27, 2005; UPDATED: April 29, 2005
CHA Pursues Replacement for Air Force
James Jahnke, Nate Ewell and Mike Eidelbes
College Hockey America’s future in doubt, the conference’s
athletic directors have approved an aggressive plan to pursue
a new member, including financial incentives worth more than $250,000
over the first three years of the new school’s tenure in
package was approved at the recent conference meetings in Naples,
Fla., and the conference announced the plan in a Friday press release.
"We felt it was in the best interests for the continued growth and development of college hockey that we
take a proactive approach toward expansion," said commissioner Bob Peters. "As we prepare to host the Frozen Four (St.
Louis in 2007) and to build on our position in collegiate hockey, our athletic directors felt strongly that an
incentive package would encourage growth."
Force leaving the CHA for Atlantic Hockey beginning in the 2006-07
season, the CHA is in jeopardy of losing its automatic bid
to the NCAA Tournament. The CHA must have a sixth member in place by 2008-09 in order to maintain its automatic bid.
those time constraints, it’s unlikely that a new varsity
program or a Division III program elevated to Division I would
be the CHA’s answer. Instead, the league would have to target
an existing program in another conference.
Inside College Hockey that several potential new members were
discussed in Naples. They range
from potential fits in Atlantic Hockey – Canisius or Mercyhurst
– to smaller schools in the more established conferences
– Merrimack in Hockey East or Ferris State or Lake Superior
State in the CCHA. These schools either could not be reached for comment or would not confirm that they were either considering or had been approached regarding the CHA's offer.
Before the coaches' convention, Mercyhurst head coach Rick Gotkin discounted the possibility of a move by the Lakers.
never had any discussion about our men's team going to the CHA," he said at the time (Mercyhurst's women are members of the CHA). "We like
where Atlantic Hockey is going, and at the same time, we'd love to see the
CHA continue to grow. We're on the record for wanting the full 18
scholarships, but this is a little bigger than just one issue. We're
content where we're at."
Club programs that could be considered include Iowa State (those not in the mix include Lindenwood, which told Inside College Hockey recently that upgrading its program is not an option at this time, and Navy, which is all but assured of joining Atlantic Hockey if its program is elevated to varsity status).
"(The) subject (of going varsity) has not been broached for about six years," said Dr. Alan Murdoch, head coach of the Iowa State club team. "If it is going to happen, it is
going to be by money backers, and that number is starting to grow. Nothing's
planned or anticipated today, to my knowledge."
package the CHA is offering consists of $50,000 to the school
for each of the first three years that it spends in the league,
plus a waiver of league dues and the league’s $100,000 initiation
fee. The CHA also promises a share of league revenues and scheduling considerations to its potential new members.
"We feel strongly that with the automatic bid our champion receives to the NCAA tournament, the
commitment of our institutions to the long-term success of hockey, and the proximity of our universities, that this combination of incentives will be attractive," Peters added. "We will move quickly on adding an additional
program to our conference."