Sources: Notre Dame leaving Hockey East for Big Ten in 2017

Notre Dame is preparing to leave Hockey East for the Big Ten in the 2017-18 season, sources told USCHO on Tuesday.

The school joined Hockey East three seasons ago in the massive conference realignment for western schools.

That coincided with the formation of the Big Ten, which has been at six teams but is poised to add a seventh.

Big Ten coaches and administrators have long said that a six-team league wasn’t ideal and have mentioned a goal of expanding. No Big Ten schools have seemed to be imminently considering adding a varsity men’s hockey program, however.

The Big Ten has had a policy of not inviting affiliate members for single sports but recently added Johns Hopkins for men’s lacrosse.

“That was the first time ever that we had entered into an affiliate membership agreement with a single sport,” Big Ten deputy commissioner Brad Traviolia told USCHO in February. “Affiliate membership for hockey is an option. I wouldn’t say it’s the only option or it’s the inevitable option, but it’s something that the conference is willing to consider since we’ve somewhat opened that door with lacrosse.”

On Tuesday, Traviolia told the Star Tribune that the addition of Notre Dame would help the league become more competitive nationally.

For the second straight season, only one Big Ten team is in the 16-team NCAA tournament, and the league ranked fourth of six in Division I men’s hockey with a .500 combined nonconference record.

“We felt that affiliation membership is a mutually beneficial way to grow Big Ten hockey,” Traviolia told the Star Tribune. “… We’re going to be better off as a hockey conference for it.”

On Friday, Notre Dame will play former CCHA and future Big Ten foe Michigan in the first round of the NCAA tournament in the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.

Playing those kinds of old foes on a more regular basis has sparked enthusiasm for the move at Notre Dame, senior associate athletic director Tom Nevala told the Star Tribune.

“There is great excitement because we’re renewing the rivalries that we cherish, and it will be great to go to those campuses on a regular basis,” he told the newspaper.

Also, sources confirmed that travel within the league was a major decision point for Notre Dame. In Hockey East, the Irish have to travel a much greater total distance over the length of the season than any other school.

The move will at least temporarily leave Hockey East with 11 schools; it had been at 10 until 2013, when Notre Dame joined after leaving the dissolving CCHA. Connecticut left Atlantic Hockey to make it a 12-team league in 2014.

The last major conference realignment started in 2010 when Penn State announced it planned to add men’s and women’s hockey programs with a donation from Terry and Kim Pegula. That made it six Big Ten schools sponsoring men’s hockey teams, the minimum number for the league to support the sport.

After a year playing as an independent, Penn State joined the newly formed Big Ten hockey league in 2013, bringing Minnesota and Wisconsin from the WCHA and Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State from the CCHA.

That same year, Notre Dame broke for Hockey East, while some schools from the WCHA and CCHA formed the NCHC. (See our conference timeline for more.)


  1. As a season ticket holder for the Gophers, I met with a season ticket rep before the last game of the season regarding my feelings about B1G hockey and my experience as season ticket holder. He told me that the Gophers had been lobbying with the B1G to drop the Thursday night games and to add more teams to the league, as six doesn’t cut it. I asked if it was going to be Arizona State and he said no, that they were looking at one or two established teams to bring into the B1G. I never thought it would be Notre Dame. Norte Dame will be a good addition and this is a step in the right direction for the B1G

        • North Dakota’s main rival is in the Big Ten and they stand to gain a decent bit in terms of money and exposure by joining the Big Ten. I think the fact that they have little ties to the NCHC (as a league) will mean North Dakota would at least seriously consider an invite

          • North Dakota and Denver were the two primary role takers to form the NCHC. They aren’t leaving anytime soon.

          • Sorry, but they’d join in a heart beat if the B1G wanted them. The reason? 3 letters: BTN. Its a joke network but it still provides waaay more money than the current NCHC-CBSSN deal.

          • No they wouldn’t. They could make more money but then they would also have to watch their program turn into a shadow of its former self. You only get better by playing the best teams, the big ten has one good team, Michigan and that’s it. Besides the BTN barley shows hockey. The Bigten would have to offer UND full membership and that won’t happen.

          • Don’t get ahead of yourself with Michigan. Yes, they can put up some goals, but you have to take into account the teams they were competing against. Absolutely no defense. And Michigan’s defense is sketchy itself.

          • the crap 6 network doesn’t even show games until almost December. How are they going to get all of this exposure to teams? On a good night, they will have two conference games on. So that leave two teams not on tv. Add two more teams to the conference….how will they all get more time on tv than they already are not getting?

