CCHA, WCHA talk merger (08-03-11)
Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 07:48
Discussions regarding a merger of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association were held Tuesday in Chicago.
|Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron and school officials are keeping their league options open for the 2013-14 season. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Representatives of the two leagues met for "exploratory talks" about a merged 10-team league, CCHA commissioner Fred Pletsch said Tuesday.
Pletsch said the league commissioners will go back to their respective athletic directors to determine if further talks will take place.
Bowling Green was represented at the meeting by Jim Elsasser, associate athletics director for internal affairs.
The 11-team CCHA already has lost five members in the last five months during its sport's realignment, while the 12-team WCHA has lost seven members during the same time span.
All of the realignment becomes effective after the 2012-13 season.
Most likely, a merged league from the CCHA and the WCHA would consist of BG, Ferris State, Lake Superior and Alaska (Fairbanks) of the CCHA; and Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State (Mankato), Northern Michigan and St. Cloud.
Northern recently left the CCHA for the WCHA, also effective after the 2012-13 season.
BG still is exploring its options for league membership starting with the 2013-14 season. University officials already have had discussions with the WCHA, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and four members of the Atlantic Hockey Association.
Jason Knavel, BG's assistant athletics director for athletic communications, said Tuesday the school has not made any decision in regards to what league it will join and no options have been ruled out.
The other remaining CCHA schools are Notre Dame and Western Michigan.
But Notre Dame is not expected to remain in the CCHA once all of the realignment is complete. The Fighting Irish are considering a move to the fledgling NCHC or Hockey East, or scrapping league membership entirely and playing as an independent.
ND will inform the CCHA of its decision at the league's annual summer meetings Aug. 15-16 in Dearborn, Mich., ND associate media relations director Tim Connor said.
Once the Fighting Irish announce their decision, the rest of college hockey's realignment is expected to be completed quickly.
Western AD Kathy Beauregard has said all along her school would like to follow ND to whatever league it joins, if the Fighting Irish decide to join a league.
"In our conversations with Notre Dame, they have been waiting for some television information," Beauregard told the Kalamazoo Gazette about ND's decision not to announce its decision so far.
One rumored proposal has the newly-formed Versus/NBC partnership airing college hockey games, including those from the NCHC.
The NCHC currently has six teams and is expected to finish with eight. The NCHC consists of Miami of the CCHA; and Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota of the WCHA.
Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State are leaving the CCHA to join the Big Ten hockey conference, along with WCHA members Minnesota and Wisconsin. Penn State completes the Big Ten hockey conference.
WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod is going to visit Alaska (Fairbanks) later this month to learn more about the school and its hockey program, The (Fairbanks) Daily News-Miner reported. But McLeod's visit is no guarantee Alaska will be invited to join the WCHA, the News-Miner reported.
Last week, officials from the CCHA met with four members of the Atlantic Hockey Association to discuss the possibility of those four teams joining the CCHA.
The AHA schools are Canisius, Mercyhurst, Niagara and Robert Morris, and they agreed to continue the dialogue with the CCHA.
U.S. College Hockey Online (www.uscho.com) reported the CCHA has given its remaining schools a Sept. 30 deadline to declare their intention to leave their present league. USCHO also reported the four AHA schools will reassess the makeup of the CCHA after Sept. 30 before making decisions on whether to join the league.
Eight or 10 schools in a league is considered ideal because it means all schools will be able to play during a weekend of league play.
Seven schools can be made to work, but makes scheduling difficult because of the odd number.
Six schools leaves a league vulnerable if it loses a member because a league needs at least six members to receive an automatic berth to the NCAA playoffs.
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 August 2011 16:08