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College Hockey:
Five schools set to leave WCHA for new league in 2013

A new Division I men’s conference is inching closer to reality, and the WCHA stands to lose the most teams.

Colorado College, Denver, Miami, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota will form a conference starting with the 2013-14 season, the Grand Forks Herald reported and USCHO has confirmed, both through sources.

An official announcement is expected Wednesday.

Notre Dame is hoping to make a decision on its future conference affiliation sometime this summer, school associate athletic director Tom Nevala told USCHO earlier this week. It could join the new league, Hockey East or the WCHA, or remain in the CCHA.

Western Michigan, which sources earlier indicated was part of the talks to form the league, is not in the confirmed group of teams as of yet.

Five of the six teams in the new league come from the WCHA, which is already losing two schools to the Big Ten when it forms in the 2013-14 season.

Sources indicated that the remaining members of the WCHA — Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State and St. Cloud State — were meeting via teleconference Thursday to discuss matters.

Miami will leave the CCHA, which is losing Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State to the Big Ten. It stands to include Alaska, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan, with the affiliations of Notre Dame and Western Michigan undecided.


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  • Guest

    I believe Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, Mankato and St. Cloud held their teleconference to discuss their collective familiarity with Schit Creek.

    • Nhlfreak2003

      i think the remaining teams in CCHA and WCHA should form one conference with eachother

      • RamboWildcat

        That’s the answer, period.  Merge or die.  Time for those schools to step up and make their own power play.  Otherwise, they may as well consider dropping down to D-3. 

        • Thomas Lucic

          Might as well throw in Alabama Huntsville while you’re at it.

      • SiouxPhan

        ICHL – Insignificant College Hockey League!!  :  )

    • Anonymous

      Or there just might be a telephone down in Huntsville Alabama ringing ’bout now

    • interleukins

      This is the greatest thing I have ever read.

      • Suture

        Well, McCloud may want these teams to stay in the WCHA….but it is going to take more than Interleukins and Cytokines to keep these teams in place.  I mean, there is not much the WCHA can really do….they simply cannot
        interfer-on with any team if they decide to leave….lol….:)

        • Y_roc2285

          Wow, I thought you were stretching a bit to include the the Cytokines but you totally brought it back together with the interfer-on! Kudos

    • ftb712

      If I am the CCHA I would go out and recruit Niagara and RIT from Atlantic hockey and  the WCHA should go after Air Force.

  • Guest

    I’m curious as to how they selected these teams to participate.  Looks like they attempted to get the best from the WCHA and CCHA but did they?  If you use the last ten seasons as a benchmark, UMD is 13 games above .500 whereas SCSU is 40 games above .500 playing similar competition, so that’s not it.  That’s not to take anything away from UMD’s championship, but there’s something to be said for consistency.  Perhaps it’s attendance.  SCSU has always drawn more fans.  UMD opened a new arena in December while spending much of the year ranked #1, SCSU still beat them in per game attendance while phoning in a disappointing year.  That can’t be it.  Regardless of any of that, I don’t see this as being good for college hockey in general.  Tough to expand a sport when you have such conference disparity.  I thought the Big Ten was a potential good thing, but not this.
    ~UMD grad

    • guest

      Not sure where you got your facts but st cloud did not have higher attendance than umd. UMD has more tradition than the rest of the WCHA. And they have that oh-so-important NCAA title. Pick on UNO before UMD- a REAL UMD grad

      • Anonymous

        I’ll agree and say that the attendance claim sounds a little iffy, but I don’t know where you got the idea that “UMD has more tradition than the rest of the WCHA.” Current WCHA? the U has more tradition. Denver probably has more tradition. UND has more tradition. Heck, if you want to get serious, Tech has more tradition than UMD. UMD was an afterthought until the 80′s and has had major sucess sparingly outside of that string in the 80′s and this past year.

        • minneh

          your nuts…….how many NHL’ers has SCSU produced, O.K. now tell me how many UMD had produced, good now zip it.

