Five years after the college hockey world was rocked by realignment, the second round of realignment appears to be on the horizon. On Wednesday, Minnesota State University, Mankato President Richard Davenport announced that the Mavericks had formally applied to join the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
“We have certainly enjoyed our longstanding relationship with the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA),” said Davenport, “and our relationship with the WCHA and all of its league members remain strong.” Davenport also noted, “With an eye to the future, we wanted to be proactive in seeking what’s best for the University and believe that now is the right time to consider all conference affiliation options for our men’s hockey program.
“I would characterize submitting the application as the beginning of the process, while we explore possibilities with the NCHC.”
Ironically, on July 13, 2011, the six founding members schools of the NCHC held a joint press conference to announce the league’s formation. On September 22, 2011, the league added St. Cloud State and Western Michigan. The Mavericks are looking to be the league’s ninth school. Earlier this spring, Arizona State indicated that they’d like to join the NCHC. The earliest either team could join the NCHC is for the 2018-19 season.
No possible additions to league for 2017-18. Any possible additions would be for 2018-19. https://t.co/igsSNSwono
— Brad Elliott Schlossman (@SchlossmanGF) July 13, 2016
Shortly after MSU’s announcement, NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton penned the league’s response.
“Dating back to the conference’s inception, the collective strength of our current membership has always been and will continue to be a priority for the NCHC,” Fenton said in a release. “The NCHC responded to an inquiry we received from Minnesota State, Mankato regarding conference affiliation. However, and as stated many times before, our collective discussion on the topic of expansion is grounded in how we can maximize the value of our current member institutions.
”This manner of assessing any membership inquiry will continue to be our focus into the future, regardless of the opportunity presented. We remain guided by strengthening the NCHC and helping to grow the game of college hockey.”
Needless to say, the WCHA Bill Robertson isn’t happy with the Mavericks announcement today.
“I am aware of the current exploration process being undertaken by Minnesota State University, Mankato in regards to conference affiliation,” Robertson said in a release. “I am deeply disappointed in Minnesota State’s decision to formally apply for membership with another conference; however, I respect and understand the need for MSU President Dr. Richard Davenport and Athletic Director Kevin Buisman to examine options pertaining to their men’s hockey program. I am appreciative to Dr. Davenport for his openness and transparency, and will continue to maintain an open and collaborative dialogue throughout this process.”
Eric is a 1996, 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. Eric covers the University of North Dakota Hockey and Division I college hockey. Eric is the Contributing Editor for Inside Hockey.