A look at how the conferences shape up for 2013-14 (today, anyway)

We got a request via email the other day to publish what the conference structure will look like in 2013-14, when the Big Ten and National Collegiate Hockey Conference begin play. The situation is still fluid, of course, but let’s take a look at what we have at the moment.

One caveat: I left the CCHA as it stands even though you have to think the likelihood that the league exists in 2013-14 is smaller than small. I did that because I don’t want to assume anything with the three CCHA teams that have yet to announce their intention. (We all know that Notre Dame won’t be there, but bear with me.)

So here it is:

ATLANTIC HOCKEY (12 teams, unchanged)
Air Force *
American International #
Army *
Bentley #
Canisius *
Connecticut *
Holy Cross *
Mercyhurst #
Niagara *
Rochester Institute of Technology ^
Robert Morris *
Sacred Heart *

BIG TEN (6 teams, new)
Michigan (from CCHA) *
Michigan State (from CCHA) *
Minnesota (from WCHA) *
Ohio State (from CCHA) *
Penn State (from independent) *
Wisconsin (from WCHA) *

CCHA (3 teams, loses 8)
Bowling Green *
Notre Dame *
Western Michigan *

ECAC HOCKEY (12 teams, unchanged)
Brown *
Clarkson ^
Colgate *
Cornell *
Dartmouth *
Harvard *
Princeton *
Quinnipiac *
Rensselaer ^
St. Lawrence ^
Union ^
Yale *

HOCKEY EAST (10 teams, unchanged)
Boston College *
Boston University *
Maine *
Massachusetts *
Massachusetts-Lowell #
Merrimack #
New Hampshire *
Northeastern *
Providence *
Vermont *

NCHC (6 teams, new)
Colorado College (from WCHA) ^
Denver (from WCHA) *
Miami (from CCHA) *
Minnesota-Duluth (from WCHA) #
Nebraska-Omaha (from WCHA) *
North Dakota (from WCHA) *

WCHA (9 teams, loses 7, adds 4)
Alaska (from CCHA) #
Alaska-Anchorage #
Bemidji State #
Ferris State (from CCHA) #
Lake Superior State (from CCHA) #
Michigan Tech #
Minnesota State #
Northern Michigan (from CCHA) #
St. Cloud State #

Alabama-Huntsville #

* – Schools at Division I level in all sports (38, 64 percent)
# – Schools at Division II level in most sports but Division I for hockey (15, 25 percent)
^ – Schools at Division III level in most sports but Division I for hockey (6, 10 percent)

Something jumped out to me in compiling the NCAA divisions for the schools, and that’s the remarkable change in structure that the WCHA is facing. As it stands today, it has five Division I teams, six Division II teams and one Division III team. All nine of the schools that have to date confirmed their place in the WCHA of the future are Division II members that play Division I men’s hockey. My friend Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press wrote about that here, and it’s pointed out that the WCHA needs Division I members Bowling Green or Western Michigan to keep its vote at the Division I table.

There’s no sense using concrete terms yet, though. This summer is bound to give us another twist or two.


      • Todd

        Could you also put the number of teams in each league for 2013-2014 based on the current known configuration? For example, Hockey East 10 teams, ECAC 12 teams, etc. Otherwise, thanks for making all these changes clearer to us!

  1. Todd – I read your story. Commission Bruce McLead. are grabbed almost all the CCHA team to WCHA. He doesn’t  think to share  about what 4 teams (Niagara, Mercyhurst, Robert Morris and Canisius) from AHA who wants have 18 scholarship and would be moving to CCHA in 2013-14. That’s not right! WCHA invited to Bowling Green. But Bowling Green, which was a founding member of the CCHA back in 1971, is facing a future without a home. Bowling Green are great to have all teams in CCHA. Bowling Green was orginaled with CCHA. They would be staying in CCHA. and open positions for AHA teams and UAH. joining to CCHA. All total will be 6 or 8 teams on CCHA in 2013-14. probably in after 2017. Few teams would move back to CCHA from WCHA or NCHC who knows. Keep CCHA stay alive. STOP! Be grabbed to CCHA ‘s teams by WCHA commission Bruce McLeod. :-C

    • Bowling Green has an open invite from the WCHA to join. Bowling Green has not exercised its option to join the WCHA. They have 30 days from the original invite date to accept the invitation of the WCHA. The botton line is that Bowling Green will have a home in a conference, just like Notre Dame and Western Michigan.

