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Tennessee State University announced Wednesday it would be the first Historically Black College or University (HBCU) to introduce a college hockey program.

TSU is holding a joint press conference with the Nashville Predators and the NHL ahead of the NHL Draft in which more specifics will be provided.

A pre-existing relationship between the Predators and TSU is what laid the foundation for the school partnering with the Preds, the NHL and College Hockey Inc. From there, TSU took part in a feasibility study that was administered by College Hockey Inc., an entity that works to grow the collegiate game.

College Hockey Inc., in conjunction with the NHL and the NHLPA, offers prospective schools a feasibility study to see if they are in a position to potentially add either a men’s or women’s program or in some cases, both.

The study concentrates on the financial impact of adding hockey. It examines if schools can account for adding scholarships internally, how much it would cost an athletics department to add a coaching staff and a support staff along with a conference assessment to determine if a team has realistic options to join a league.

The American Collegiate Hockey Association, which is the national organization for club hockey programs, has seen its former members transition to D-I. That was the case when Arizona State went from having a club team to eventually fielding a men’s program. ASU won two national club titles before it became a D-I program in 2015-16.

During the 2022-23 season, there were 62 active D-I men’s programs compared to the 37 D-I women’s programs. The highest level of women’s hockey is technically called the National Collegiate Division and it includes the 37 D-I teams plus five Division II programs.

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Tennessee State to be 1st HBCU with ice hockey program