The decision by the MAAC to force its member teams to cancel previously-scheduled games against Findlay has come under fire, not only by Findlay officials, but long-time conference commissioners Bruce McLeod and Joe Bertagna.
Last month, Richard Ensor, commissioner of the multi-sport MAAC, cited league by-laws when forcing four teams to drop eight scheduled games against Findlay, a member of College Hockey America and an “emerging” NCAA Division I program. Ensor said league rules prohibited MAAC schools from playing teams that did not have full NCAA Division I status.
A recent press release coming out of the CHA office, over which McLeod — who is also WCHA commissioner — presides, took a shot at the MAAC.
“The MAAC policy states that conference members must play only NCAA Division I members,” it said. “However, there is the ability to vote in a waiver, and the MAAC has granted waiver exceptions to its Division I rule for other sports in the past.”
Findlay, which is currently in its two-year probationary period to receive full Division I status, played MAAC teams last year, something the MAAC called an oversite.
The cancelling of the games left Findlay short of the minimum necessary to meet the requirements of NCAA Division I provisional status.
“The bottom line is we are disappointed in the MAAC decision not to grant Findlay a one-time waiver to the policy,” said McLeod. “Our major concern now is for Findlay to come up with the eight additional Division I games.”
CHA coaches have passed a motion in support of Findlay’s efforts to schedule additional games.
“I’m very disappointed that the MAAC would not use its own waiver to provide relief to Findlay,” said Bertagna, executive director for the American Hockey Coaches Association and commissioner of Hockey East.
“This is really a short-term issue for Findlay. [But] the hockey community is still a minority in the ranks of the NCAA, and this is an unprecedented approach to the sport. We usually help one another in the hockey community.
“I’m further perplexed that there seems to be a lack of understanding [by the MAAC] as to why this is an issue.”
Findlay recently completed its transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II for all sports, and, as of Sept. 1, the men’s and women’s hockey programs start a two-year transition to Division I status. As a result, the Oilers must play a minimum of 25 Division I opponents during the 2000-01 playing season.
Findlay is in the process of rescheduling games.