      I strongly suspect that Bowling Green and Western Michigan are waiting for an invite from the NCHC, while the NCHC waits for Notre Dame to announce its intention to join Hockey East, the NCHC or the WCHA.

      Other than Alabama-Huntsville, every D-I hockey program has a home or has an invite to join a league. The CCHA will be gone in two years, which is sad news for us hockey fans back east, even though we have not seen any changes. At least yet. Notre Dame could still cause a small ripple if they decide to play in Hockey East, as Hockey East has categorically stated it will always have an even number of teams for scheduling purposes. 

  2. I am guessing Notre Dame goes independent and gets their games teelvised on Versus/NBC Sports. Then Western joins NCHA. The question is then , who would the NCHA rather have to make it an even 8 teams….St. Cloud State or Bowling Green? My guess is even though SCSU has been better talent wise lately, the NCHA would prefer Bowling Green because they are a D1 school with D1 money.

    • Here how I think it works out.

      A: Notre Dame goes to NCHC. Western Michigan goes with them to NCHC. Bowling Green goes to WCHA. Alabama-Huntville remains independent.NCHC has 8 schools, WCHA has 10 schools. The dancing stops there. 70% chance of happening
      B. Notre Dame goes to Hockey East. Western Michigan and Bowling Green go to NCHC. Alabama-Huntsville gets invited to WCHA. Random team X from AHA goes to Hockey East. NCHC has 8 teams, WCHA has 10 teams. Hockey East has 12 teams. Atlantic Hockey has 11 teams. (Hockey East will not go to 11 school league. It is either 10 current or 12, 14 or another multiple of 2.) 25% chance of happening.
      C. Notre Dame goes independent and has no one to schedule during league play, since HE, ECAC, AHA, WCHA, BTHC and NCHC all have an even number of teams. Notre Dame is independent only in football and only because of the national football fanbase. Western Michigan and Bowling Green go to NCHC. Alabama-Huntsville gets invited to WCHA. NCHC has 8 teams and WCHA has 10 teams. 5% of happening.

      It is possible in scenario B that WCHA would not invite Alabama-Huntsville, but play them during league weekends until it added UM-Moorhead’s proposed program.

      In the end, HE 10 teams (12) ECAC 12 teams, AHA 12 (11) teams, BTHC 6 teams, WCHA 10 teams, NCHC 8 teams, Independent 1 team (0)

      • “Random Team X from AHA goes to Hockey East.”

        Random X team is UCONN.  They’re already in the WHEA and are a natural fit with all the other New England state schools in the league.  I actually think UCONN to HEA was inevitable anyway, this would just expedite that move.

        • I completely agree with this assessment, but in other threads people have pointed out some concerns to be ironed out, the biggest being Title IX and UConn’s current reluctance to offer scholarships for Men’s Hockey.

          I see a large television market, a large public university with a very successful athletic program that has alumni in New York and Boston, and ties to the World Wide Leader. Hockey East on ESPNU would be a nice fit.

          If not UConn, Hockey East would find another New England school from AHA. The only ECAC schools in New England are part of the Ivy League in all other sports and they will not leave to join HE. They would leave to create a six-team Ivy League Hockey Conference. The New York schools will stick together for rivalry and travel purposes.

  3. My question is who is going to be the last CCHA member?

    Bowling Green, WMU, and Notre Dame? NCHC or WCHA or Hockey East?

    Bowling Green said in Bowling Green blogs and newspaper have stated that they will accept the WCHA offer for 2013-2014.

    They know they will not get an invite to the NCHC. They will try to poach another member maybe St Cloud.

    Why doesnt WMU go to the NCHC? I heard they were approached? They wouldnt have to wait for Notre Dames decision.

