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College women’s hockey: WCHA turns to crowdfunding to help offset league expenses

Minnesota Duluth's showdown with Wisconsin in the 2017 WCHA Final Face-Off championship on March 6 in Minneapolis was one of eight women's WCHA games televised by Fox Sports North last season. The league is hoping to raise $20,000 toward the broadcast of the 2018 championship on FSN and to help offset school-incurred costs for regular season broadcasts. The league set up a crowdfunding campaign at wcha.rallyme.com. File photo by Brett Groehler/UMD

In the wake of North Dakota cutting its women’s hockey program, WCHA women’s commissioner Katie Million told the News Tribune she and the league needed to start thinking outside the box to generate revenue.

That mindset led the WCHA to announce a crowdfunding campaign Thursday to help fund the league’s expenses and lessen the financial burden of the seven remaining schools, which includes Minnesota Duluth.

More: North Dakota's elimination of women's hockey could cost UMD and other WCHA schools in the long run

The WCHA is partnering with RallyMe.com, which specializes in online athletic fundraising. The site works with a number of national governing bodies, including USA Hockey.

“The WCHA women’s league has long stood as the nation’s premier conference, and now we want to do more for our amazing student-athletes and programs, but need some help to do it,” Million said in a release.

The league is allowing donors to direct funds to specific expenditures at http://wcha.rallyme.com. The WCHA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, meaning all donations are tax deductible.

The league is hoping to raise $50,000 toward its operations fund; $25,000 to help with costs for the Final Face-Off tournament; $25,000 to hold an awards banquet; $7,500 to reinstate its postgraduate scholarship; and $6,000 to fund the weekly and monthly awards. The league is also hoping to purchase new regular season and postseason championship trophies, with a goal of $5,000 for each.

“In this era of being bold for change, we are asking for financial help to make the best league in women’s college hockey even better,” Million said.

The women’s WCHA operates on an annual budget of approximately $700,000 per year with anywhere from 80-85 percent of the budget being the responsibility of the member schools, according to Million.

WCHA looks to expand TV coverage

Another area the WCHA is taking donations is for television production. The league is seeking $20,000 to broadcast the 2018 Final Faceoff championship game and help offset school-incurred costs for regular season broadcasts.

One of the league’s biggest partners right now is Fox Sports North, according to Million. FSN broadcast eight WCHA women’s games in 2016-17 including the league’s postseason championship between the Bulldogs and Wisconsin. Million said she plans to sit down with the league during the later half of the summer in hopes of expanding FSN’s coverage of the league.

While the league doesn’t make money off the broadcasts, Million said the exposure for the sport is priceless.

“We can’t even put a price tag on the value of it. That exposure for women’s hockey, for our WCHA schools was invaluable,” Million told the News Tribune back in May. “For the little girls to see that on TV and have a dream of doing that someday is huge.”

Currently the Bulldogs and St. Cloud State are the only two schools capable of broadcasting regular season games for FSN, which takes feeds from Amsoil Arena and SCSU’s Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. Million said the league is hoping to expand those capabilities to other WCHA women’s rinks in the future.

Donate: wcha.rallyme.com

Matt Wellens

College hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune covering the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's and women's teams, as well as the NCAA Division III programs at St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior.

(218) 723-5317
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