NCHC: Staying At 8; Sets Stage for Notre Dame to Hockey East
CHN Staff Report
The fledgling National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) released a statement today, declaring its intention to begin its inaugural season of 2013-14 with eight teams.
Though not mentioning Notre Dame by name, the release, by implication, means — if the conference hiearchy remains firm — that Notre Dame will join Hockey East.
According to multiple sources, Notre Dame is expected to formally announce that decision Wednesday.
As previously reported by College Hockey News, Notre Dame was down to Hockey East or the NCHC, and was looking to see which conference would best accomodate its own television package. Essentially, after finally negotiating their deal, it was down to the conferences to say what it would accept. There were also apparently last-minute negotiations to see if Notre Dame and the NCHC could come to an arrangement, owing to Notre Dame's slight preference to play in the NCHC.
“We are very confident with our decision and excited to move forward as a strong eight-team conference,” said Brian Faison, North Dakota athletic director and the spokesperson for the Conference’s Athletic Directors Committee. “As we have stated many times, it is our goal to establish the National Collegiate Hockey Conference as the premier conference in men’s hockey and there’s no question in our minds that we are well positioned to do so with our membership. We conducted a deliberate and exhaustive process that included consideration of adding more institutions. In the end, we determined it is in the best interest of the Conference to proceed with our eight outstanding programs.”
The announcement by the NCHC short-circuits Notre Dame's decision-making process.
The NCHC made an initial announcement to have six schools, then added two more recently, to come to eight. It had been waiting for Notre Dame to make a decision as well.
Notre Dame officials could not be reached for comment. Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna declined to comment.