July 9, 2011
The sources proved correct. All six schools, including Colorado College, confirmed in a joint press release Saturday morning that they will be founding members of a new hockey conference, as previously reported.
“We are pleased to announce that six top NCAA Division I ice hockey programs will become founding members of a newly formed hockey conference, which will begin competition for the 2013-14 season,” according to a press release sent out by the Denver sports information department.
The six schools are CC, Denver, Miami (Ohio), Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota as first reported by the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald.
The release also confirmed there will be a press conference Wednesday in Colorado Springs. Details about that event will be released in the next few days.
The statement, released at 11 a.m. Mountain, also said no further comments from the schools will be made before Wednesday.
According to league sources, two other Central Collegiate Hockey Association schools, Notre Dame and Western Michigan, in addition to Miami, could join the new conference later this summer.
The new league, expected to open play in 2013, hopes to rival the new Big Ten league which also starts then. Minnesota and Wisconsin of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State of the CCHA announced they will leave their conferences after Penn State received an $88 million donation to start a varsity program. That gave the Big Ten hockey schools the six required for an automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
The move leaves only Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, MSU-Mankato and St. Cloud State in the WCHA and possibly only Alaska-Fairbanks, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan in the CCHA.
Those five WCHA athletic directors and league officials will meet next week in Minnesota to review their options, which likely includes a merger with the CCHA, which holds its league meeting in August.
If one or both Notre Dame or Western Michigan does not to join the new conference, you can count St. Cloud State out. School president Earl H. Potter III said Friday that his school would not consider joining the new league, even if asked.