WMU, St. Cloud to Join NCHC
CHN Staff Report
Western Michigan and St. Cloud State will be added to the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) by the end of the week, the Grand Forks Herald is reporting.
It's the latest in a series of moves that will re-formulate the college hockey landscape as of 2013-14. The moves started with the announced formation of the Big Ten Hockey Conference, then the formation of the NCHC, followed by other shifts of the remaining CCHA and WCHA schools.
WMU and St. Cloud State will join North Dakota, Denver, Colorado College, Nebraska-Omaha, Minnesota-Duluth and Miami in the NCHC. They weren't initially invited, while the league awaited a decision from Notre Dame, which also has an invitation. But with Notre Dame's decision delayed, the NCHC has reached out to Western Michigan and St. Cloud State to reach eight teams.
Western Michigan, along with Bowling Green, are sitting on invitations from the WCHA, and had until this week to give the WCHA an answer. They were invited last month in a package that included all of the other remaining CCHA schools. Northern Michigan, Lake Superior, Ferris State and Alaska have already accepted those invitations.
Bowling Green, it seems, would now accept the WCHA's invite as well, leaving the new WCHA with nine teams in 2013-14. Of those nine, just four will be from the current 12-team structure — Alaska-Anchorage, Michigan Tech, MSU-Mankato and Bemidji State. Six more will leave for the NCHC, and Minnesota and Wisconsin will depart for the Big Ten.
It is still possible that some Atlantic Hockey schools could be invited to the new-look WCHA. Niagara, Robert Morris, Canisius and Mercyhurst were working on possibly moving together to the CCHA, but when some CCHA decided they'd rather go to the WCHA, that possibility fell apart. Those four Atlantic schools, in varying degrees, may still be looking to move so that they can play with a full allotment of 18 scholarships, compared to the 12 they are currently limited to in Atlantic Hockey.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, has been investigating for months now which conference it wanted to join. That decision was further affected by the recent decision of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to leave the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference. Notre Dame is in the Big East for all of its other sports except football, but now may be looking for a new all-sport conference, a decision that may or may not impact its hockey decision.
According to the Herald, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick told a radio station over the weekend that his school will make a decision within 10 days.