It looks like those Tuesday meetings were as productive as Bruce McLeod hinted.
The WCHA invited five Central Collegiate Hockey Association schools to join the league beginning with the 2013-14 season. They are: Alaska-Fairbanks, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State and Western Michigan.
The WCHA set a 30-day response deadline for acceptance.
Expect four to sign on pretty quickly while Western Michigan may wait to see what Notre Dame decides.
College Hockey News broke the story earlier today, forcing the WCHA and CCHA to release a joint statement at 2:10 p.m. Mountain.
As of now, the WCHA following the 2012-13 season will be Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State-Mankato, St. Cloud State and Northern Michigan, which accepted an offer to join the WCHA beginning in 2013-14 back on July 20.
Adding the five schools would make an 11-team league. If Western Michigan joins the NCHC as often reported, that would drop the new WCHA to a manageable 10 teams.
Since the WCHA said it is still considering adding members beyond the five CCHA schools left (besides Notre Dame) the four Atlantic Hockey Association schools the CCHA talked to last month — Canisius, Mercyhurst, Niagara, Robert Morris — remain a possibility as well. And lest we forget, what about Alabama-Huntsville?
Here’s more from the press release …
“On behalf of those presidents who remain committed to the WCHA in 2013-14 and beyond, I am excited to announce that we have unanimously voted to invite these five CCHA members to join our conference,” said MSU-Mankato president Richard Davenport. “These schools bring a proud history and tradition with them from the CCHA that will only serve to enhance the already strong reputation of the WCHA.
“We are committed to creating stability for the conference and believe by inviting these institutions we will create one of the strongest conferences in the nation,” he added. “This is one of the main reasons presidents voted today to invite CCHA member institutions to join our conference. Also, as presidents, we are committed to providing the best college hockey opportunities in the country for our student-athletes.”
“This is truly a significant and quite remarkable twist in what has been a period of great consternation and transition in the college hockey world,” said WCHA Commissioner Bruce M. McLeod. “On behalf of the WCHA, we couldn’t be more excited and pleased to extend these invitations to Alaska-Fairbanks, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State and Western Michigan.”
The WCHA and CCHA held a joint meeting in Chicago earlier this week, working from an agenda that included the sharing of institutional and hockey program information (including financial, facilities, community support, staffing and travel), scheduling and championship scenarios, and membership and league affiliation (including league size, automatic qualifiers, etc).
“During what were very informative and productive meetings in Chicago, and as we worked our way through the agenda, it became clear that all of these great institutions share a commonality in that every one of them is 100% committed to the sport of collegiate ice hockey,” said McLeod, “and that they also share a great deal philosophically both athletically and academically. From there, the idea of coming together was a natural progression.”
“This invitation represents a tremendous opportunity for the remaining members of both leagues,” said CCHA Commissioner Fred Pletsch. “Their collective commitment to Division I hockey was evident in Chicago and the synergy created by last Tuesday’s meeting will help all involved chart a course that is right for their respective program and provide further stability to college hockey’s evolving landscape.”
The WCHA and CCHA have also agreed to continue to hold regular talks to address such topics as by-laws, scheduling, tournament scenarios, finances and additional membership.