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Originally published Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 3:20 PM

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Once proud Bowling Green hockey program avoids chopping block, cuts will be made in all sports

Bowling Green's hockey program is safe for another season.

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio —

Bowling Green's hockey program is safe for another season.

The school's athletic director said Tuesday that no sports will be dropped next year, ending speculation this would be the last season for hockey at Bowling Green, which won an NCAA title 25 years ago.

Concern about the team's future had been growing in recent weeks after school leaders did not dispute rumors that the team would be eliminated.

The cancelation of renovations to the school's aging ice arena and a 12th consecutive losing season added to the speculation about the hockey program.

Former players and fans flooded the school to voice their opposition to getting rid of the team.

"We have heard the concerns raised by supporters of BGSU ice hockey and appreciate their passion for the program," said athletic director Greg Christopher.

The school still faces up to a $10 million budget deficit in the coming year, he said. Instead of dropping a sport, cuts will be made throughout the athletic department this year and more tough choices remain in the future, Christopher said.

Bowling Green said last month that budget woes were forcing it to delay plans to start this spring on a $4 million renovation of the ice arena. The building needs repairs to fix numerous leaks in its gutters and roof and upgrades of its lighting and the air system.

The arena opened nearly 42 years ago and also hosts high school and youth hockey tournaments and is where Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton, a Bowling Green native, learned how to skate.

Bowling Green plays in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association with teams that include Michigan, Ohio State and Miami of Ohio. It was once a power in college hockey and has produced several NHL stars including Rob Blake now with the San Jose Sharks.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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