The University of Vermont has written a letter of inquiry to Hockey East, looking to gain membership into the conference for men’s and women’s hockey.
Vermont has been a member of the ECAC since upgrading the program to Division I almost 30 years ago.
No timeline or format for discussions has been announced.
Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna said the league would address the situation shortly, and eventually allow Vermont to make a formal presentation.
“Given the timing, there’s not much we can do but acknowledge receipt of the UVM letter, notify the athletic directors and then respond more completely after the holidays,” Bertagna said.
Meanwhile, the ECAC made a statement once the news was announced.
“Vermont has been a valued member of the ECAC and has contributed to the development of the history and tradition of the League,” said ECAC commissioner Phil Buttafuoco in the statement. “We respect Vermont’s decision to explore its options with respect to possible membership in Hockey East. We understand that every institution has the right and the duty to continually review its athletics programs and make decisions it deems in its best interests.
“As for the ECAC, we shall continue to thoroughly examine all facets of the league and be very proactive in evaluating the needs of the league. We shall consider all options available to us to ensure that any action taken is in the best interests of the member institutions.”
The ECAC was 17 teams until five schools broke away to form Hockey East in 1983-84. Since then, Army left the ECAC and was replaced by Union. The makeup of the ECAC has not changed since 1991.
Vermont made back-to-back NCAA appearances in 1996 and 1997, making the Frozen Four in 1996. A hazing scandal cut short the program’s 1999-2000 season, and it is still trying to fully recover. This year, the Catamounts are struggling so far under first-year head coach Kevin Sneddon with an 0-11-2 record.