CCHA, WCHA Discuss Merger
CHN Staff Report
Officials from the CCHA and WCHA met in Chicago on Tuesday to hold "exploratory talks" about a possible merger between the two leagues, the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune reported, quoting CCHA commissioner Fred Pletsch.
According to the report, the league commissioners will have discussions with the athletic directors from the respective schools to see if further talks are warranted.
Both leagues are facing dwindling membership once a series of announced changes kick in, in 2013-14. The WCHA will go from 12 to 6 teams, and the CCHA will go from 11 to as few as 4 or 3, depending on what Alaska decides to do.
Consequently, the CCHA is facing a bigger sense of urgency, since six teams is the minimum required to receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The CCHA recently had discussions, as well, with four Atlantic Hockey schools — Canisius, Mercyhurst, Robert Morris and Niagara — about the possibility of them switching leagues. Those discussions continue. USCHO.com reported that the AHA schools were given a Sept. 30 deadline by the CCHA to announce their intentions, but it will hinge upon a variety of factors still to be worked through by the CCHA itself.
Technically, the CCHA is still at 6 teams as of 2013-14, but Notre Dame and Western Michigan are soon expected to announce their decisions to leave as well. Notre Dame is exploring whether to join the newly-formed NCHC, or go to Hockey East. That decision hinges mainly on where it can get the most television exposure, something the schools is still working through. Western Michigan has already stated its preference to go wherever Notre Dame winds up.
That would leave the CCHA with Alaska, Lake Superior State, Ferris State and Bowling Green. Alaska is having internal discussions on whether to pursue a move to the WCHA, to join in-state rival Alaska-Anchorage, though such a move is filled with hurdles. WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod is also expected to go to Fairbanks to discuss a possible move.
If that happens, Bowling Green would be the only across-the-board Division I team remaining in the CCHA. Current CCHA members Miami and Western Michigan are in the Mid-America Conference in most other sports with Bowling Green, but have separately gone their own way from BGSU when it comes to hockey.