June 30, 2003
MAAC Hockey Schools Form 'Atlantic Hockey'
Bob DeGregorio named commissioner of new conference

By Nate Ewell

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The nine schools that formerly made up the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference hockey league announced on Monday that they have left the MAAC and formed Atlantic Hockey, a new conference that will begin play in 2003-04.

Former Merrimack athletic director and Hockey East commissioner Bob DeGregorio, Jr., has been named Atlantic Hockey's first commissioner. DeGregorio spent 20 years overseeing the Warriors' varsity programs and was Hockey East's commissioner from 1993-96.

Atlantic Hockey Schools

American International
Holy Cross
Sacred Heart

The new conference will maintain an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament – which the champion of the MAAC has earned for each of the last three years.

The decision came after a Friday afternoon vote of the nine athletic directors. The schools were given a Monday deadline from the MAAC to decide whether the 25-sport conference would continue to oversee the affiliate hockey league.

"The nine members of the new Atlantic Hockey are extremely grateful for the leadership that (MAAC commissioner) Rich Ensor and the MAAC have provided us during the first five years of Division I hockey," said Jack McDonald, athletic director at Quinnipiac. "We are all very excited about our new name, new governance and new commissioner."

"I think that this is a great opportunity," DeGregorio said. "I look forward to working with all of the (athletic) directors and coaches in the league. We hope to make this league one of the strongest in Division I ice hockey in the near future."

The MAAC was formed in 1998-99 with eight members, including three that had full MAAC membership – Canisius, Fairfield and Iona. The other participating schools were had affiliate memberships in hockey only, giving them a league to play in, but no direct say in the league's governing structure.

MAAC Hockey
Through the Years

1998-99 Original members: American International, Canisius, Connecticut, Fairfield, Holy Cross, Iona, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart
1999-00 Add: Bentley, Mercyhurst
2000-01 Add: Army
2001-02 No changes
2002-03 No changes
2003-04 Drop: Fairfield, Iona
Nine remaining schools split from MAAC and form Atlantic Hockey

When Fairfield and Iona decided to drop their programs earlier this year, that left just one full-fledged MAAC school – Canisius – participating in the MAAC hockey league. Splitting to form Atlantic Hockey will give all nine schools an equal say in the conference's governance, without losing the all-important automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

"We wish the hockey league members continued success as they continue on to a new affiliation," said Ensor. "The short history of the MAAC Hockey League was filled with tremendous growth and success."

The MAAC hockey league played a big role in changing the landscape of Division I hockey during its brief five-year existence. Its presence and growth was a large reason that the NCAA expanded its men's hockey tournament to 16 teams. This past April the MAAC, along with member school Canisius and Niagara of the CHA, hosted the NCAA Frozen Four in Buffalo.

Without the MAAC, none of college hockey's six Division I conferences enjoys membership on the NCAA Management Council, a group restricted to conferences that sponsor men's basketball. The CCHA, CHA, Hockey East and WCHA are all single-sport conferences, and the ECAC does not have a men's basketball conference.

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