          • Minnesota was North Dakota’s main rivial, however 3 years and the fact that Minnesota is now a shadow of what it was means that North Dakota is more concerned about NCHC and other non-conference opponents. When the two team meet in 2018 it won’t be like the old days, not of the kids will have experienced or played with upperclassmen who experienced it. Also I doubt the Gophers will be a serious contender unless they change the culture in how they play and recruit. Luckily Minnesota has 4 other division one hockey programs, So what if the arrogant monster from the east bank becomes a has been in hockey, Saint Cloud and Mankato are only an hour away.

    • Couldn’t agree more. I’m thinking Miami could be the other one? Makes sense geographically, they are historically strong team, and they have some brand-name or mission at least. Then you could see Arizona State replace them in the meantime in the NCHC

      • I think some upper tier WCHA teams would jump at an opportunity to get in the WCHA. Mankato or Mich Tech jump to mind.

          • Tech has old rivalries with UM, Minn, Wisc, and MSU…it’d be a major boon to attendance in Houghton (sell outs against all those schools very high probability) and Tech under Pearson is pretty damn good.

            It improves the competitiveness of the conference and renews tradition for the western B1G schools which have been hurt since the realignment. UND, Denver or St. Cloud could fill that same void but I can’t come up with a reason for them to leave the best conference in the country. Tech has a very obvious reason to bring the MacNaughton Cup to the B1G. It is sitting on the outside in March with a 700 win percentage.

          • No one in the Big Integer is concerned about selling a few more tickets to a game. They’re interested in value for TV. Tech offers…well, none, really.

            Adding North Dakota would smash the image that the Big Integer is just a made for TV league that doesn’t care about hockey.

          • But UND doesn’t have a reason to jump from the NCHC. They are thriving with a national TV contract. Why would they go?

          • What national contract? The minuscule deal the conference (not UND) has with CBSSN to show a few conf. games a year? Small potatoes compared to BTN money/expsure. Sorry but UND would jump if the B1G asked them to join. Purely $$$.

          • Last year’s WCHA Final Five outdrew this year’s B1G Tourney in attendance at the X by thousands…UND’s NCHC did over twice as much as B1G at the Target Center head-to-head.

            The strength of schedule makes UND damn near a shoe-in to the NCAA and yes, a contract on CBSSN isn’t much worse than what they’d make from BTN royalties. NCHC enjoys excellent TV exposure.

            Tech enjoys none of that and therefore has a big incentive to make the jump. North Dakota doesn’t.

          • Sorry, but you don’t really understand the economic realities of college sports. It’s greed, greed, greed. The CBS deal isn’t even in the same ballpark as the BTN in terms of money/exposure. TV money brings in far more money than ticket sales. Butts in the seats are irrelevant. If attendance mattered B1G hockey would have never been formed.

          • Also, Tech hosts a tourney in Detroit every year that gets 17K fans per day. They bring a lot more to the table than you seem to want to admit.

          • Because Tech has a large, and wealthy, alumni base that is hockey crazy in the BTN viewership area whereas North Dakota does not.

          • I’d say engineers make more than the average UND alumnus…and I’d also be willing to venture most UND grads do not live in BTN’s prime markets. Tech alumni do.

          • I’m pretty sure you have no way to verify that that’s the reason.

            My guess would be because UND has a separate TV deal that precludes BTN from showing them.

          • GLI isn’t on BTN. Just Fox Sports Detroit. No, I’m referencing BTN airing Tech and Wisconsin last January (2015). There has to be a reason for choosing to go with a non-conference game featuring a small 7K student UP school over other options. Tech has a large fan base given its deep roots in the sport and they are disproportionately wealthy living in the B1G’s biggest markets (Detroit, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago).

            They are travelling quite well now that the program is winning over 70% of its games the past two years. They’ll watch on TV too. I’d say it fits better than Miami (OH) or Arizona State, and I don’t see any of the big tier NCHC schools flipping. ASU makes far more sense in the new WCHA until it commits to being a major college hockey program. They are not funding their hockey experiment like Penn State with brand spanking new facilities, etc.

          • It is sitting outside because the WCHA’s SoS stunk as did the OOC schedule and record. Strictly statistics just like in the B1G. They had to at least make it to the WCHA final to hold off Minn Duluth. Couldn’t help the fact that NE won the HEA tourney. Ferris / Minn St wouldn’t have qualified either- both had to win the tourney. And the fact that the weak AHA gets an auto bid (RIT over RMU was a surprise) limits the bids to 10 at larges which are sucked up by the ECAC, NCHC and HEA.

