WCHA, CHA auto-bids in jeopardy
NCAA legislation punishes college hockey conferences
College Hockey Exclusive
By Mike Eidelbes
hockey officials are working feverishly to preserve the
Western College Hockey Association and College Hockey America’s
automatic NCAA Tournament bids, which would be eliminated
next season by legislation that is scheduled to be phased
in by the NCAA in September.
“The hockey community was definitely not aware,”
WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod told Inside College Hockey
Wednesday morning, “and some other sports really didn’t
even know this happened.”
Automatic Qualifier Rule
(scheduled to go into
Conference must have at least six core institutions
that satisfy continuity-of-membership (a core institution
is one that has been an active member of Division
I the eight preceding years).
Conference must have at least six core institutions
that have conducted conference competition (conference
championship) together in Division I the preceding
two years in the applicable sport.
Any new member added to a conference that is satisfying
the continuity-of-membership requirements shall not
represent the conference as the automatic qualifier
until it has been a Division I member for at least
two preceding academic years.
provision requires conferences to have no fewer than six
full-time Division I members – schools where every
sport is Division I – in order to receive auto-bids
for NCAA championships in any sport. Furthermore, each of
those schools must have maintained Division I status for
at least six years.
a Division I membership issue that does go across all sports,"
said Ken Taylor, director of championships for the MAAC,
a league whose automatic bid is not at risk under the rule.
"Its intent is to promote the multi-sport conferences.
(The legislation) has been done for three years, just nobody
picked up on it."
said the MAAC discovered the situation while exploring the
possibility of splitting its hockey-playing members into
two separate conferences. MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor called
the NCAA to find out when the additional league would be
eligible for an automatic bid. The NCAA told Ensor that,
as of September, they wouldn't be eligible under this rule,
forcing the MAAC to shelve the plan for the time being.
commissioners' group (Ice Hockey Collegiate Commissioners'
Association) met in January," Taylor said, "and
that's when Rich Ensor discussed the issue with the other
CHA has just two full-time Division I members in Air Force
and Niagara. The WCHA, which has produced more than 60 percent
of the NCAA champions in the tournament’s 51 years
of existence, counts Denver, Minnesota and Wisconsin as
its sole full-time Division I members.
the WCHA the practical aspect is not huge, because we’re
going to get our teams in,” McLeod stated, “but
it’s a devastating thing for the CHA and…for
any growth in new conferences.”
contacted by Inside College Hockey, CHA commissioner Bob
Peters acknowledged that his conference’s automatic
bid would be affected by the change, but chose not to comment
on the matter, saying it’s too early to speculate
on the outcome of the issue at this time.
measure was on the agenda of the NCAA Competition and Championships
Committee, whose meeting in Indianapolis ended Wednesday.
Most of the discussion took place in a sub-committee meeting
Monday. McLeod did not attend the sessions, but said all
indications are that the committee is looking at solutions
to the dilemma, be it through proposal of new legislation
or by amending the current edict. The NCAA is also in the
process of determining how many conferences are affected
by the change.
Division I Ice Hockey Conferences
(full Division I members in italics)
Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior
State, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska-Omaha,
Northern Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Western
Force, Alabama-Huntsville, Bemidji State, Findlay,
Niagara, Wayne State
Clarkson, Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard,
Princeton, Rensselaer, St. Lawrence, Union, Vermont,
College, Boston University, Maine, Massachusetts,
Mass.-Lowell, Merrimack, New Hampshire, Northeastern,
International, Army, Bentley, Canisius,
Connecticut, Fairfield, Holy Cross, Iona, Mercyhurst,
Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart
Anchorage, Colorado College, Denver, Michigan
Tech, Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota
State-Mankato, North Dakota, St. Cloud State, Wisconsin
modifications to the rule would have to be approved by the
NCAA Management Council at its spring meeting. The Management
Council is comprised of 46 members representing the 31 Division
I basketball conferences. Some leagues get more than one
vote – the Big Ten, for example, has three representatives
on the Management Council, while the MAAC has two.
Management Council) put this standard in, and when they
review it in April there will be a lot of questions from
certain sports about its implementation," Taylor said.
"Hockey, lacrosse, volleyball and wrestling are the
big ones affected."
is guardedly optimistic the issue will be resolved and the
WCHA and CHA won’t lose their automatic bids. He states
that key members of the NCAA are involved in the process,
including Division I Chief of staff David Berst, Director
of Membership Services and Division I Governance Liaison
Stephen Mallonee and Ice Hockey Championship Coordinator
of the growth of our championship, the NCAA as a whole is
more aware of our circumstances than ever,” McLeod
to 2001 financial data found on the organization’s
Web site, the Ice Hockey Championship, which expands from
12 to 16 teams starting this March, was one of four NCAA
Division I postseason events to turn a profit. The others
are also men’s sports – baseball, basketball
understands that this is ridiculous,” says McLeod.
“I don’t want to be disparaging about the MAAC,
but you’re telling me the MAAC can get an automatic
qualifier and the WCHA can’t?”
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