          • Anonymous

            I actually have no idea where you’re going with that. it’s roughly 21 from SCSU and 45 from UMD if you’re wondering. I never once mentioned St. Cloud. even if I did, I’m talking about COLLEGE hockey tradition. that doesn’t always include producing NHL players. look at how many players on the current Gophers rosted has been drafted. almost every single player. has that worked out for us the past few years? nope. I just said the claim that UMD has more tradition than the rest of the WCHA is a false statement, no way around it, if you’re talking about the current WCHA.

      • Erdmann Ryan

        Actually the attendance figures on this very site shoe that SCSU averaged more than UMD, by 125 fans per game. Not a meaningful difference at all, but he’s right about higher attendance for a crappy SCSU team.

    • Suture

      Guest…and a few others, there was much more than attendance or history of wins or even “history in the league” that went into the decision by these WCHA teams to look for change, i.e., a new conference.  I firmly believe several of the schools looked at the CURRENT atmosphere at each school and wanted to know who was going to put emphasis on their hockey programs.  I think North Dakota was the major force behind starting the new conference and it was based on finances (I’m NOT blaming North Dakota by the way).  If you look at the teams in this conference virtually all of them place hockey as their most emphasized sport at their respective universities (except ND if the Irish join).  I look at a school like UNO and see nothing but another North Dakota in the making. Large arena, arguably the best college hockey coach in the country and the decision by the school to drop their football program (which was surprising) all point to the seriousness UNO has in developing their hockey program. UMD is a great school with great teams in multiple sports……but hockey is the most appreciated and emphasized.  
       
      So, I think there are multiple reasons why each school was selected/asked to join this new league. Is this the right thing to do?  I have no idea. Without Notre Dame the league will be OK. With ND you have to think it will be one of, if not thee, best conferences in the country. I have been a WCHA fan my whole life and I am quite upset by both the formation of the BTHC and now this move. Someone mentioned that this is all that is wrong with college sports and I tend to agree.  I think it is shortsighted to blame any one school for these changes. As in life, everybody looks out for their own…right?  Nonetheless, I think this is a sad day for all of college hockey.

      • Fan 30

        I would have to agree….  Sad but true

    • Guest

      I don’t know how three weeks being ranked #1 equals much of the year.

  • Anonymous

    The remaining WCHA and CCHA schools I predict will merge to form the new “Great Lakes Conference”  (I suppose UAA and UA would take issue with that name, but…..).   They would form an East and West Division to help travel costs and split UAA and UA between East and West for the same reason. 

    It would be a pretty decent conference I think.  The schools are all similar academically and to an extent similar sized.

    If the remaining WHCA/CCHA programs can hook up I don’t see it as a bad thing.  The conference would still get its autobid and there is enough quality teams for at least an at-large bid or two depending on the year. 

  • guest7877

    Bruce McLeod sucks at his job! 

    • Guest99999

      Right. Most succesful league in the nation, the best playoff tournament, and the most teams in the dance of any conference every year. What should he have done differently? If teams want to leave and are greedy for money, which I don’t blame them, then they are going to leave. Who would you propose should have been in there to prevent the teams from leaving, and what should that person have done?

      • Guest

        I hate to see this happen but it could even help the likes of SCSU, BSU, MSUM, and UAA in terms of NCAA tourney bids. The WCHA was truly the top league in college hockey this year, at one point in time every team except Tech was in the top 23 of the Pairwise. That’s unheard of. Week in and week out these teams were just beating up on each other. As long as in these next couple years these teams keep knocking off the “big dogs” like Duluth, UNO, DU, & CC (I’d say UND but lets be honest no one really beat them this year) they’ll still get the recruits they need to make a successful transition.

  • Tdb32_00

    If you really look at it besides UND, DU and 2 national championships be CC in the 1950′s and this years UMD team what exactly does UNO, WMU, Notre Dame and Miami have for tradition!!!!!  You take out UND and DU and you have a conference that has 3 NC’s in 60 years, what a joke!! I grew up in colorado as DU and CC fan and this makes me sick! Living in Minnesota now for the last five years i have become a huge BSU fan along with SCSU and now they are getting screwed!!! Hopefully the remaing teams from each conference combine and should make a damn fine league!!

    • JAW

      I haven’t done the math, but what would the BTHC have for national titles minus Michigan and Minnesota.  I didn;t like the formation of the BTHC, but this move was only logically going to happen.  Sucks as I feel college hocky is steep with tradition, especially in the WCHA.  Hopefull the CCHA n WCHA remnants can make a new conference.  Agree withmany of the posts overall….