        • The WCHA hates the Big ten and especially Minnesota right now, the age restriction that snake Lucia is trying to put in place to compensate for the failure of his recruiting strategies has ticked off the smaller schools. As far as MN State, Tech, Ferris, Bowling Green are concerned the Big Ten and the Gophers can go pound sand. WCHA is getting a good amount of pleasure in watching Gopher hockey go into the toilet. MN State and Bemidji especially, after years of being treated like crap by the U of M, not just in athletics but in academics as well.

      • Why would Ohio State not fight against that? ND works because there’s no Indiana or Purdue hockey.

        North Dakota would make sense now, actually, and just might rescue the whole thing by putting North Dakota and Minnesota back together. UND doesn’t really need Minnesota but UMN needs UND, and UND would benefit from the coverage on BTN, where the two schools would become the two big tickets.

        Would make a lot more sense than Arizona State like people talk about.

        • North Dakota doesn’t want to be in the Big Ten. Notre Dame makes sense because of the economics and ‘prolific academics’ category. As far as an 8th team? I know the University of Illinois has been tossed around in conversation, but unsure if they will ever pull the trigger. Should be interesting to see, but the Big ten wouldn’t have even allowed Notre Dame if they didn’t have a plan in place to get an 8th. Let the waiting ensue…

          • Wouldn’t Illinois have to have a viable hockey program first?

            Well actually I guess not, looking at the Big Ten.

            North Dakota is the only way they can salvage this thing and have it look like not a joke of a league.

      • With college football/basketball, the concept of geographical conferences appears to be out the window (in favor of $$$). College hockey conferences are still fairly geographical and Notre Dame was definitely a geographical outlier in Hockey East.

      • I question Miami’s profile… In the past, the BIG has demanded that all their schools be (Maryland, Rutgers) or shortly become (Nebraska) qualified research institutions. Johns Hopkins met that standard as an affiliate in lacrosse. Not sure about ND, but their academic standard is very high.

    • B1G will be in need a Commissioner for Ice Hockey, I would nominate Tom Anastos. Highly qualified, much more than he is in his current position…

    • It was only a matter of time for ND to join the BIG in hockey. Recruiting Johns Hopkins as an associate in lacrosse (to have an AQ conference) paved the way. Only conference that made sense for ND.

  2. Well this is dumb. You see what the Big 6/7 has done to Minnesota hockey and you want in on *that*? Crazy.

  3. I was shocked to see this actually happen… Its better for Michigan and Ohio State, but another team needs to be added. But this is a good start, still doesn’t fix the issue but, at least they tried a lil.

      • Expensive. Neither has a D1 arena. Penn State needed like $100 million to get off the ground. I think ASU has something less than that but didn’t get a gorgeous arena.

        The real teams to watch are Nebraska and maybe Iowa. I believe Nebraska’s basketball arena can house hockey and I thought a town next to Iowa’s campus was building a D1 sized rink

          • Pretty sure there isn’t a correlation between places a USHL team is and getting a college team. Sioux City has had a team since 1972, Dubuque from 1980 to 2001 and back again in 2010, Cedar Rapids – 1983, Des Moines – 1980, Waterloo – 1962. So essentially these teams have been established for over 30 years. Remind me how college hockey hasn’t caught on at Iowa State or Iowa yet?

          • I would say money, for the most part. Setting up a D1 program from scratch ain’t cheap. Nobody’s come forward with a big wad of cash like Pegula at Penn State. The fact that B1G hockey is just so good right now (/sarc) probably isn’t much of an inspiration for someone to do so, either. I’m just saying that the USHL seems to be saying that there is indeed interest in hockey in the state. Whether that support would be enough to support a D1 program (or two)? We’ll have to wait until someone with more cash than us shows up and decides they want to find out.

        • Nebraska could possibly use the rink that the USHL Lincoln Stars use, which is literally adjacent to campus and across the street from an UNL athletic facility.

        • No offense to those clubs – who are very good programs – but the Big Ten will probably only add teams with some national appeal. Tech & Mankato have small fanbases even for college hockey

          • True but UMDales point is probably correct. Teams at the top of the NCHC are succeeding the in the best (or 2nd best) conference in the sport and locks for high seeds in the NCAA tourney with good attendance/national TV. Why would UND leave that?

            Minnesota and Wisconsin desperately need to get back to playing old time rivals. Tech fits the bill and is probably looking for a new home. Bringing the MacNaughton Cup to the B1G would help give the conference some tradition (and help Tech in a huge way as well via attendance plus TV exposure). It really makes the most sense right now for both sides.

