Atlantic Teams, CCHA Hold Meetings in Erie
CHN Staff Report
Representatives of four Atlantic Hockey schools met with CCHA commissioner Fred Pletsch and members of the league's executive board in Erie, Pa., today to explore the possibility of changing conferences. Canisius, Mercyhurst, Niagara and Robert Morris were represented.
“We had a very frank and open discussion with Commissioner Pletsch and members of his executive committee about joining the CCHA," the Atlantic Hockey schools said in a collective statement. "The CCHA offers several exciting opportunities for our institutions, however each of us feels the need to bring the information we discussed back to campus and discuss it with our school president and our hockey staff. In addition, we will need to have discussions with Atlantic Hockey commissioner Bob DeGregorio and his executive committee. Once we have completed our due diligence, we have agreed to meet at a future date to continue to explore our opportunities. At this point in time, no decisions have been made about leaving Atlantic Hockey or joining the CCHA.”
Pletsch echosed those sentiments.
“We had very open and honest discussions with representatives of the four schools from the AHA,” Pletsch said. “And we are committed to having further dialogue in the future to potentially accommodate those schools, while representing the interests of our member schools that are committed to staying in the CCHA for the 2013-14 season and beyond.”
Canisius and Mercyhurst have been members of Atlantic Hockey since its inception in 2003, while Niagara and Robert Morris joined the league prior to the 2010-11 season. The CCHA is exploring expansion after losing members to the Big Ten Conference, National Collegiate Hockey Conference and the WCHA.
The moves are all set to take place in 2013-14, including Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan to the Big Ten; Miami to the NCHC; and Northern Michigan to the WCHA. That would leave the CCHA with six schools, although three more could also soon be announcing moves elsewhere — Notre Dame, Western Michigan, Alaska.
That would leave the CCHA with just three teams — Ferris State, Lake Superior State and Bowling Green — not enough for a viable league, and not enough for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Meanwhile, the Atlantic Hockey schools are all looking at the possibility of playing in a conference that allows them to award 18 scholarships. Atlantic Hockey currently limits those schools to 12.
Canisius Athletic Director Bill Maher and Associate Athletic Director John Maddock, Mercyhurst Athletic Director Joe Kimball and Senior Associate Athletic Director Aaron Kemp, Niagara Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin and Robert Morris Athletic Director Craig Coleman were all included in the meeting, representing their respective schools.