Penn State University is adding men’s and women’s ice hockey as varsity sports with an $88 million gift from alumnus Terry Pegula, who just sold his natural-gas firm to Royal Dutch Shell PLC for $4.9 billion.
The school, based in University Park, Pennsylvania, said in a news release today that the grant from Pegula and his wife, Kim, will fund a new multipurpose arena and help start Division I ice hockey programs.
Terry Pegula, a 1973 Penn State graduate, is the founder and former president of East Resources Inc., which was sold to Royal Dutch Shell in May.
Both Nittany Lion hockey teams will debut as independents for the 2012-13 season, United States College Hockey online reports.
Penn State, which had a men’s program from 1939 through 1946, will become the sixth Big Ten conference school to offer varsity hockey. The other five -- University of Michigan, Michigan State, University of Wisconsin, University of Minnesota and Ohio State -- have combined for 23 men’s national championships and five women’s titles.
Penn State’s club team, the Icers, has won seven American Collegiate Hockey Association national titles since its formation in 1971, ESPN reports. The school has had a women’s club team, the Lady Icers, since 1996.
Penn State has a total enrollment of 94,000 students. It is the biggest university in Pennsylvania, home state of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009 and the Flyers lost in the finals in June. The state is scheduled to host the National Collegiate Athletic Association Frozen Four in 2013 (Pittsburgh) and 2014 (Philadelphia).