Notre Dame has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday, at which it will announce it will join Hockey East, sources have said.
The Fighting Irish were considering Hockey East and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference for the 2013-14 season, but the NCHC issued a news release Sunday, saying it would start with the eight teams that had already committed.
In Notre Dame, Hockey East adds a national name with a large fan base and a program that was in the Frozen Four last season and opens the 2011-12 campaign No. 1 in the USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll.
But the South Bend, Ind., school is well outside the league’s current New England base, and it takes Hockey East to 11 teams — an uneven structure that in the past has been seen by some conference commissioners as undesirable.
Adding a 12th team to Hockey East could involve ECAC Hockey in the realignment discussion that has dominated the offseason.
In March, the Big Ten Conference announced it was forming a six-team league in 2013-14, taking Michigan, Michigan and Michigan State from the CCHA and Minnesota and Wisconsin from the WCHA. Penn State starts varsity play as an independent in 2012-13 before joining its Big Ten counterparts a year later.
The NCHC was unveiled in July, with charter members Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota from the WCHA and Miami from the CCHA.
The WCHA responded by adding Northern Michigan from the CCHA and later offering spots to five CCHA members. Alaska, Ferris State and Lake Superior State accepted, while Bowling Green and Western Michigan did not commit.
In September, the NCHC offered spots to St. Cloud State from the WCHA and Western Michigan; both accepted.
Also Tuesday, Bowling Green announced it had accepted the WCHA’s invitation. Reports had also linked Atlantic Hockey schools to discussions on realignment.