Iowa State, which defeated Penn State for the ACHA collegiate club-level championship in March, has been stripped of its title by the organization’s sanctioning body for using an ineligible player.
Considered a strong candidate for an eventual upgrade to the NCAA Division I level, ISU received two years of probation, leaving its future cloudy. The 1999 title will be listed as “vacated.”
The player in question, Darcy Anderson, enrolled at Iowa State for the 1994-95 season, then took the next year off. During that season, he appeared in 10 games for the Saginaw Wheels of the professional Colonial League (now the United League) in 1995-96, then returned to ISU for the next three seasons. He scored 57 goals this past year. Anderson also played two games for Memphis of the Central League in 1997-98, and 14 games in a pro league in England.
Iowa State head coach Al Murdoch contended that Anderson actually dressed for only three games with Saginaw, and that in his time with the two pro teams he was paid little more than expenses. Murdoch also claims to have appealed the ACHA for, and gotten, approval of Anderson’s eligibility following his stint with Saginaw. The ACHA denies any such appeal ever took place.
Murdoch, a vice-president of the ACHA who recently had the championship trophy named after him, has been coaching at ISU for 29 years while amassing over 600 wins. A founder of the ACHA, he has been leading the charge for development of a new ice arena at ISU with the hopes of upgrading to NCAA Division I.
Despite assurances from ACHA president Josh Brandwene, the head coach at Delaware, that the appeals process has been exhausted, Murdoch indicated ISU may take the case to court.
The ACHA generally adheres to NCAA eligibility guidelines, but typically does not have resources to track every player. Under NCAA rules, one game of pro hockey is considered cause for ineligibility, though players are allowed to attend tryout camps.
Murdoch says he has had no indication from the ACHA hierarchy that his position as vice-president is in jeopardy.