The annual NCAA Convention recently wrapped up, with little implication for hockey. However, two proposals did impact Division III.
(This item is discussed in further detail in Chris Lerch’s Division III column. ed.).
Proposition 41 would have reduced the length of Division III winter sports, including hockey, from 21 weeks to 19 weeks. It was defeated, 196-166-6. The main reason given by schools that voted against the proposal was that programs have the ability to self-limit themselves in terms of season length and number of games. The ECAC East and NESCAC currently do this.
The other major proposal, Proposition 42, attempts to fix problems with the NCAA selection process that have existed since the last major modification four years ago. It called for two major changes:
• Lower the ratio of tournament slots to total number of eligible institutions, from 1.7 to 1.65. In the case of hockey, which currently has 68 eligible programs, this would expand the field from nine to 10 teams.
• Allow Pool B programs to also be eligible for a Pool C bid, which would be welcomed by teams from the ECAC West and MCHA. The current process restricts teams from non-qualifying conferences (those with no automatic bid) and independents to Pool B only, which in hockey consists of a single slot (one for every 6.5 teams in Pool B, rounded down).
Proposition 42 passed by an overwhelming margin (306-59-3) but does not take effect until the 2005-2006 season. If no new teams are added, and no conferences are re-organized, this means that there will be 10 teams going to the NCAAs: The six automatic qualifiers (champions from the ECAC East, ECAC Northeast, MIAC, NCHA, NESCAC and SUNYAC), one team guaranteed from Pool B (ECAC West, MCHA, Scranton), and three at-large bids, available to all teams.
Another similar plan, Proposition 43, would have guaranteed that 50 percent of the bids go to at-large teams. This would have been even better for hockey, allowing for a 12-team field with five Pool C bids, but since what it did was not substantially different from Proposition 42 for most Division III sports, it was tabled in favor of Proposition 42.