Sep 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – St. Cloud State University will decide Thursday whether the school will accept an invitation to join a new Division I men's hockey conference which will begin play in the 2013-14 season, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference announced Wednesday.
St. Cloud State President Earl Potter and athletic department officials were expected to announce the university's decision about the invitation at a news conference scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday.
The NCHC offered invitations to St. Cloud State as well as Western Michigan University to become the seventh and eighth schools to join the conference, which was formed in July by founding members Colorado College, University of Denver, Miami University, University of Minnesota Duluth, University of Nebraska Omaha, and University of North Dakota.
"After a thorough and deliberate evaluation process, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference is delighted to extend invitations to St. Cloud State and Western Michigan to become members of what we believe will be the premier college hockey conference in the United States," said Brian Faison, director of athletics at North Dakota and spokesperson for the conference's Athletic Directors Committee.
"Both universities fit perfectly with the established goals of our conference membership," said Faison. "Their programs are highly competitive and produce quality student-athletes. Each institution has made significant commitments to the continued success of their hockey programs and they are both located in tradition-rich hockey states. St. Cloud State and Western Michigan, with their passionate fans, will add a great deal to The National and we look forward to welcoming them."
"With the launch of the inaugural season for The National just two years away, and with greater clarity regarding membership, we are confident the strength of our schedules and the success of our teams will produce outstanding hockey with regional and national appeal, and strong contenders for the national championship on an annual basis," Faison added.
A move by St. Cloud State from the WCHA to the new NCHC would mark the latest massive shift in conference alignments. Following the decision by powerhouses Minnesota and Wisconsin to leave the WCHA in 2013 and join a new Big Ten hockey conference, five more WCHA schools -- Colorado College, University of Denver, University of Minnesota Duluth, University of Nebraska Omaha, and University of North Dakota-- broke off to help form the new NCHC.
With just five remaining schools, the WCHA last month added Alaska, Ferris State and Lake Superior State to begin play in 2013. Western Michigan also had an offer to join the WCHA.
In addition to advancing its membership process, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference has been conducting a national search for its first commissioner and expects to have its top executive in place by the end of the calendar year.