January 29, 2004
Robert Morris to Join CHA in 2004-05

By Nate Ewell

Robert Morris, which is joining the Division I men’s college hockey ranks in 2004-05, has accepted an invitation to join College Hockey America (CHA), the school and conference announced today.

The decision spares the CHA’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which was in jeopardy since Findlay announced its plans to cut hockey at the end of this season. Conferences must have six members to be eligible for an NCAA automatic bid, and the addition of Robert Morris will maintain the CHA’s membership at six teams.

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When its plans to add varsity hockey first became public on INCH in April, Robert Morris officials had expressed interest in joining the MAAC – which since has become Atlantic Hockey. Since Findlay’s decision, however, the CHA redoubled its efforts to lure the Colonials into the fold.

“We’re delighted to have Robert Morris University’s men’s program join College Hockey America,” CHA commissioner R.H. “Bob” Peters said in a statement. “Robert Morris brings a long history of academic and athletic achievements, which are recognized both regionally and nationally, to the conference.”

The school echoed that enthusiasm.

“We’re pleased to be part of College Hockey America,” said Dr. Susan Hofacre, the school's athletic director, in a statement. “As we enter Division I ice hockey, the CHA offers us a high level of competition and the opportunity to compete for a conference championship and an NCAA bid. We’re looking forward to creating rivalries with the CHA schools and, as we prepare to add women’s ice hockey, the CHA will provide a home for that program as well.”

Robert Morris’s decision means that another domino has fallen in college hockey’s ongoing conference realignment, a process that began this year with Findlay’s decision and Vermont’s move to join Hockey East in 2005-06. Still to be determined is whether the ECAC will add a 12th member to replace Vermont, and, if that is an Atlantic Hockey or CHA school, how that conference would respond.

Robert Morris already has ties to the CHA, having hired former Air Force assistant coach Derek Schooley as the program’s head coach in August. Air Force was among the CHA’s charter members.

“We are very excited to be joining College Hockey America,” Schooley said. “The CHA is an emerging conference that has shown to be very competitive on the national college hockey landscape the past few seasons. This will be a very challenging but exciting start to the Robert Morris University Division I hockey program.”

Robert Morris, which will play home games at the recently-purchased Island Sports Center, is located just outside of Pittsburgh in Moon Township, Pa. The addition of Robert Morris, combined with the loss of Findlay, will maintain the number of Division I men's college hockey teams at 58 next season.

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