Athletics & Recreation / News

DU to join National Collegiate Hockey Conference

Six of the nation’s top NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey programs have become founding members of the newly formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference, which will begin competition for the 2013–14 season, the programs’ athletic directors and head coaches announced today at historic Penrose House in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference founding members are Colorado College, University of Denver, Miami University, University of Minnesota-Duluth, University of Nebraska-Omaha and University of North Dakota.

“We recognized the need to keep our premier athletics program at the forefront of college hockey with the formation of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference,” DU Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation Peg Bradley-Doppes says. “The other five schools have demonstrated a historical commitment to championship-level hockey and value excellence in the classroom as well. The schools in this conference will compete for national championships annually, and the support for hockey at these schools is tremendous.”

Dating back to the year 2000, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference boasts four NCAA national champions, 14 NCAA Frozen Four appearances, 12 conference regular-season championships and nine conference tournament championships. All six founding members were participants in the NCAA Ice Hockey Championship tournament in 2011.

“The common thread among all institutions is a commitment to maintain a high-quality level of college hockey,” said DU head coach George Gwozdecky. “The conference will provide a known structure and framework in the foreseeable future, which each institution can use as stability moving forward in these challenging times with our sport. The conference realignment started to happen this past spring. We believe this provided an opportunity to assess the landscape and make decisions for what’s in the best interest of each institution and college hockey as a whole.”

Five of the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s schools — 2011 NCAA Division I ice hockey national champion Minnesota-Duluth, Colorado College, DU, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota — currently are members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.  Miami competes in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. All six schools will continue playing in their current conferences through the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons.

“We are thrilled to join the National Collegiate Hockey Conference with these five schools,” Gwozdecky added. “Our fans should be really excited knowing these five schools will be coming to Magness Arena annually for two-game series. We’d like to thank Bruce McLeod and the WCHA for over 50 years of membership in the WCHA. We are committed to be a strong WCHA partner for the next two years and look forward to competition in this new league beginning in 2013.”

The new conference will begin immediate research of additional members with no specific, predetermined limit on the final number of institutions. In addition, the conference expects to have a broadcast package in place before launching its inaugural season. The Goldwater Group and Stafford Sports will serve as conference consultants to initially assess additional members and the best possible media platforms.

A national search for the conference’s first commissioner as well as work on other organizational details will move forward after today’s announcement.

North Dakota Athletic Director Brian Faison said in forming the new league, officials built on four guiding principles: competitiveness, institutional commitment to hockey at the highest level, national exposure, and history and tradition. He said the six schools had been in discussion since as early as last fall.

Both Faison and Gwozdecky said Notre Dame has also been involved in the conversation with the schools forming the new conference.

“Forming this conference was important and necessary for many reasons. We needed to know about our future,” Gwozdecky said. “The landscape of college hockey is changing, and we’re focused on what makes the game better … We’re excited about the future as we move forward.”

Tags: , , , ,

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *