that type of culture that leads to frightening decisions and worse consequences for potential victims.

BU should not be the only one taking blame, but because of this detailed investigation, they have become a bit of a poster child at the present. It’s not fair to the players that do play by the rules and are immune to such a culture, but it is important to bring the scrutiny and scorn to an issue that might be more widespread in sports than any of us believe. If changes don’t come, and soon, we may see BU being made an example of.

When the word “culture” is used, it sounds like it’s something that will be difficult to change and that is certainly true, but it has to change.

Parker and his staff “endorsed” the task force’s findings. That’s step one. Now it’s putting everything into action to make a change. The public will be watching and one more slip up could mean sweeping changes for one of the proudest programs in college hockey.

That’s it for this edition of the College Hockey Roundup. Expect both NTDP U18 and U17 team previews, an in-depth look at USHL prospects coming into 2012-13 season and more in the coming weeks.

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About Chris Peters

Editor of The United States of Hockey. Contributor to CBSSports.com, USA Hockey Magazine and more. Former USA Hockey PR guy. Current Iowan.
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3 Responses to College Hockey Roundup: Penn State’s New Threads, NBCSN Schedule, Culture at BU

  1. Chris says:

    Love your website, keep up the great work. I think your reporting on the “culture” at BU is a little strong. Is it a surprise that hockey players get treated like gods and get laid all the time? Isn’t that the dream of every guy? Of course, if there is rape, sexual assault, etc…that is inexcuseable. But if we’re just talking about people hooking up, big deal. This has been going on since, oh…recorded human history. Young people will have sex, lots of it! That’s a part of life. The fact that hockey players who are campus celebrities are offered it more than average is, again, completely normal. Aside from the incidences of actual sexual assault, there is no story there. It just seems to be kind of pc to be scolding them for doing what comes naturally. Next thing you can do an expose on the fact that college hockey players drink beer don’t always attend church on Sundays. Lighten up bro.

    • Chris Peters says:

      From the Globe: The subcommittee documents make clear that at least some BU hockey players, surrounded by adoring fans, had “the perception that they need not seek consent for sexual contact.”

      One player came close to admitting that. “You don’t ask [permission for sex] when you are drunk,” he told the task force. // These comments came from a player that was not among those accused of sexual assault.
      —–
      Casual sex is one thing. Non-consensual sex is another. Smarten up, bro.

  2. Sherrie says:

    Nice report, Chris. I like the look of the PSU jerseys.As to the BU situation, I’m in agreement that a coach cannot police his (alleged) student-athletes 24/7, and I’m sure some of the behavior reported is simply part of college culture. But the two examples cited in the report illustrate a somewhat shocking attitude–wouldn’t you think these guys would have known the right thing to say to an investigative committee, even if they didn’t mean what they were saying? There’s clearly some education that needs to take place, definitely at BU and most probably at other schools too. As for Coach Parker–if he isn’t Jack Parker, he’s gone. The only reason he’s keeping his job is because he wins. I will be watching with interest to see if an unexpected retirement takes place in the next couple of years.
    One other thing–I have to assume that sex in the press box is not available to non-athletes, so does that make it an NCAA violation? 🙂

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