      • Geno

        michigan – 9 titles
        wisconsin – 6 titles
        minnesota – 5 titles
        mich state – 3 titles
        ohio state – 0 titles
        penn state – 0 titles

        i thought the big ten included illinois, iowa, purdue, northwestern, indiana, and now nebraska?  the big ten hockey conference is the dumbest thing i’ve heard in a long time.

        • bigten=joke

           Absolutely the most ridiculous thing that could happen. the big ten is basically saying screw all the rivalries we have had in hockey for 50 some years. UND playing Minn and Wis, Duluth and Minn, and im sure there are a bunch more. Now they just want to line their pockets and not give a damn about anything else. worse decision these idiots could have made

  • #1 Ranked Sioux

    If Notre Dame decides to join the other CCHA/WCHA upper-level teams, that new league would be quite the thing!  Forget the hype of the Big-10, this new league REALLY places them on the map.  Oii!    I can’t imagine Notre Dame being stupid enough to switch over to Hockey East.  They’d have nothing in common with those east coast elitists…

    Which leagues would then get the auto-bids?  there’d have to be some new rules made to accommodate these changes in landscape, don’t ya think?

    • A College Hockey Fan

      Nothing in common? That’s a specious statement!

      HockeyEast make a lot more sense for Notre Dame from an institutional perspective than the proposed new league.  Perhaps you are not aware that they are members of the Big East in most other sports?

      And they have institutional similarities with more HockeyEast members that the WCHA/CCHA defectors, of which religious affiliation being only one.   

      Wherever ND ends up, they will be the ones to decide their destination.  As a heavyweight university they carry a lot of weight and influence.  The league that lands ND will really score a big time win for their conference. 

      • Suture

        I agree with some of your comments regarding ND and HE.  I think the big question in all of this is what criteria do you use to determine which school has commonality with various other schools and potential conferences?  From an “institutional” standpoint I agree with your analysis. However, is ND looking to join HE (or any other conference) strictly by this criteria?  I don’t know, I’m sure this will be discussed…..as will other factors.  I am sure ND wants to be in the “best” conference for all their athletic teams (at least what they see as being the best).  Needless to say, their football program is a different animal.  I know ND was very excited to play North Dakota in Grand Forks this year (the 2nd time they played last year) and it turned out to be two great hockey games.  There was talk at that time, ironically, that a UND/UND annual series (as in past years when ND was part of the WCHA) would be great for both schools.  My money is on the new “super league” getting ND…..there are enough Catholics in MN, N. Dak, CO and NE to satisfy the parochial base at N. Dame…..:)

  • Mike Chester

    Boo UMD! You should be counting your blessings. Not doing to SCSU,  BSU, and MSU what you are doing if true. You could have held the WCHA together by remaining. Instead you are truely part of the UofM. My wife is a grad and I enjoyed your championship. Mcloed is a joke from day one, Where are your real interests. Can you look in the mirror?? Waiting inthe wings I say for self interess all along. Your a joke to college hockey!!

    • guest

      Are you kidding me Mike, although a good and growing program, UMD does not have the power to hold the WCHA together. They need to follow UND and Denver to ensure their survival!  If this does indeed happen, the remaining CCHA and WCHA schools could be in big trouble, why would UMD want to be left in that group?

      • Suture

        Totally agree.  You have to keep in mind that some of the WCHA schools who agreed to leave may not have really wanted to leave.  UMD could be just such a school.  They saw the writing on the wall and if UMD wanted to stay significant they really had no choice but to make the switch.  As I said before, I am quite certain North Dakota is the main force behind this move.  DU and CC were probably fine with a new conference.  But, I have a feeling UMD was stuck and really had no choice…..IMHO.

        I understand how every school has to take care of themselves, you cannot blame anyone for these upcoming changes.  But, as a college hockey fan I think we will see in the near future these new conferences are not going to be as wonderful as many think.  Yes, UND can still play MN, but it won’t be the same.  Denver and UW will not be the same.  This is why I think, on the whole, these new conferences will create more harm for college hockey than most people see today.  And, if you are an eastern hockey fan don’t think you will not be affected by these changes.  In some shape or form you will be.  The more I think about this the more upsetting this all seems to be.