          • The Big 10 would never consider Michigan Tech – it’s simply not in their footprint and what do they bring the table? There is simply no brand recognition there. Sorry if you are a Michigan Tech fan. Notre Dame is a premiere Division 1 Athletic Program with national appeal. Michigan Tech doesn’t have Division 1 Athletics outside of hockey.

          • In those three years they haven’t shared a conference Tech has played ND (who will be B1G soon), Wisconsin, Michigan and Michigan State including a game on the Big Ten Network. They were chosen to play with Minnesota in the Ice Breaker for 2017. They brought more fans to the GLI than Michigan or MSU this year (was there). As long as they don’t let their program go back to the dark days, they bring a lot to any college hockey conference it is in. Tech is college hockey.

          • I appreciate your pride and enthusiasm. But in regards to your point of sharing a conference with Big 10 opponents for 65 years, the same is true for a majority of other CCHA teams that used to share a conference with Big 10 teams too and got left behind in the conference reshuffling. I think your missing my point of the “Big 10 Footprint/Identity” – all Big 10 schools, in addition to competing at the highest levels of athletics, are also research institutions with large endowments. When they reached out to extend an affiliate membership to John Hopkins for lacrose, it was because it was John Hopkkns – a leader on many research fronts! Notre Dame fits a similar bill as this, and once again has s brand name to it. Unfortunately, college hockey is a niche sport, and it’s still about branding and money to extend their audience reach.

      • You’re thinking from purely a pride stand point. But sorry it’s $$$ that drives decisions in college sports. And right now BTN $$$ dwarfs the current NCHC media deal.

      • We don’t make those decisions, and our opinions mean nothing and frankly none of us know what is actually going on. If it means more money for a school and open more opportunities for their other sports programs I am sure a school would. I never thought Notre Dame would, but that changed.

    • St. Cloud and UMD don’t do anything for the Big Ten network, which is all the Big Ten cares about hockey for.

      North Dakota would. I don’t think it’s as crazy an idea as it seems.

          • Everything ebbs and flows though. Not long ago MSU and Wisconsin were competing for national titles. They should bounce back.

          • It’s hard to look past the way the Big10 has hurt the gophers, badgers, and Spartans. Good for the nittany lions though. They have thrived.

          • You can’t pin their struggles on the Big Ten. MSU hired Anastos before the league started. Eaves let his program decay.

          • As an ASU fan I’d be shocked if they dont end up in the Big Ten. Arizonans do not know about small college hockey schools. They want to play Mich, Min, OSU, Wisc, etc. Not to mention the traditional Pac 10-Big 10 connection. The large school connection too. Makes way too much sense for both sides involved. As much as powerwise theyre a WCHA fit for now and aspiration wise they’d like to be NCHC neither provides what the Big 10 can.

          • penn state has a nice new arena and sweet facilities, that is more of the reason why they are doing better. ASU doesn’t have an arena yet, and I don’t know if they are getting one of their own or not.

          • Good point. Similar to what you hear from PSU fans. Most Big Ten fans are ho-hum about playing other Big Ten schools but apparently PSU loves it. If they joined Hockey East (for example), your average PSU fan won’t think much of Lowell or Vermont. I’m sure ASU fans would rather see teams they know from FBS – Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, etc. Makes a lot of sense from ASU’s perspective

          • Exactly most fans out here have no historical knowledge of college hockey. Theyre not alums who went to school with the sport on campus and yearn for the old days. Theyre people the sport is trying to win over. Theyre connection to college sports is CFB and CBB.

          • I am a Penn State fan in Mesa, Arizona so I would
            Love to see ASU in the Big Ten. The school I am watching out for is Boston College. If BC joins the Big 10, it might be a sign that Notre Dame might join for all sports. Why would the Big 10 take them and their Conference winless record in Football and hoops? 1: They are a superior Academic Institution ( great for the CIC). 2: The Boston TV Market. 3: Their Hockey Program. 4: Notre Dame: If ND announced they would join for all sports if they brought fellow Catholic School BC with them as a running mate, they would take BC in a heartbeat. Is it a long shot? Yes but who thought ND would join for Hockey?

          • Wow, do you know anything about the history and dynamic of college hockey in New England? BC will never leave Hockey East and it’s rivalries. The school in NO way fits the BIG’s profile.

          • Yeah because that’s really worked out for them this year. Big Ten can sound them out in Big Ten country thanks to the huge advantage afforded by the NCHC.

