Temporary measure sought to help Alabama-Huntsville schedule home games

College Hockey Inc. will ask the NCAA next month to add a temporary travel exemption for Alabama-Huntsville in hopes of helping the struggling independent team schedule more home games.

The NCAA’s travel exemption, which allows schools to travel for games in Alaska and Hawaii and not have them count toward their season limit — 34 regular-season contests in Division I hockey — would need to be passed soon. Many hockey programs are close to finalizing next season’s schedule if the administrators haven’t already.

College Hockey Inc. executive director Paul Kelly said the organization, which promotes the college game, would ask for the exemption to last two to three years during its regularly scheduled meeting with top NCAA officials.

“I’m not sure if it is even doable for next year,” Kelly said after Saturday’s Alaska-Anchorage at Colorado College game in Colorado Springs, Colo. “But the NCAA can move quickly if it wants to.”

Scheduling home games has always been tough for UAH, but the Chargers (1-17-1) lost most of their 2012-13 scheduled opponents, home and away, after school administrators announced on Oct. 24 that they would drop the Division I program to club status for next season.

Many of the Chargers’ scheduled opponents spent the next month scheduling new opponents.

The decision to pull the plug on the varsity program was reversed Tuesday, prompting Kelly to propose the temporary rule. He hopes the NCAA will see fit to approve it.

“It’s what they need,” Kelly said. “They need to fill those holes. It wouldn’t set a precedent because the move would be temporary because of an unusual situation.”

If the NCAA moves quickly, Kelly expects coaches to take advantage of their 2012-13 bye weeks to schedule the Chargers, who already pay for some of their opponents’ travel expenses.

“Most coaches love to play more games,” he said.

Of course, life would be much simpler for the Chargers if they were a member of a conference with much of its schedule filled by league games.

Kelly said Atlantic Hockey may be “the only legit candidate” for UAH, which has been an independent since the CHA folded in 2010.

It is unlikely UAH will have any neighbors to form a southern conference anytime soon.

Kelly said several schools, including a couple in the Southeast, have “kicked the tires” about adding men’s hockey. No additions are imminent, he added.

UAH is the host school for this season’s Frozen Four, April 5 and 7 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla.


      • Better geographic synergy in the WCHA. Air Force and Army could still play a home and home each year if they wanted to, and it’d be more convenient for the rest of the teams in their respective conferences.

  1. The solution lies in adding teams.  The Univ. of Louisville, Cincinnati, Univ. of Kentucky, Univ. of Arizona and Arizona State, along with a host of other schools in UAH’s region have good club teams that could make the jump to D1 with more local support and funding.  UAH should help lead the way to creating the SCHA (Southern Collegiate Hockey Association).  Provide everyone with the plan and a vision of what would be possible and UAH could be leading a 6-8 team southern conference in no time.

    But people need to be able to see the plan.  Name the potential member schools.  Get letters of support from the coaches at several of those schools.  Headquarter the league in Huntsville since they would be the charter member.  There is obviously great community spirit in Huntsville.  Build on that to not only strengthen UAH hockey but the new league as well.

  2. Hey UAH Coaches and Fans,

    Have a plan and vision for the SCHA in place for the Frozen Four in April.  You guys should be the ones leading the way.  Make it grand. Add palm trees and sunny weather in your literature.  Get two or three schools to agree say they are exploring a move to D1 and be with you in St. Pete for the multi-day sales pitch.  You will get tons of press and get everyone talking and thinking about the possibilities.

    “UAH is the host school for this season’s Frozen Four, April 5 and 7 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla.
    Read more: http://www.uscho.com/2011/12/11/temporary-measure-sought-to-help-alabama-huntsville-schedule-home-games/#ixzz1gLPTnwtL

  3. Air Force has said again and again that they like the AHA because it gives them a good chance to make the NCAAS each year. I doubt they’d give that opportunity up for a spot in the WCHA.

    • St Cloud would have a better chance of making the NCAAS if they stayed in the WCHA, but instead they took the invite to the NCHC.  Why?  Playing in a better conference makes you a better team usually.  Air Force would have a better travel schedule in the WCHA and a higher level of competition.  It would be a wuss move to stay in the AHA only for the auto-bid. 

      Other thing to note…  The WCHA will have two teams from Alaska in the conference starting 2013.  More miles to log than any other conference by far.  Time for AF to move, and an eastern conference to step up and make a trip every other year. 

      • I disagree. Consider the limitations on available talent because AFA is a service academy (American players willing to serve in military for 5 years). That makes the AHA the right fit for the Falcons.

        • Considered and you make a good point.  At the same time, I think UAH would be more competitive in the AHA and AF would fit in well in the WCHA.  Most importantly, the remaining schools in the WCHA are not big budget schools, and adding ANOTHER long trip to those schools travel load is frankly, not fair.  Wish some other southern schools would get some programs going.

  4. Air Force should be in either the WCHA or NCHC. If it is in Air Force’s interests to stay in the Mountain West for football rather than the Big East, then it stands to reason that it is also in the best interest of the institution, and the general public that pays for the Falcons’ travel, to have all of its athletic teams in a western conference.


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