    • minneh

      really??? UMD like it or not is STILL one of the big boys in college hockey, they HAD to do this in order to survive financially, siding with UND was a wise move both from a hockey sense and a fiscal sense…….

  • Taylor Birkelo

    This is one of the worst ideas i have ever heard in my life! The Big Ten should leave hockey alone and keep the WCHA alive. This new conference just makes it even worse and will ruin should a powerful conference!

  • Taco99

    Best decision UMD could have made. AD Nielson should be applauded for being progressive and preventing UMD hockey from second-class citizen status. I like the idea of smaller conferences. More non-conference games will produce more games with conference power and pride on the line. 12 teams gets to be to much, with few non-conference games scheduled that mean very little. UMD is still going to schedule St.Cloud, MSU, Bemidji, Michigan Tech, Wisconsin, and Minnesota…. so what’s the problem.

    New WCHA:
    St. Cloud
    Bemidji
    Minnesota State-Mankato
    Alaska-Ancourage
    Alaska-Fairbanks
    Alabama-Huntsville

    New CCHA:
    Michigan Tech
    Northern Michigan
    Lake Superior St.
    Bowling Green
    Ferris State
    Western Michigan

    • Bruce

      Currently, each CCHA and WCHA team plays 28 league games in a season.  The non-Alaska teams fly to Alaska once every other year.  In a 6 team league, for each team to play 20 league games a year, 8 less than they play now, they would need to play each of the other 5 teams four times a year, a home weekend and an away weekend. That would mean every season the three Minnesota schools in the proposed “New WCHA” would fly to Alaska two different weekends and to Alabama one weekend to play conference games.  I can’t see that being a solution for them.

      In this every school for themself atmosphere, one possible scenario would be for the three remaining Minnesota schools and the three U.P. schools to form a 6 team conference.  That would make geographic sense for them and create natural rivalries and low travel costs.  It would leave the two Alaska schools and BGSU, FSU, and WMU out in the cold, but that’s the same thing the Big 10 conference and the new “super conference” have already done.  I can’t see any likely scenario where BGSU, FSU, and WMU are not faced with significantly higher travel costs and the need to increase their hockey budget if they want to continue Division I hockey.  Unfortunately, the days of an 11 team CCHA where a team can bus to every other team except Alaska will soon be gone. 

    • Guest

      Priceless.  This is a back to the future moment.  ”New WCHA” above looks like late 1980′s “D2 Independent”.  Check Alabama-Huntsville schedule from 1986-1988 timeframe and those schools were regularly on each others schedule.

      If 2 schools go under, NCAA has to consider dropping tournament from 16 teams back to 12 or even 8 teams.

    • Geno

      trade huntsville to AHA for air force in the “new” wcha and those conferences would be adequate enough i guess.  either way the new college hockey landscape sucks….

      i say get rid of ALL conferences and have 58 independent schools (for hockey).

  • Captain Capitalism

    A lot of butthurt whining going on. I don’t see what’s so wrong with these schools looking out for their best interests. That’s America. That’s capitalism. If the smaller programs can’t survive on their own merit, then they don’t deserve to survive at all. Good riddance. The days of college hockey being a niche sport are winding down. Again, good riddance. College hockey might start to become more relevant now that the major players are starting to consolidate their power. This is only a natural progression that should have happened years ago. Thank you, Penn State and the Big Ten, for getting the ball rolling.

    • Guest22

      Good grief.  You’re going to vote for Sarah Palin aren’t you?

  • Bruce

    12 solid college hockey programs have apparently made the decision to discontinue their every-other-season weekend trip to Alaska to play 2 league games against an Alaska school.  That is 6 weekend trips to Alaska each season, a combined total of 12 home games each season for the two Alaska schools.  One major question is whether other schools are willing to fill in those gaps.

  • BeaverHockey

    The Big Ten Conference had it’s stupid rule about if any 6 teams are in a sport, they must form a conference.  We could just get rid of all of this riff raff, if the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) would just get together and say that if any 4 of their schools are playing a sport, they must stay in a conference together.  This would stop UMD from jumping ship and staying with SCSU, BSU, and Mankato no matter what.

