WCHA, CCHA Meetings 'Productive'
CHN Staff Report
Members of the WCHA and CCHA released a statement following a meeting today held in Chicago, calling the gathering "productive," but without any commitments either way.
The conferences were working from an agenda that included sharing information about each other, engaging in productive discussions about the challenges that each institution and each conference face, and seeking common ground to work together for the betterment of the parties involved and of college hockey in general.
“This was an important and productive meeting, for all involved parties," the parties said in the statement. "We asked everyone in attendance to be open, honest and frank in discussing their concerns, hopes and visions for the future of their respective programs. We recognize that where there is change there is also opportunity. We plan to continue our discussions in the future and to continue to explore all options.
“One crucial thing that came out of the joint meeting today was the word ‘commitment’. All of these institutions are totally committed to fielding the most competitive and successful programs possible and to provide the best possible experience for their student-athletes.”
Topics discussed in the joint meeting agenda included sharing of institutional and hockey program information (including financial, facilities, community support, staffing and travel), scheduling and championship scenarios, and membership and league affiliation (including league size, automatic qualifiers, etc).
In attendance at the joint meeting were administrators from Alaska-Anchorage, Alaska-Fairbanks, Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State, Northern Michigan, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan.
Noticably absent from the proceedings was any representative from Notre Dame. It all but confirmed the already foregone conclusion that Notre Dame will be leaving the CCHA. The hockey world has been awaiting a decision from Notre Dame on whether it wants to accept invitations from the new NCHC or Hockey East.
The schools that attended the meeting are the others that remain in the two conferences following the changes that will activate in 2013-14. Those changes include the formation of the Big Ten hockey conference — which takes Minnesota and Wisconsin from the WCHA, and Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State from the CCHA — and the formation of the NCHC — which takes Miami from the CCHA, and Denver, Colorado College, Minnesota-Duluth, North Dakota and Nebraska-Omaha from the WCHA.
Those changes would have left the WCHA with five schools and the CCHA with seven, but Notre Dame is not expected back, and Western Michigan is expected to try to go with Notre Dame wherever that is. That would leave five in each conference, and six is the minimum required to receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
To get the WCHA to six, Northern Michigan has already announced it will go to the WCHA in 2013-14 — which leaves just four CCHA teams. In order to re-stabilize the CCHA, there were talks for four Atlantic Hockey schools — Niagara, Robert Morris, Mercyhurst and Canisius — to switch over, but a WCHA/CCHA "merger" is another option.
It is believed that Alaska and Lake Superior State would prefer to leave the CCHA for the WCHA, which would leave only Ferris State and Bowling Green as bona fide CCHA teams. However, at that point, even bringing in four Atlantic Hockey schools would leave the CCHA with a precarious six schools.
Consequently, Atlantic Hockey schools are balking at that possibility, and "merger" talks become more viable. It's also possible Bowling Green will look to join Western Michigan and Miami in the NCHC. Those three schools are all part of the Mid-America Conference in all other sports.