    • I can’t imagine it. Why would North Dakota be interested in the Big Ten. The Big Ten schools have made it obvious they don’t even want to schedule UND. Why would UND go into that conference as an inferior member!

  4. I think that answered my tourney location questions. Now that the conference has a Chicagoland team, we can expect the United Center to host the game.

    • Makes a ton of sense… But QU seems to be embedded in ECAC, and they can win there. RIT is a great fit for the ECAC… Matches up with Union. Both have arenas that fit in those leagues.

    • RIT is three times as big as any other AHA school. They now have a as nice of an arena than all of the teams, as well. They stick out like a sore thumb and will surely be the next one out of that conference

    • That’s what I would think and hopefully it sicks there. Quinnipiac seems like the obvious choice for Hockey East and maybe RIT moves up. I don’t want to see people shredding conferences again

    • I don’t see QU going to Hockey East. The Brass in charge like the school in ECAC. Especially with the Yale rivalry down the street.

  5. I was really hoping to get Notre Dame and Arizona State into the new WCHA. It is crazy that Tech at 23-9-5 and a 700 win percentage out of conference got shut out of the NCAA tourney (not even the first team out at that!). I don’t know what Tech does outside of scheduling Denver, North Dakota, Michigan, BC, St Cloud all on the road for non-conference and hope to play .500 to get some bonus points.

    • They could schedule a lot more than that. Let’s see, Minn-Duluth, MIami, NebOmaha, BU, UMLowell, Providence, Notre Dame, etc., etc., etc.

      • I tried to pick teams that were there every year for the better part of a decade. Tech went on the road to East Lansing this year, what would have looked like a pretty daunting task most of my life, but isn’t much now. I get nervous scheduling Providence or UMass-Lowell 3 years from now and have them be 25-30 in the Pairwise which wouldn’t help much. They get a lot of that in the WCHA and it hosed them in the computers.

        Notre Dame obviously as I was hoping they’d be courted by the new WCHA since it realigned. It seemed to fit once they initially rejected the Big Ten and pretty consistent with the CCHA as far as overall quality but they went with Hockey East.

          • In today’s world, the difference between 10 and 25 isn’t that great. Duluth (who Tech has scheduled for 2017) jumped from the bottom of that range to the top with a good second half. Tech actually did the same thing going 12-1-3 in the second half before falling in their tourney semifinal game.

            Not a slam on any of the programs, just that playing in the new WCHA on down years means you need only tourney teams on your non-con schedule.

    • The new WCHA suffers from the same issue as Atlantic Hockey. The top teams in the league may be good, but the dead weight in those conferences inflates their records and holds down their RPI. The WCHA has both Alaska schools and UAH which are all bottom 10 in college hockey.

      • I’d say the new WCHA is better than AH at the top but your point on the bottom being dead weight is true. Adding a Western, Miami or Notre Dame could make it comparable to what the CCHA used to be, four good programs and the rest mostly forgettable.

        A roughly .500 Ferris or NMU doesn’t quite make the grade though in the fourth slot. The conference needs at least one more top tier team.

        • The problem with the Big Ten and NCHC splitting off is that the worst teams of the CCHA and WCHA all ended up in the new WCHA and that’s a lot of deadweight in one league. Tech, Mankato, and BGSU are all good teams but having #51 UAA, #53 UAF, and #56 UAH all in one league is just a lot of deadweight

      • This is completely false. I live in Arizona. Arizona has many proud hockey fans. When the Coyotes made the west finals Jobing Arena was full. The arena is the problem plain and simple. Its in the middle of nowhere. Literally surrounded by cornfields. I live centrally in Phoenix and it takes me at least 30 minutes with zero traffic. Something I dont want to do to see a horrible team. Most fans live on the other side of town too. Try to get 18k to drive over 30min in any non-traditional market it is a tough sell. Even the Cup winning Lighting struggle when theyre not great. ASU sells out thier 1000 seat rink weeks in advance for no name D-3 opponents and sold about 5k for games at Jobing Arena. A likely ASU-Coyotes rink centrally located on public transit will be packed all the the time.

        • Fact is Arizona is last or near last in the NHL in attendance most years. Whatever garbage setup ASU ends up with is not gonna be much better, most likely.

          ASU selling out a 500 (not 1000) seat rink is a ridiculous comparison.

          Most likely solution I’d read about was some kind of Olympic sports center on ASU campus, which if it’s anything like the rest of their sports facilities will be mediocre and poorly located.

