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ASU Hockey: Athletic Director Ray Anderson still hopes to see program at NCAA level

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It's been months since Ray Anderson last publicly addressed Arizona State's chances of jumping to the NCAA level, but his hopes have not slowed down.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Back in July, Arizona State Vice President of Athletics Ray Anderson told House of Sparky that he hopes to see men's hockey become an NCAA sport.

Friday night the Sun Devils opened the season with Anderson in attendance. He spoke to the team, and made clear that his desire has not slowed down.

"He told them he's trying very hard to elevate the program to what he calls varsity status," said team general manager Ken Lind, who was in the locker room when Anderson addressed the team. "He'll do the best he can to make sure that everything starts to match up, and at some point, if we keep performing and raise the appropriate amount of capital, this program could become a varsity sport."

Lind reiterated that Anderson was surprised that Arizona State did not have a lot of sports he expected it to have when he arrived, including men's hockey.

Sophomore defenseman Drew Newmeyer said he was happy to hear Anderson was interested in the hockey program.

"He said if it was up to him, it would happen, but there's a lot of other things that need to happen first," Newmeyer said. "I think we've all been hearing rumors from plenty of different places about it, but to hear it from him, the athletic director, really shows how realistic it could possibly be.

"When it comes from the athletic director's mouth, it's gotta be taken real seriously."

Ray Anderson did not immediately return a phone message left by House of Sparky, though the message was left at 5:55 p.m. on a Tuesday, presumably after Anderson had left the office.

But CronkiteSports.com caught up with Anderson Friday, and he told the site that he has not slowed down his efforts.

"We are trying to put together the support. We will certainly do the work we need to do with the NCAA," Anderson told the site. "It's aspirational but we have to make sure to go out and get the funding for it. We think we have some possibilities to take this to the next level."

Coach Greg Powers refused to address any of the rumors, and instead insisted the focus remain on the on-ice product.

"That's a really a question and a directive that Athletics would have to answer, not me," Powers said. "We're just focused on trying to win another ACHA national championship."

Anderson had mentioned back in July that seeing hockey at the highest college level was something he would like to see.

"I personally would love to see hockey as a varsity sport at Arizona State," Anderson told House of Sparky in July. "We have to make a commitment to figure that out."

He seemed hopeful at the possibility, but emphasized that money is a large obstacle. In the story from July, Powers estimated an endowment of $30-$40 million, with an annual operating budget of $750,000-$1 million.