BG still mulling options (08-12-11)
Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor
Friday, 12 August 2011 08:56
Bowling Green's keeping all of its options open for future league membership involving the Falcon hockey team.
|File Photo: BGSU's Director of Athletics Greg Christopher speaks to the media. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
The Falcons will remain in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association for two more seasons, but their home after that hasn't been decided.
The 11-team CCHA already has lost five schools during college hockey's summer of realignment, and could lose as many as three more before the realignment is completed.
That would leave BG as one of three CCHA schools looking to form a new league.
Future realignment options for BG are a possible merger of the CCHA and WCHA leftovers, joining the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, or continuing as a member of the CCHA which would include new members.
The CCHA recently held discussions with representatives of four Atlantic Hockey Association schools - Canisius, Mercyhurst, Niagara and Robert Morris - about the possibility of those schools joining the CCHA leftovers.
All of the realignment takes affect have the 2012-13 season.
"We want to try keep all three options open for as long as we can, so we can make the best decision," BG athletics director Greg Christopher said. "We may not have all three options at the end of the day, but, again, we're trying to explore all of our options."
The rest of the realignment is expected to fall into place quickly once CCHA member Notre Dame announces its plans Monday or Tuesday at the league's annual summer meetings in Dearborn, Mich.
Notre Dame is mulling an offer to join Hockey East or the NCHC, which was formed by CCHA member Miami, and five WCHA schools - Colorado College, Denver, defending NCAA champion Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota.
The NCHC reportedly will add at least two more teams.
ND also could skip league play entirely and play as an independent. Regardless of what the Fighting Irish decide, they are not expected to remain in the CCHA.
Western Michigan, also of the CCHA, has said it would like to follow Notre Dame to whatever league it joins.
WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that Notre Dame and Western Michigan could be included in a CCHA-WCHA merger.
"Notre Dame holds a lot of collateral in all this," Christopher said. "At the end of the day, which direction Notre Dame goes may dictate some other decisions, whether it's for us or some of the other schools."
Christopher said the CCHA-WCHA merger option "gets discussed the most." The two leagues met Aug. 2 and are will meet again Aug. 23.
"We are exploring all three options. We are talking with all three," Christopher said.
BG and CCHA member Alaska (Fairbanks) also have discussed possible membership with the WCHA as individual schools.
The CCHA and the four Atlantic Hockey schools also are expected to talk again.
Christopher said a time line for BG's decision and the rest of college hockey's realignment to be completed "is hard to predict. It might be the next month. I don't think it stretches out more than the next three to four months."
Notre Dame's decision may come down to money and television ratings.
Versus, which will be rebranded as NBC Sports Network early next year, is believed to be close to an agreement to televise college hockey next season. The agreement could include games from all five leagues.
If that's the case, Notre Dame could be headed to Hockey East, which includes the Boston market.
NBC already televises Notre Dame's home football games and is rumored to be considering moving some of those games to its NBC Sports Network.
If Notre Dame and Western Michigan leave the CCHA, the CCHA's remaining schools would be BG, Alaska, Ferris State and Lake Superior. A league needs at least six teams to maintain an automatic to the NCAA playoffs.
The remaining WCHA schools are Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State (Mankato) and St. Cloud.
The WCHA also lost Minnesota and Wisconsin to the Big Ten, but added CCHA member Northern Michigan.
"We haven't decided, the WCHA as an entity, whether we're approaching this thing kind of from a (perspective of) adding one team at a time, or whatever, and trying to get the best fits that way," McLeod told the News-Miner.
"There's a sense I have from the CCHA people that they want to approach this more from a group type of merger thing. The first question they asked me is 'How are you approaching this, Bruce?' Obviously, I told them we don't have a single approach right now, it's kind of ... the thing where we kind of work our way through it."
One concern WCHA schools have about adding Fairbanks is making two trips to Alaska each season. One solution could be to limit schools to one trip to Alaska each season.
"We had a good discussion with the CCHA, agreed to some common ground and talked about some things that could be on the table when we get the whole group together to meet in the future," McLeod told the News-Miner. "I wouldn't read too much into the (Aug. 2) meeting one way or another. It was good and positive and we have a lot of hurdles to overcome.
"It always gets back to do we worry about ourselves and get back to eight (WCHA) members or do we think of the greater good of college hockey? More than anything, we're just trying to keep as nimble as we can possibly be. Gradually, we'll get ourselves to making a decision."
Alabama-Huntsville, the only Division I independent, also is looking to join a league.
Last Updated on Monday, 15 August 2011 21:19