No Conference Realignment Imminent
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
A recent Denver Post blog posting set off speculation that a realigning of conferences was imminent, as the four remaining College Hockey America schools look for new homes.
According to several sources, this is not true.
College Hockey News has closely followed the fate of the CHA for years — as its size dwindled to five, then four, teams, leaving its NCAA automatic bid in serious jeopardy — and numerous "solutions" have been proposed, speculated upon, and reached the conversation stage. But while the remaining schools — Niagara, Bemidji State, Robert Morris and Alabama-Huntsville — do face major concerns about their viability, no solution is close yet.
The blog posting, by Denver Pioneers beat writer Mike Chambers, suggested that Bemidji State would join the WCHA, along with Nebraska-Omaha, which would move from the CCHA. This would open the door for UAH to join the CCHA. Meanwhile, Robert Morris and Niagara would join Atlantic Hockey.
The latter is most likely to happen. The only drawback from that ever happening was that Atlantic Hockey restricts scholarships below the NCAA maximum of 18, and that was not something Niagara was interested in. But faced with the current dilemma, it's something it is more open to.
If it came right down to it, Atlantic Hockey would assuredly welcome those two schools.
But the WCHA has shown no signs of expanding, and its moratorium remains firmly in place. The league did recently approve a "scheduling arrangement" with Bemidji State, to help that program remain viable as it heads towards a new arena, but nothing more has been discussed.
In addition, the blog posting says that the commissioner's group has discussed this exact plan. A number of commissioners, however, denied that this has ever been discussed.
As for the CCHA, the idea of losing Nebraska-Omaha is not something palatable to them.
"Absolutely not," said CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos, who added that all the positives about UNO joining the CCHA originally, still hold true today.
Further, said Anastos, UAH has never applied for entrance into the CCHA, though he suspects they might.
No magic wand is available. Moving any team out of one conference and into another, requires the approval of that school, plus the athletic directors/presidents of all the schools in the conference that would be adding the team — with each of these forces looking out for their own interests.
That is why "conference realignment," for as much as third parties may see the universal benefits of one plan or another, has never been able to get beyond much more than "wishful thinking" and pure speculation.