Recap: Ice Hockey Committee Meetings
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
Tweaks to the NCAA tournament selection criteria and the selection of additional tournament regional sites were foremost on the agenda at the NCAA men's ice hockey committee meetings, which concluded last week in San Francisco.
In addition, College Hockey America was officially granted the sixth automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.
Given that, and the MAAC's acceptance two years ago, almost all of the potential changes to the selection criteria focused on how to make them more equitable given the wider differences in the overall strengths of the six Division I conferences.
"We looked very closely at the selection criteria," said Ian McCaw, athletic director at Northeastern and incoming committee chair.
There were four areas of focus:
- Changing the 35-50-15 RPI breakdown back to 25-50-25. Currently, the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), a key component of the selection criteria, is calculated by weighing a team's winning percentage 35 percent, its opponent's winning percentage 50 percent, and its opponents opponent's winning percentage 15 percent. This was changed from 25-50-25 a number of years ago in order to give less weight to strength of schedule, which somewhat benefitted dominant teams from weaker conferences.
- Changing the definition of a team under consideration (TUC) from one with a .500 or better winning percentage, to one with a .500 or better RPI. This would bring some weaker teams from stronger conferences into the mix, and knock out decent teams from weaker conferences.
- Potentially factoring strength of schedule into the "Record in Last 16 Games" criteria. "It's a piece of criteria we want to evaluate closely," McCaw said. "We talked about everything from removing it, to adjusting it, to leaving it alone."
- Creating a bonus system tied to RPI, similar to basketball's loosely defined criteria. For example, giving more weight to a quality win on the road, or a bad loss at home.
"We don't have a final product," said McCaw. "We did spend a lot of time discussing it."
McCaw said there would a conference call next week to further discuss the issues.
The NCAA's Executive Committee is expected to rubber stamp the expansion of the NCAA men's hockey tournament to 16 teams when it convenes in August.
To prepare for that, the ice hockey committee chose two additional regional sites, one in the West and one in the East, for each of the next two years.
"We made tentative decisions, pending approval [of expansion]," McCaw said. "Obviously, we feel very good about it, but that's the final hurdle."
McCaw said the sites of the extra regionals will not be disclosed until given approval by the NCAA Championships and Competition Cabinet, which meets June 25-27.
"In the past, word has leaked out before the cabinet has approved [the cities], which puts them in a difficult position," McCaw said.
Six Eastern sites — Providence, R.I.; Manchester, N.H.; Lake Placid, N.Y.; Rochester, N.Y.; Bridgeport, Conn.; and Lowell, Mass. — were known to have applied, along with six Western sites — Green Bay, Wis.; Madison, Wis.; Minneapolis; St. Cloud, Minn.; Grand Forks, N.D.; and Grand Rapids, Mich.
The controversial "regionalization" requirements imposed upon the ice hockey committee by the NCAA's Championships and Competition Cabinet were discussed in the San Francisco meetings, but not much can be done until the cabinet decides whether to continue the policy.
"It's part of [the cabinet's] June agenda," said McCaw. "Whether they come up with a decision then or wait until the September meeting, that will have significant impact on what we do. We really won't know until we get word from the cabinet whether we'll have exactly what we had a year ago, it's wide open, or somewhere in the middle."
McCaw said this year's NCAA tournament netted in excess of $1 million and had the highest ever television ratings. ...
The tournament selection show will return to ESPN2 next season, at 5:30 p.m. the Sunday before the start of the tournament. The committee has also been discussing a Frozen Four preview show with ESPN officials. "Coming off the ratings we had, they're very excited about the property," McCaw said. ...
Ron Mason replaced Buddy Powers as the CCHA representative on the committee, and was in attendance in San Francisco. Mason recently stepped down as coach at Michigan State to become the school's athletic director. Powers was fired in April as head coach at Bowling Green. ...
Tim Dillon, athletic director at Canisius, was added to the committee, as of Sept. 1 as the MAAC representative. He replaces outgoing chair Jack McDonald, the athletic director at Quinnipiac. ...
The committee reprimanded the University of Maine and defenseman Peter Metcalf for Metcalf's comments in the postgame press conference following the Black Bears' loss to Minnesota in last April's national championship game. Metcalf was critical of referee Steve Piotrowski in the aftermath of his penalty call against Maine in overtime which led to the Gophers' game-winning power-play goal. ...
For the first time, all the relevant hockey committees — the joint men's and women's rules committee, the women's ice hockey committee, and the organization of conference commissioners — met during the same week in the same location. This gave all the groups a chance to meet and discuss what each was doing, and share ideas.