Northern Michigan board votes to seek spot in WCHA

Northern Michigan’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a proposal for the school’s hockey team to pursue a spot in the WCHA.

The vote, as reported by Mining Journal reporter Matt Wellens via Twitter, comes a day ahead of a WCHA meeting in St. Paul, Minn., where adding an additional member is expected to be considered.

The WCHA is losing seven teams — two to the Big Ten, five to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference — in the 2013-14 season, which would leave it with five members. Six teams are needed for a conference to maintain an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Northern Michigan joined the CCHA in 1977 but left for the WCHA along with Upper Peninsula rival Michigan Tech in 1984. The Wildcats moved back to the CCHA in 1997.

It would be the fifth school to leave the 11-team CCHA in 2013, joining three schools going to the Big Ten (Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State) and one to the NCHC (Miami). Notre Dame and Western Michigan also could be exiting the conference at the same time.

The WCHA’s lineup for 2013-14 as it stands now includes Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State and St. Cloud State.

“I felt the schools that will be in the WCHA in 2013-14 share many similarities with Northern,” school president Les Wong said in a statement. “We all have similar locations with hometowns that passionately support their hockey programs. We also all offer similar academic offerings and have similar student bodies. We all have strong NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs but a Division I hockey program. Having our hockey team travel west also complements our recruiting footprint for not just athletics, but the university as a whole.”

Said interim athletic director Steve Reed: “We share many natural rivalries with the new WCHA programs and the league offers geographical balance for us. With the changing landscape in college hockey in 2013-14, it is important for us to consider all options and choose the one we feel works best for NMU hockey at this time.”


  1. It makes the most sense given current circumstances. It is also nice to have Michigan Tech in the same conference, but I will not jump up and down with excitement. If the Detroit Red Wings move to the Eastern Conference, that would be something to celebrate.

  2. Seems like a good fit – another one of those who figured out later they should never have left.  Now we’ll see down the road in 5 years or so who else will be begging to get back into the real national collegiate hockey conference with 37 national championships (sorry, you don’t get to take them with you; looking in your direction, U of MN schools!)

    • Every conference has a bottom feeder……’s the natural order of things.

      After a few years of no conference titles, no NCAA appearances, and a half empty home arena at least one or two will come crawling back.

      They’ll figure out being on TV ( shown on tape delay in select markets) isn’t all it was cracked up to be. 

      Time will tell.

      !!! Welcome NMU !!! (well not offically yet, but..) 

      • What? NMU was in the NCAA in 2010. They lost to SCSU at the X.  I know its hard to believe that SCSU actually won a NCAA playoff game.  

        • Sorry for the confusion – I was referring to NCHC teams not NMU – I should have made more clear.

          ……….one or more NCHC teams will end up being a bottom feeder in that conference……….and wish they were back in the WHCA or CCHA – and come crawling back.  That’s what I meant.

  3. Are you kidding me! NMU is not crawling back to the WCHA. All of the old “WCHA is the powerhouse” BS wasn’t true before and definately is NOT true now. Lets face it, the BTHC and the ACHC stipped both of our conferences of their “good” teams. The super conference will find out that teams like western mich and others will not end up panning out. That said, Im hopeful that the wildcats can join the WCHA and  when we pound on Mich Tech, it will be for conference points.

    • Sorry if you misintrepreted my earlier post about teams crawling back to the WCHA… was not in reference to NMU….it was in reference to NCHC teams.

  4. It was a dumb move to leave the CCHA in the first place in 1997, but the past is the past.  I’m stunned LSSU hasn’t followed NMU and joined up with Michigan Tech.  Lake State’s leadership is clearly a big DUD.  

  5. Where else would NMU go?  There’s no sense to stay with LSSU, Ferris St.,
    BGU,  and Alaska.  If WMU were to stay in the CCHA, then NMU would be
    more inclined to remain as well.  If the new Northern league is to be a challenge
    for the big ten, how does WMU fit in?  They have one good year and now their
    some sort of power house?  NMU is the team that would fit better with the likes of CC and UMD.  Take a look at their win-loss records over the last 15 years.

    • WMU is a very weak program.  I visited Lawson Arena in 1997, and hear it is still the same.  NMU has issues with the Berry Events Center, but oh my, Lawson is a dump

  6. A great move. NMU will bring a National Championship, a bunch of Frozen Fours, a bigtime coach (Walt Kyle may be the best coach in college hockey) and fans that love their Cats. The Tech-NMU rivalry will help both programs and the new WCHA. As a Husky fan (St Cloud State) great to have you aboard!

  7. One good thing about the smaller conference is that now these smaller schools will have a better chance of making the NCAA tournament! I don’t agree with whats going on but in the long run gives the smaller schools a better chance to make it on the big stage come March. You can probably count on 2 hands the amount of NCAA appearances Bemidji, Mankato, Northern Mich, Mich Tech, Anchorage, St Cloud has made in the last 15 years. Now they are guaranteed 1 team in the dance.

    To be exact dating back to 1995:

    7 – SCSU (I could see them going to the NCHC)
    4 – Bemidji (All 4 from the weaker CHA)
    2 – Northern Michigan
    1 – MSU Mankato
    0 – Tech
    0 – Anchorage

  8. WMU will end up in a good conference because they are a large school.  No one good season doesn’t make a powerhouse, but they are crawling out of the basement left over from the Culhane era.  Keep in mind they also have 15-16 other Div I sports to worry about.


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