          • ASU’s campus is Urban, Central and greatly located on a major highway and transit line and is one of the densest areas in the region. Its where stuff happens very unlike the current arena where literally no one goes unless theres an event. Which is the big problem. Its the same reasont eh Islanders have struggled on Long Island of late. poor team and poor geography.

          • Central to what? Tempe? LOL whatever dude. ASU basketball and football are mediocre, no reason to think hockey will be different.

  6. OT- just bought tix for the regional in Worcester- hideously overpriced at $60- perhaps not if it’s sold out. Also no option for a 2 day ticket- anyone know why?

  7. Does anyone else look at the health of CH on the whole? ND is not a powerhouse hockey school…..but they are a big name. Putting the big schools in one conference is killing CH (at least CH in the Midwest/West), it is so obvious. I say this without regard to any one school. You have to maintain regional rivalries, the Eastern schools/conferences have remained intact and are doing well. UND playing MN, or DU vs WI, or UMD vs MN are all games that ensure strong attendance, strengthens revenues, and makes for highly competitive hockey. The smaller schools need the big schools, the big schools need the historic rivalries……it is this simple. I wonder if the B10 understands this? Someone explain things to me if I am wrong.

    • I said then, and I’ll say it again, for precisely the reason you suggest… The WCHA and CCHA panicked when the Big was announced. Both those conferences AND their regional rivalries EASILY could have remained intact. The loss of just two teams each could have been rectified or evened out with a minor addition or two.

    • Notre Dame is not a powerhouse program but it is consistent program. I would say it is as consistent as St. Cloud or UMD is. If you go back through the past 10 years both st. cloud and notre dame have made the ncaa tournament 7 times, with 1 frozen four appearance for st. cloud and 2 for notre dame; umd has made the tourney 5 times in the same span and 1 title. But the fact is when notre dame starts big 10 play they will give more competition then Ohio State, Penn State, Mich State and probably Wisconsin too, depending on how the new coach can turn the Badgers around. The league still has a lot of work to do though… I wish the would have not created it in the first place though…

  8. Notre Dame was a middle of the pack team in Hockey East as they couldn’t keep up with the studs that have ruled the league ever since they joined. They shouldn’t have joined the league in the first place.

    • They hemmed for a long time then went for what they thought was a bigger payday. Turns out they had no cache with the east teams in hockey (even though their B-ball team does). Players get tired of travel, and its nice to play home&home series every once in a while.

  9. Great add for B1G Hockey. They need to be adding established programs, or getting current members to add the sport. ASU is not the answer. The 8th team doesn’t need to be added with Notre Dame, take time and make sure it’s another good fit.

    • The Big 10 should strive to grow the sport amongst its member schools. That doesnt mean ASU is not a answer for the 8th team. the Pac12-Big 10 have long ties. ASU is a large school and presumably some day leave when they get enough teams for a Pacific conference. Likewise by then the Big 10 will have hopefully grown and not need them. To me seems like a great fit.

  10. Good move, much more viable alternative. Hopefully this spurs a couple more Midwest teams like Northwestern or Indiana to add hockey. 2017 frozen four in Chicago could be a great time to announce all this…

  11. This makes sense… For both. The BIG is starving for another quality program. For ND, travel in their own back yard makes sense. Best of luck to the Irish, thanks for representing HEA with style and class.

  12. Not sure how this helps the ugly helmeted team. Seems like a step down to join that conference. Oh wait….another grab at money…..

        • Still don’t think their prospects in the B1G will be any better, having to play Minnesota and Michigan 4 times a year. I suppose all things being equal, a few less plane rides would be welcome.

      • They were great at the outset and lead HE for some time but couldn’t maintain it down the stretch losing 5 of their last 6 games. I believe ND made the NCAAs because they did well in the pairwise for most of their season. Many in HE were surprised that ND joined the conference in the first place.

  13. This makes some sense. Notre Dame never fit into Hockey East geographically so at least this is a step in the right direction. Not sure who the 8th team would be though. None of the NCHC teams will move right now. Not sure which WCHA team would fit either.

  14. NCHC fans: Put your pride aside and realize if the B1G came knocking on the door of any NCHC school they’d jump in a heart beat. $$$ drives everything in college sports. BTN money/exposure dwarfs the current CBSSN deal.

  15. A question most haven’t asked yet: Does this mean NBCSN is dropping Notre Dame hockey? I can’t imagine Big Ten would want to have one member get national tv rights on a station that competes head-to-head with BTN.

