Mark Johnson to Penn State?
The Wisconsin State Journal has an article that says Wisconsin has given Penn State permission to talk to Badger women's hockey coach Mark Johnson for their newly formed men's program.
According to the article, Johnson is aware of the itnerest but won't talk to anyone about the position until after the women's season is over.
Penn State announced in September that they were forming mens and womens D1 hockey programs to begin skating in the 2012-13 season. They are scheduled to join one of the east coast conferences, but their advent has also heightened talk about creating a Big Ten hockey conference. The minimum number for a hockey conference is six teams, and Penn State is the sixth Big Ten team to field a D1 hockey team. It's likely that the Big Ten Hockey Conference would start in the 2013-14 season.
Johnson, who has been at Wisconsin since 2002, has already won three national championships in women's hockey and looks to be the favorite for this year's crown with the No.1 ranked Badgers.
He also coached the US Women's National Team at the Olympics in 2010.
This would be a huge loss for Wisconsin. Johnson has built a powerhouse women's program in a short time. He clearly connects with the women and is nationally recognized. The program has reached unparalelled success under his direction.
He did spend time as a men's assitant at UW and interviewed for the men's job that eventually went to current coach Mike Eaves. Since then, he has not expressed any desire to return to the men's game.
A Madison native, Johnson has kept true to his Wisconsin roots.
From the WSJ article:
"The prevailing question about Johnson is whether he wants to pull up stakes and move his family from a comfortable existence his hometown. He's paid well — in excess of $150,000 annually — and has built the UW women's program into a national powerhouse. The father of five also has a daughter in high school and another in eighth grade."