Field hockey team finds league

NIU, five Big 10 squads

join to start conference

NIU is finally in a Big Ten conference—sort of.

The NIU field hockey team recently joined forces with five Big Ten schools to form the Midwest Collegiate Field Hockey Conference. The Huskies will compete in league play with Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern and Ohio State, beginning in the fall.

Plans to create the new conference began when Purdue dropped its field hockey program in 1988. That left the Big Ten with only five institutions that had a field hockey team, one less than the minimum required for Big Ten sponsorship of a championship sport.

The new conference should have no problem making a name for itself since several of the league’s teams already have risen to national prominence. Iowa advanced to last year’s NCAA championship final, where it lost to eventual champ Old Dominion. Meanwhile, Northwestern was ranked third in the nation at the end of the season before losing to Iowa in regional play.

NIU, which was independent, compiled a 15-3-1 record in 1988 and finished the regular season as the country’s 19th-ranked team.

The conference has opted for a double round-robin format in which each team will play the other five squads twice. The Huskies will play their conference opener against Ohio State Sept. 22 at Huskie Stadium.

Mary Masters, a Big Ten Conference administrator, will serve as the new league’s commissioner.