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College Hockey:
WCHA unanimously approves adding Alabama-Huntsville for 2013-14 season

Alabama-Huntsville’s long drive for conference affiliation ended Thursday when the WCHA voted unanimously to admit the Chargers to the league, with the move coming at least in part next season.

The Chargers have been an independent since College Hockey America folded after the 2009-10 season, and it appeared at one point that the 2011-12 season would be their last. A grass-roots effort helped restore the team’s varsity status while it pursued a new conference.

Now that it also has that in place, it’s thinking big.

“While we realize it’s going to be very difficult and very challenging, we want to win the WCHA,” athletic director E.J. Brophy said Thursday night. “We want to go to the NCAA tournament. We want to go deep into the NCAA tournament. I don’t really believe in five-year plans or three-year plans. I believe in winning now.”

The WCHA will make a “good faith effort” to make the Chargers full members with a 28-game league schedule next season, commissioner Bruce McLeod said. But he estimated that league schedules were 95 percent done for 2013-14, making it a difficult proposition to work things out.

If a full schedule isn’t possible, the WCHA can offer UAH some games against league teams next season and the 10th spot in the playoffs, much as it did for Minnesota State before it gained full league membership in 1999.

The WCHA and Alabama-Huntsville also still have to finalize details for travel subsidies that the Chargers will pay to league teams visiting Huntsville. Alaska-Anchorage has had a similar arrangement since joining the league in 1993 and Alaska will as well when it becomes a member next season.

“We were asked to provide a subsidy to schools,” Brophy said. “We felt that was very fair.”

The WCHA is losing Minnesota and Wisconsin to the Big Ten and six others to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference next season. It is picking up five members from the dissolving CCHA and will be a 10-team league with the addition of Alabama-Huntsville.

An Alabama-Huntsville group made a presentation to the WCHA at league meetings Thursday morning connected to the NCAA Convention near Dallas. Presidents from league schools asked the UAH representatives — Brophy, president Robert Altenkirch and faculty athletic representative Brent Wren — to return in the afternoon, when they made a formal invitation. UAH accepted on the spot.

“It’s just a really big day for everybody that is involved now or has ever been involved with our hockey program,” Brophy said. “For us to be admitted into the WCHA is just a real windfall for us.”


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  • http://www.facebook.com/dpmccargar Danny Paul McCargar Jr.

    Good for them. Glad to see that they’ll keep Varsity status and get into a conference. The more the merrier (as long as no other Minnesota schools go D-1).

    • nogofer

      MSU-Moorhead?

  • http://twitter.com/BartRhett BartRhett

    I enjoy this

  • A Shot and a Goal

    Congrats to UAH on having found a conference home.

  • sioux rule

    Great news. Nobody wants to see programs fold. Their persistance paid off.

    • butchie

      Agreed. Kudos to new WCHA for stepping up for the good of college hockey. Good luck to both.

  • http://twitter.com/QUAthletics Quinnipiac Athletics

    Congrats to UAH! Jim Harris did some very good lobbying from Hockey Heaven! This is great for UAH and all of college hockey! Congrats UAH and Thank You WCHA!

  • http://twitter.com/EdM3rd Ed M. 3rd.

    Nice to see them in a Conf. That is better for recruiting and fan support.I hope the fans in Alabama support them at the box office-ticket sales . I believe it is Ala.-Huntsville only Div. one sport. Are they Div. two in all other sports?????

    • Roman Uschak

      Yes, UAH is D-II in all other sports. Glad they got in – good job, WCHA, and Go Chargers

  • jdhockeyboyz

    I’m pleased that UAH has finally found a permanent home. D1 college hockey is such a small group that it’s painful to think of of shrinking numbers. The new WCHA has the numbers right with 10 members, I sure hope they can make it work with the miles involved.

  • jmsptrk

    good news. more hockey is always a good thing.

  • SinisterExaggerator

    Really happy for the Chargers, and grateful to the WCHA for making the right decision…

  • Joseph Crowley

    This Hockey East fan is happy the Chargers found a home. While there was not a permanent home for the Chargers in Hockey East, I am glad Joe Bertagna and the league was able to help with interim scheduling.

  • http://www.facebook.com/phil.vanschepen Phil Van Schepen

    Congrats to UAH and the WCHA for taking a long view approach to college hockey as opposed to the short term money grab of BTHC and NCHA. Now if we can get the Rocket City Rednecks to build a rocket powered Zamboni or a missile out of old hockey sticks we can get UAH hockey on the mind of everybody.

  • HuntsvilleGuy

    Yes, you rock WCHA!! And suck it Tuscaloosa for trying to kill our historical hockey program!

  • GoldyTheGreat

    Great news! Now start recruiting Minnesota/Canada kids like ND and you’ll be on your way!

    • nogofer

      And schedule as many B1G games as you can to pad your win column…

  • MNGOPHERINBAMA

    This MN Golden Gopher hockey lover living in Huntsville will absolutely support UAH! Go Chargers! And GOOOOO GOPHERS!! Smoke the SIOUX this weekend!!

  • reardensteel

    This is nice for UAH, but I think it’s pretty disappointing that the WCHA fell apart the way it did.
    Just when all the schools in MN with D1 hockey were in the same conference and a lot of them were starting to pick things up.

    Now the WCHA is almost becoming another Atlantic Hockey, with just a few relevant schools and a bunch of also-rans.

  • just_bobness

    They should name this the LCHA… the Leftover Collegiate Hockey League… then ten teams no one else wanted.

    • nogofer

      Why do you bother?

  • Guest

    Welcome to the WCHA UAH!

  • http://www.facebook.com/zachary.triscuit Zachary Triscuit

    From BU fan, I’m very happy for the UAH Chargers. A great day for college hockey!!!