Last Tuesday, the Arizona State Sun Devils officially applied to become a member of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. In July, the Mankato State Mavericks announced that they’d like to become a member of the NCHC. Both schools were interested in joining the NCHC for the 2018-19 season.
After ASU’s announcement, it appeared the NCHC was moving towards expansion. That’s on hold for now. On Wednesday, the NCHC announced that they will not be expanding. For the time being, the league will remain at eight teams.
“After careful consideration and a thorough vetting process, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s Board of Directors announced the Conference will not move forward with membership expansion at this time, NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton said a release. “We will continue to be attentive to the college hockey landscape and any future changes that may come. However, our focus right now is guided by what we can do to strengthen our current membership into the future.”
Before moving forward with expansion, the league would like to focus on their current members first.
“We need to keep getting better,” Colorado College Athletic Director Ken Ralph told the Colorado Spring Gazette. “We have been doing incredibly well financially and all eight school remain committed to college hockey; a core principle from when the league was founded.”
“This is nothing against either Arizona State or Minnesota State,” Ralph added. “We decided we need to continue focusing on our eight member schools. We are still a pretty young league.”
On Wednesday, the Minnesota State Athletic Department sent out this release via Twitter.
— Minn. St. Athletics (@msumavericks) August 31, 2016
The Arizona State Athletic Department has yet to make an official statement.
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.