  4. When talking about Notre Dame, you always have to look at the football realignment that Texas A & M is kicking off.  The Big 10 and Southeast Conferences will probably grow to 16 teams.  Notre Dame is always mentioned with the Big 10, though they have always resisted.  At some point, the money might just be too big, especially if their FB team keeps losing.  NBC might not stay with them forever.  If this happens, the hockey team will be in the Big 10.  Also makes one wonder if this is why they have been non-commital about hockey confernces to date.

  5. Awesome article, I was just wondering now that most of the dominos have fallen except for the big blue and gold one, the picture should be a lot clearer now

    • KR – If the Ivies left for their own league, it would be a six-team league with a VERY short season, as the Ivy League does not play games during exam periods. This is why the Ivy League football champion does not play in the FCS (D-I AA) playoffs. Since all six Ivy League teams are Division I, they keep their D-I seat.

      The Ivy League Hockey conference would have an autobid with six schools and consist of: Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Yale, with Columbia and Penn currently not fielding D-I hockey.

      The ECAC would retain its autobid with six schools and consist of : Clarkson, Colgate, Quinnipiac, RPI, St Lawrence and Union. Colgate and Quinnipiac are D-I schools across the board, so ECAC and ILHC would both have a seat at the D-I table.

      I personally see little difference between a 12-team ECAC and two 6-team leagues, other than autobids. The conferences would probably each other during “league” play, even if it were one less game per team for “non-conference” games between ILHC and ECAC. For example, two teams would travel to Clarkson/St Lawrence and swap Friday/Saturday opponents.

      The Ivies are definitely stable enough and well-funded enough to make their own league. The non-Ivies are all in New York State and Western Connecticut (Fairfield County IIRC), so travel makes sense. I am not sure if AHA would poach schools, be poached or pull a WCHA/CCHA style merger.

      ECAC is a stable league and the Ivies are satisfied with the current state of affairs. I have not heard any of the schools complaining about anything. I always wonder about their post-season tournament, as it has been in search of a permanent natural home. My guess is that if the Ivies left, they would not host a tournament and give the autobid to the regular season winner like they do in a basketball and football.

      If a non-Ivy ECAC were to be formed, I imagine that the tournament would be moved to Albany/Syracuse on a nearly permanent basis. Perhaps they would rotate. You can count Rochester out as long as RIT is in AHA and count Buffalo out as long as Niagara is in AHA.

    • I’d make a case that Air Force would be a good candidate for the NCHC, much better that the suggestions of Bowling Green and Western Michigan.  NCHC is a much better fit geographically for Air Force than Atlantic Hockey.  Notre Dame goes to NCHC, Bowling Green and W. Michigan go to WCHA, Alabama Hutsville goes to Atlantic Hockey, and all God’s children have a home.

      • There is NO chance that Air Force gets an invite to the new NCHC. They just don’t put the money into their college hockey program to get the invite. So that isn’t going to happen.

  6. For the best of college hockey i would like to see Notre Dame ignore the NCHC. Why?

    Because it would be better for college hockey to have Bowling Green and WMU to play in the NCHC. Both teams would take a downward slide in the WCHA going to small barns with no natraul rivals of going to places like Soo, Houghton, Bemdji,,Mankato and St Cloud.

    In the NCHC both Bowling Green and WMU could play their MAC foe Miami and each other which would be a bonus. Plus they could play NC games against MSU, Michigan, Notre Dame and OSU.

    By playing in the WCHA they downplaying themselves to D2 schools in a far distance. In the NCHC they play equal opponents ie similar programs plus make room to play strong NC teams.

    So please Notre Dame go Independent or Hockey East.

    Also, Denver, CC, UMD, UNO and ND, let Bowling Green and WMU in and shutout Notre Dame for the good of college hockey if you know what i mean.

    By this happening the WCHA could look to expand with Moorhead, UAH Chargers, Robert Morris, or Mercyhurst.

    • You obviously haven’t been tortured the past 15 years like me, seeing Bowling Green and Western come to town to play hockey.  Year in year out, they are very mediocre programs.  The stands are often half empty when they come to town!

