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Report: WCHA’s breakup imminent

July 8, 2011
The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - Multiple news outlets in the college hockey world are reporting that five more schools will leave the Western Collegiate Hockey Association to form a new Division I league.

The Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald reported and others confirmed that Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota will bolt the league and join Miami (Ohio) of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, starting in the 2013-14 season.

An announcement of the move is expected Wednesday.

The move comes on the heels of the announcement that Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State will leave their respective leagues the same year and join a startup Penn State program in a Big 10 hockey league.

Two other schools rumored to be included in the situation, Notre Dame and Western Michigan, have not been confirmed as part of the new cohort. Notre Dame, in particular, is believed to be exploring membership in Hockey East, where it would compete with many similar Catholic-affiliated institutions.

The WCHA, which was founded in 1959, would be left with five members under this scenario, Michigan Tech, St. Cloud State, Minnesota State, Bemidji State and Alaska-Anchorage, which is not enough to receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. At least five remaining teams would also exist in the CCHA. Northern Michigan, Lake Superior State, Bowling Green, Ferris State and Alaska (Fairbanks) do not appear to be a part of the new league discussions.

Michigan Tech sports information director Wes Frahm said the school would not discuss any future plans until an official announcement comes from the WCHA.

"The landscape of college hockey is obviously undergoing some changes, but Michigan Tech is committed to being successful no matter who our opponents are," he said.

It's clear that there already some hard feelings.

UAA athletic director Steve Cobb told the Anchorage Daily News that the league voted unanimously to extend an invitation to Miami and Notre Dame to fill the gap left by the Big 10 schools. He believes organizers of this new league then decided to recruit the teams themselves.

"I blame everybody for being less than honest with their own league members," he said. "It's a really sneaky back-door deal."

Cobb said a CCHA-WCHA merger could happen but that "selling two trips to Alaska in one year" was "tough."

"I'm not offended at all they want to start a conference. I'm very offended at the way it was handled," Cobb said. "We've got two years left, and I assume it's going to be very tense and very uncomfortable."



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