Arizona State Withdraws From WCHA Talks
After months of talks with the WCHA, Arizona State has winthdrawn itself from consideration for joining the conference, College Hockey News has learned. Arizona State informed the WCHA of its decision Wednesday morning.
After being initially spurned in efforts to join the NCHC last year, Arizona State turned to the WCHA as a possible partner. Arizona State has played as an independent in its first two seasons since becoming a Division I varsity team.
WCHA officials could not be reached for comment.
According to sources, the biggest factor in the talks was the nature of subsidies Arizona State would make to the WCHA and its teams, particularly in regards to travel compensation. One of the biggest factors for walking away from the deal was Arizona State's belief that the WCHA was asking for too much, and it was being leveraged because it's a large school that could theoretically afford it.
The two Alaska schools currently pay a subsidy for travel to the other WCHA teams.
"Instead of forking money over each year, (Arizona State) can invest in its program and recruits and schedule," a source told CHN.
Two other factors were cited in Arizona State's decision:
- the Sun Devils believe they are scheduling a lot of good games against quality opponents, both home and away, and don't want their strength of schedule to take a hit.
- the instability of the conferences right now, with a few at an odd number, gives Arizona State scheduling opportunities for those weekends one team is off. Also, there may be more conference realignment in the future as a result, and it's better to see that shake out first.
That said, in a perfect world, Arizona State would like to be in a conference. If the financial terms were different, that may have happened here.
"(Arizona State does) see the importance in joining a conference," the source said.
Meanwhile, work continues to try to get a new arena built on campus, with the potential for something to be finalized within a year. Sources indicate that ASU is trying to develop a facility that would be home to multiple teams in its athletic program, not just hockey, to make it more cost effective.
The idea of an arena in conjunction with the Arizona Coyotes is dead, especially with the NHL team's recent sale to new owners. However, the relationship continues, with the Sun Devils continuing to play some home games at the NHL arena in Glendale for the forseeable future.
Arizona State is still believed to be open to discussing things with the WCHA again in the future, if cirumstances change.