    • Good question. I wonder though, is the ND/NBCSN relationship is just lagniappe from their football deal with NBC? If so, it’s possible that ND will get more TV money from BTN.

  16. I’m really stunned to see so many B1G fans think North Dakota is just waiting to crawl across broken glass to join that conference. There are teams who could benefit from being in B1G but UND isn’t one of them. No one outside the basement dwellers in the NCHC would possibly want to make that jump. The grass really is pretty green over there.

    • I’m stunned to see that anyone thinks that the B1G would even want *anyone* from the NCHC. Hockey aside, none of these schools are really known for much of anything, sports-wise, except for Western and Miami, from the Mid-American Conference. All of the B1G schools are very big deals in a ton of areas, and not just sports. There’s a reason why the only affiliate members in the B1G are Johns Hopkins (lacrosse) and now the Domers. Don’t take this the wrong way, but the B1G just ain’t interested in small fry.

      I’d heard rumors when I was out in Arizona to see Tech play in ASU’s tournament – about ASU and the Domers going to the B1G. These ain’t small fry. Plus, the B1G and the Domers have been dancing around for years about joining forces – it hasn’t happened because the Domers always have wanted to keep the football program independent, and the B1G wouldn’t allow it. However, seeing as how the Domer football program has (sort of) hooked up with the ACC, I wonder if this deal for hockey doesn’t open the door for something bigger a few years down the line?

  17. The Big Ten would never consider North Dakota, or many of the other hockey powers not so much for the name but rather for their academic ranking. I suppose those two things are sort of the same thing to some degree, but either way, the B1G prides itself on being a collection of top schools and would not take an affiliate member that didn’t measure up.

    Notre Dame obviously fits that mold, and so does John Hopkins. I would actually think that the best chance at another affiliate member might actually be RPI. None of the Ivies are going to leave each other, and neither would any of the top-ranked HE schools given their history and rivalries with each other as well as the geographic considerations.

    The geography isn’t ideal for them, but it is better than Massachusetts. From a conference standpoint, B1G is an obvious upgrade in name, money, and competitiveness. They are not necessarily the sexiest competitive pick, but I think in the Big Ten they could improve themselves in pretty short order with the benefits membership would bring them.

    Not saying it’s a slam dunk, but I think they’d make the shortlist. Past that, I think MTU and Miami would be the next two choices. Michigan Tech is a grossly underrated school that actually stacks up pretty nicely in many areas even with Michigan and Michigan State. Up until a few years ago they weren’t in the same conference as Northern, so I doubt they would mind going back to the regular non-conference arrangement they had with them before.

    Miami is an obvious candidate as well, being generally competitive and fitting the geography well, but I think what might hurt Miami is actually the fact that they are mid-major D1 in other sports. It feels a little more odd to associate with a MAC school than a smaller D2 school that is only D1 in hockey, although I doubt that would be a deciding factor if Miami were interested.

    ASU is course a possibility as well, but I think they’d be the last choice of the above. They are a long distance away, something that won’t be lost on any of the Big Ten schools that used to go to Alaska, and I doubt they will get things going as well as Penn State has in the same amount of time. If the others don’t work out though, it is certainly possible.

    Hockey is a revenue or borderline revenue sport for most of the Big Ten, but I don’t see getting the big name for the sake of a big name as being a factor. JHU is a big name for reasons other than sports, but I doubt it makes much of any difference revenue wise for B1G lacrosse. Hockey is similar in that it is more regional in popularity and I don’t think it matters as much as it would like adding a full member how national the school brand is.

    I must say though, if Notre Dame is willing to affiliate with the B1G and the B1G with Notre Dame, I have to wonder if this might be the first crack in their icy relationship in the other sports. ND in the ACC isn’t so dissimilar and if the powers that be in both parties are willing to consider it, maybe this will lead to more in the future if they can figure something out, particularly as cable continues to die and the NBC deal becomes less and less of an issue as the whole model becomes obsolete anyway. Not soon, but perhaps not impossible as once thought.

    • Tech wouldn’t join the B1G, even if asked. They moved back to the WCHA from the CCHA because the travel to the Lower Peninsula and Ohio was *much* worse than to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and eastern North Dakota (they flew to the Colorado schools back in the early 70’s when I was there, and bussed everywhere else – I don’t think they flew at all during their CCHA days).

      • With Minnesota and Wisconsin in the B1G, I think Tech would leap at joining. Trips to Michigan, MSU and Penn State are much easier on the budget than trips to two Alaska schools and Alabama Huntsville. They already go downstate now to play Ferris and Bowling Green is just over the border in Ohio.

