Men’s Hockey Club overcomes final obstacles to return from suspension


Daniel Jacobi II

Danick Rodrigue prepares himself in the tunnel before taking the ice ahead of the game against Roosevelt University in the Ames/ISU Ice Arena on December 4th, 2021.

Nearly one year ago, the Men’s Hockey Club at Iowa State University received news that surprised many of its members: the team was suspended from all competitions in the 2022-2023 academic year.

The Men’s Hockey Club was suspended in June 2022 after the Office of Student Conduct administered an investigation into hazing allegations against members of the team. The investigation found that the team organized activities involving underage drinking, alcohol abuse, personal humiliation and financial penalties that were linked to admission, continued membership or elevated status within the team, according to a press release by the university.

The Men’s Hockey Club is in the process of fulfilling the requirements that will allow them to resume their activities. They have completed some of these tasks but still have additional steps before they can compete again.

“In addition to the suspension, the men’s team was required to develop a comprehensive review and plan outlining new and continuing team education, complete anti-hazing and alcohol and drug abuse training and restructure as a traditional, student-led sports club,” Angie Hunt, communications specialist at Iowa State, stated in an email on behalf of the university.

The Men’s Hockey Club has successfully elected club officers and formulated a club constitution and operations manual, so the group is now recognized by the university as a student organization. As a student-run organization, they will no longer be overseen by Iowa State employees as they have in the past.

Some individuals, including Jacob Schuldt, the club’s vice president and a junior studying construction engineering, believe this restructuring could have occurred without the team’s suspension.

“We feel the administration wanted to remove risk that they held having coaching staff be employees of the school,” Schuldt said. “We were disappointed in [the suspension] because we felt that they could have come to us to restructure the team into a student-run organization without the need to go through this suspension.”

The group now awaits affiliation with Iowa State’s Recreation Services. Additionally, the team requires a letter from the university that will allow them to rejoin the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA).

“What we really need from the school is a letter saying that we’re allowed to participate in the ACHA,” Schuldt said. “We have been told that that’s coming; that’s kind of taking longer than expected, and we’re doing as much as we can to fulfill the original stipulations the school put on our suspension.”

The Men’s Hockey Club hopes to return to competition during the fall 2023 semester. However, many teams in the ACHA set their schedules over a year in advance, which could make it difficult for the team to reach this goal.

“The deadline for having all this stuff done would have been, like, months ago,” said Stuart Pearson, the club’s president and a graduate student studying electrical and computer engineering. “We’ll be in a tough position where if we would like to schedule games next year and join a conference and stuff, most teams will already be booked…that will probably be a struggle for us going forward.”

In addition to facing logistical challenges with reinstating the Men’s Hockey Club, team members have also had to adapt to life without the outlet of practicing and competing.

“You have a group of guys that you hang out with pretty much every day, and then the next year, you don’t have that anymore,” Schuldt said. “I’ve been skating since I was 2 years old, so this has been a way of life for me for a long time, and to have a year where it’s not something you get to look forward to every day, it kind of gets tough.”

Staying connected socially has been helpful for the club during their suspension and rebuilding.

“The relationships between guys are all still there,” Pearson said. “We still all lean on each other for certain things, but I’ve definitely observed, for a ton of people, it has made life more difficult.”

Following the club’s suspension, several members transferred universities to seek opportunities to play hockey elsewhere. Despite being a freshman last year, Bryan Kurpiewski, the club’s marketing chair and now a sophomore studying finance, made the decision to remain at Iowa State.

“I couldn’t ask for a better season for a college experience,” Kurpiewski said. “There were three teams, but it was one family.”

As highlighted by Kurpiewski, three separate teams formerly comprised the Men’s Hockey Club. These groups practiced together but competed within different divisions of the ACHA.

Moving forward, the club will maintain union with the university to ensure they meet all expectations of a student organization.

“Rec Services and Student Engagement staff have and continue to work closely with club members to answer questions and ensure they have the support they need to complete the required restructuring,” Hunt stated.

Upon returning to competition, the Men’s Hockey Club hopes to provide opportunities for individuals to engage in the sport while also achieving a high level of success.

“As quickly as possible, we want to…continue with our national and international success that Cyclone hockey has enjoyed for the last, like, 50 years, and do good for the legacy of everyone else that’s come before,” Pearson said.