    • Bulldog Fan In Circle Pines

      You need 6 teams to get an auto bid for the NCAA tourney.  So that league would be a terrible idea. And trust me UMD would leave the NSIC if your idea came about.  UMD understand that hockey is what drives the athletic department.  It wouldn’t shock me if UMD went D1 across the board in the next 10 years.  

      • Wnhoufg

        Dumbest thing I EVER heard.  Yeah UMD a D 1 football powerhouse  hahahahahahahahaha  Fool

        • guest

          They could play 1 AA in football! May not be a powerhouse but they could pull it off. They just won 2 national championships! FOOL. They are far less likely to be able to do it in Mens and Womens basketball, baseball, etc.

      • Guest9999999

        Hahahaha D1 across the board? Yeah, they win in football, but no one goes to the games. You need fans to support programs. The women’s team wins, but how much money do you think they have generated? I mean lost? I’m surprised the baseball team isn’t folded already. There was talk of that. They have one set of bleachers. The high school teams get more of a crowd. And the same can be said about the basketball programs. No fans. You really think the aging population of Duluth can sustain a move to D1 school wide. Come on man. It takes more than 1 national championship in hockey and couple D2 football titles to do that. Not a chance! Trust me!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IBX3ZLT5XKNZDOL2YZHPVX27VI STEVEN P

    Ten years from now,most young talent will be going into junior hockey,and D1 college hockey will no longer be relevant. Thank you,BTCH. It was a nice run,but it’s over. Greed wins again,even though it’s just succeeded in killing itself.

    • Suture

      This is EXACTLY what my concern is as well.  Now that somebody else said this I am worried all the more. Man, this really sucks!

      • BD

        Suture, totally disagree. 

        I think the new western super conference essentially forms a “Incubator” for the NHL.  One stop shopping for kids seeking to join the pros, much more so than the juniors.  THe most challenging games each weekend with the largest crowds and most pressure for a scout to observe his prospect in the most stressful of conditions.

        The big ten conference will NOT have this effect.

  • The oil drum

    I believe st cloud outdrew umd but umd also spend half the season in the old Decc which is much smaller. They virtually sold out every game. I would like to See st cloud in the new conference but I can see why they chose umd first. Longer hockey tradition, new completed arena, and the new nation championship. St cloud is right there so they should get selected for the conference as well

  • Gfesch

    If you are looking for reason for all of this, it is money.

  • MSU Grad 97

    New WCHA conference – no UND, Wis, U of M telling members, NCAA, and refs what to do!

    West:
    1. MSU
    2. SCSU
    3. BSU
    4. UAA
    5. MTU
    6. MSU-Moorhead (as previously discussed when BSU needed a WCHA partner, they could be ready in a few years, and people in Fargo would not have to cheer for the Flickertails)

    East:
    1. LSSU
    2. BGSU
    3. FSU
    4. UA (I know they’re west, but these teams have connection and it breaks up the Alaska trips)
    5. NMU
    6. Alabama-Huntsville

  • Anonymous

    So, the problem with the new team “super conference”- it’s going to be like the AL East. Let’s be honest, it’s been the best division in baseball hands down for 4 or 5 years. Although there are at-large bids in hockey that can’t be had in baseball, you’re still going to have a damn good team finish last (6th or 7th) in the league, probably with a very average record. There are going to be some teams that get screwed come the national scene. Just a thought.

  • Snipercohan23

    If Bob Peterson was smart now would be time to form and reinvent the CHA,  College Hockey America and also pick up Univ. of Alabama Hunstville.  You would have 11 Teams and then you give each team a 6 year contract that they have to be a member of the league for that long and give at least 2 years notice if they plan on leaving to another conference.  C’mon Bob let’s get the CHA back up and running and  take over college hockey.  You have to know that the teams out west are going to call their league Hockey West to mimic Hockey East.  This would be a perfect league for Oakland Univ.,  Ohio Univ., to move up to NCAA Div. 1.  

  • Taylor Birkelo

    Why would you want to get rid of such a good powerful conference, they did win a National Championship in the WCHA this year????

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