        B1G travel is easier than the new WCHA and Mich and MSU both brought 4000+ in attendance to the Mac the past couple years. You’d get good gates, comparable to what Notre Dame draws and what MSU and OSU do right now in down years, with B1G schools in Houghton. Tech has put a lot of work into its arena the past 5 years and it is comparable to facilities at Michigan and Michigan State. Plus national TV exposure and revenues generated from that would be a huge boon to Tech whose athletic department budget is under $5 million.

        • I’m a Tech alum (’74), so I know a bit about travel distances. I lived in the Detroit area when Tech was in the CCHA. You mentioned Ferris and BG, which are the two longest road trips that Tech currently takes by bus (they fly to Alaska and to Huntsville, if I’m not mistaken). I don’t know if the Alaska schools still pay travel expenses for visiting teams like they used to, but if they do they have no effect on Tech’s travel budget. Tech’s *shortest* road trip in the B1G would be to Madison (328), then Mpls (370). Then, you get into the longer ones like MSU (493-farther than Ferris), Notre Dame (511) and Michigan (538). Finally, the coup de grace: OSU (727-way longer than BG) and PSU (930-a whopping 70 miles shorter than Huntsville!). For this, you give up two U.P. rivalries that are only 100 (NMU) and 263 (LSSU) miles away. Bottom line is that they’d still have to fly to PSU, and the longer bus rides everywhere else. The logistics just don’t work. Finally, outside of hockey, Tech has very little to offer to the B1G as a whole.
          At 7K students, they’d also be the B1G’s smallest school by far (ND’s currently the smallest at 12K, NW the smallest full-fledged school at over 20K).

          Sorry, but Tech’s just not a good fit with the B1G, even if all you looked at was the hockey. My suspicion is that Arizona State will end up in the B1G – ASU wants the big name schools (not necessarily big name hockey schools) coming in to boost that program – the casual Phoenix-area sports fan might not recognize a Michigan Tech or even a North Dakota, but they know Michigan, Penn State and Notre Dame.

          • You wouldn’t lose Northern. They’d just go back to playing 2-4 non conference games against them. That is possible in an 8 team league and extra open dates. On top of NMU, Tech could schedule Duluth, St. Cloud, etc with the expanded non-con schedule.

            That to me makes more sense than the absurd geographic footprint of the new WCHA (with c-list schools to boot) and Tech could afford to play some of those games at home. Right now in a down year in the WCHA they win 70% of their games with an above-.500 non-conference record and can’t get in to the tourney. The only way to rectify that would be to do only road non-conference games against the best in the country (and GLI). Hard given expanded WCHA schedule.

  18. As a BU fan who is used to Hockey East home-and-homes and taking the subway to many games(home and away), I have been wondering when traveling east would start to get old for Notre Dame. I didn’t dislike having ND in our league, but geographically, the Irish belong in the CCH.. oops, Big Ten.

  19. To make the B10 whole will require some of the following additions from the old WCHA, in my mind. Add North Dakota, St Cloud St, Michigan Tech and UMD. Notre Dame gets no interest from Western fans. There are already three from the old CCHA in the league. Bringing in another barely puts a bandaid on theblood letting. Furthermore, it is time to scrutinize how the decision was made to add the B10 hockey conference in the first place. Those who tore up the storied WCHA were football guys not from hockey.

  20. Looking through the list of contiguous AAU schools the only ones that would really make sense in addition to Notre Dame are Cornell and Princeton. Will be interesting to see if we can pick up one of them…

  21. After a year playing as an independent, Penn State joined the newly formed Big Ten hockey league in 2013, bringing Minnesota and Wisconsin from the WCHA and Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State from the CCHA.
    That second Penn State should read Ohio State.

  22. I have long argued (3 years!) that a 6 team B1G hockey conference was a detriment to post season play. Notice the conference with 6 (count em, 6!) NCAA berths (out of 16). Strong teams, but they only play each other twice. Hard to sweep 4 games from any opponent to stay high in the rankings. ND makes sense, as does UN-O (Parent school, Nebraska is in the B1G).

  23. ASU to the B1G makes as much sense as ND in Hockey East. ND already has history with three of the B1G from the CCHA. UIC used to have a program, so maybe Illinois can muster some support to elevate their club team. U Nebraska Omaha could “come home” to the B1G as well. Indiana and Purdue also have decent club programs.

  24. Keep in mind that there are a lot of snowbirds from the Midwest living in Arizona during the winter months. It really isn’t that much of a stretch to think ASU could join the Big Ten.


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