      • I could see both BG and WMU disappearing in a league with northern Michigan teams, northern Minnesota teams, and Alaska teams. With a big league of 11-12 teams they wouldnt have too many NC games to play and no rivals with teams that are D2 schools. Travel to these small towns would be very costly. Both schools are enjoyed the CCHA as they had all close teams to play ie MSU, Michgan, Miami, OSU, Notre Dame.

        It would benifit both schools to play in a small league NCHC of 8 schools with very similar D1 schools. They could play the league schedule and have lots of room to schedule local teams(OSU,MSU,Mich, ND, in NC play.

        The MAC factor also plays into the equation. League games against Miami, BG and WMU would be good PR for the league in Michigan and Ohio.

        Both programs could grow  playing opponents with top notch programs from the WCHA and recruiting and exposure will help in the long run.

        I believe both WMU and BG programs would die in the new WCHA. Travel would kill the programs,no rivals, and no room for NC games against local college teams. 

        Would rather be a big house in a small city or a small house in a big city?

  7. From a Gophers fan perspective; don’t care for the “new” BIG 10 alignment which effectively kills some storied rivalries from the “old” WCHA, namely UMD and UND. Also a bit of a step back for some of the other MN State colleges especially BSU who lobbied hard for membership with a new arena and have grown into their D1 shoes rather quickly. Might be a bit harder for teams to make the tournament Was excited to see Blais and UNO come in as well.  I get it that alot of the old teams will show up at times on the schedule but will PENN ST hockey even matter? If anything It’ll create more fan apathy inside more than a few rinks this season and that won’t sell tickets.Good luck with that. Ok so I’m whining!

  8. Here is my feeling on the Big Picture of the new WCHA.

    First, I see it for MTU it is like having friends for many years and all sudden it looks like St Cloud will be the latest to bail on MTU and the WCHA. Wouldnt it have been easier for mtu to save the CCHA with their team and cup.

    Heres my picture of the New WCHA 2013-2014

    MTU Huskies- lack of wins, leadership(to many coaches over the years), remote
                          area nobody wants to go beat up. lack of bluechippers.
                          Living in the past(3 NCAAs nobody remembers)

    NMU Wildcats– Future NCHC team, great leadership, great city for small town,  Gets bluechippers, Has some NCAA appearences, Could win league many years before being accepted into NCHC.(1 NCAA Championship) 

    LSSU Lakers– Jumped at the WCHA, remote town, great history, lack of wins lately, (3 NCAA championships)

    Ferris State- Just in a bad location in a small rink,

    WMU Broncos- The NCHC just wont take them. NHL coach-great. Kalmazoo just isnt appealing enough for the big time college hockey citys. Lack of leadership(coach changes). North Dakota and Denver just dont want to visit.

    Bowling Green–lack of fans, wins, money, and appeal. Great history. Just doesnt have support to play in the NCHC. Western teams dont want to play BG.

    Bemdji- Glad to be in the WCHA better then Division 3.

    Mankato- Lack of wins and appeal. At least it is a minnesota school which teams want to play.

    UAA and Alaska— Both teams are here because nobody wants to travel here anymore if they dont have to. So the small schools and the MAC schools will get left the privalage to fly every year.

    A league of small towns in the remote woods and big schools that nobody wants to play.

     Like they say in the real estate business LOCATION, LOCATION, AND LOCATION.

    And thats what the 2013-2014 New WCHA will lack.

  9. In summary there are 3 well established Division 1 college hockey conferences unchanged Atlantic, ECAC & Hockey East.2 new conferences, The Big 10 & NCHC, that are made from major colleges or highly successfull hockey programs.This leaves the “new” WHCA. As of today the 2013-14 league is 9 Division II schools with Division I Hockey programs.I think the “new” WCHA should get TWO automatic bids to the NCAA tournament. The WCHA’s & the CCHA’S. That would balance the scales of division I college hockey a bit and help support the new WCHA which will probably be the financialy weakest and most at risk league in division I hockey.


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