Sources within Atlantic Hockey have confirmed to USCHO.com that Niagara and Robert Morris will join the league as full members beginning with the 2010-2011 season. The schools will be affiliate members of Atlantic Hockey next season, using league officiating crews.
An official announcement from the league detailing the decision will be released within the next few days.
This development will mean the dissolution of College Hockey America, which had been reduced to four teams — Alabama-Huntsville, Bemidji State, Niagara and Robert Morris — after Wayne State dropped hockey last season. The WCHA last week lifted its moratorium on expansion, paving the way for Bemidji State to apply for membership.
Atlantic Hockey had previously voted to increase its scholarship limit from 11 to 12 starting next season. Robert Morris is below that limit, but Niagara has 18 scholarships, the maximum allowed by the NCAA. Niagara will have to eliminate six scholarships by the 2010-2011 season to comply.
AHA coaches, speaking off the record until the announcement is made official, were generally positive about the development, although there is a concern about what has traditionally been a “one bid” league expanding further.
The addition of Niagara and Robert Morris increases the number of schools in Atlantic Hockey to 12. The conference added Air Force and RIT in 2006. Founding AHA member Quinnipiac departed the league in 2005.