Robert Morris’ hockey programs lack promise, but optimism remains for recovery
Logan Bittle wants more. He Needs Following.
The former hockey player and assistant coach of Robert Morris has $ 1.4 million in pledges aimed at restoring the Robert Morris men’s and women’s ice hockey teams in time for the 2022-23 season.
It remains only to collect – then to raise another $ 1.4 million.
âCurrently between us and the university we have about $ 1.4 million in pledges,â said Bittle, who helped set up the Pittsburgh College Hockey Foundation to raise money for post-removal recovery. programs in May. “The goal is to collect those pledges and (get) an additional $ 1.4 million in pledges for the following year (2023-24).”
Bittle said the foundation and the university have set a December deadline to raise cash from those initial pledges.
âWe’re very close to that at this point,â he said.
RMU officials did not return any messages seeking comment.
Their decision to cut hockey came amid a wave of universities dropping their athletic programs due to financial losses caused by coronaviruses.
RMU officials in May acknowledged the “negative impact” of Covid-19 on its finances, but said “(covid-19) was not the main factor influencing our decision.” Instead, the university cited the financial burden of scholarships, operating costs and upgrades to maintain the Island Sports Center, where the teams played, as the reasons.
âOnce you’ve cut a program, it’s very easy to just say it’s the final decision,â Bittle said. âBut (the university) came up with numbers that we needed to hit, and if we can hit them, I know the school wants hockey back because they realize how important it is.
There is a lot of work left outside of fundraising.
The school re-hired male coach Derek Schooley, but female coach Paul Colentino left to become vice president of hockey administration at Bishop Kearney Select, a private high school outside of Rochester, NY.
And there are only a handful of players left from both teams.
Getting RMU’s support in the form of well-heeled contacts was essential, Bittle said.
He thanked RMU athletic director Chris King, associate athletic director for development TJ Brown and several others for helping the foundation âget us in the room with the right peopleâ.
âWe are working with the school to try to have conversations with big donors and people who can help financially,â Bittle said.
Bittle said the goal was to keep the teams going for the first two years and then to allow “the sustainability of athletics at RMU to take over.”
âIt was a handful of alumni and community leaders who are supporters of RMU who worked really hard to get the initial promises we received,â Bittle said. âThe university wanted to join us in helping lift the rest. It has been a lot of work. It’s good to see how much people care about the programs.
Next fall is hockey’s first comeback, but Bittle doesn’t want to wait a year for the necessary funding.
âIf you know someone,â he said, âI would love to have them tomorrow.