Minnesota Wild Hockey Player Ryan Reaves talks with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman before a news conference to announce the formation of the Player Inclusion Coalition on Tuesday (June 27, 2023) in Nashville. The NHL and NHLPA are launching a new inclusion committee made up of current and former men's and women's players, with minority LGBTQ+ representation, aimed at diversifying hockey and making the sport more welcoming. (AP Photo: George Walker IV)

NASHVILLE — Tennessee State University announced Wednesday that it will become the first historically Black college and university to introduce ice hockey.

The program has been created in partnership with the National Hockey League, the National Hockey League Players’ Association and the Nashville Predators. The announcement was made hours before the start of the NHL draft, which is being held at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, the city where TSU is located.

Since 2017, the NHL and the players’ union have sponsored feasibility studies for U.S. colleges and universities interested in exploring the addition of Division I men’s and women’s programs. TSU and the NHL began their study in 2021. It is unclear whether the school will add men’s ice hockey, women’s ice hockey or both.

Tennessee State’s addition follows a trend of HBCUs adding sports outside their more traditional offerings of football, men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s track and field.

Earlier this year, The Associated Press contacted 46 Division I and D-II HBCUs and five conference offices about the trend. Twenty schools responded, saying they had added at least 42 NCAA championship or emerging sports since 2016, including at least 32 sports since 2020 alone.

In 2022-23, Fisk University became the first HBCU to offer women’s gymnastics. Morgan State will become the only HBCU offering Division I men’s wrestling this coming school year.