Vermont to Join Hockey East in 2005-06
join Hockey East for the 2005-06 season, the conference and the
university announced today. Athletic directors from the nine Hockey
East schools met on Tuesday to discuss the matter, and decided to
accept Vermont less than a month after the university's first official
letter of inquiry.
"We’re very appreciative of the way Hockey East handled the process," said Vermont athletic director Bob Corran, who attended the Tuesday meeting along with former Catamount coach Mike Gilligan, "and very excited about competing in Hockey East starting in the 2005-06 season."
Vermont pursued the move because it felt like Hockey East was a natural fit for the school's
premier athletic program.
at the fact that four of the nine current Hockey East teams are
in our multi-sport conference (America East), while none of the
ECAC teams are," Corran told
Inside College Hockey. "We looked at the fact that we are a
public land-grant university, and we're the only public land-grant
university in the ECAC, while public schools are more common in
Hockey East. Taking factors like those into account, we felt that
there was a real institutional fit and a real athletic fit."
Hockey East membership enthusiastically embraced the addition of Vermont, commissioner Joe Bertagna said in a press release.
"We are thrilled that the University of Vermont is joining the Hockey East family," Bertagna said. "It is rare that such an opportunity is met without the slightest trace of reservation. I can say with all sincerity that everyone associated with Hockey East has embraced this development with unusual enthusiasm and a sense of anticipation. The great tradition of UVM Hockey will fit perfectly within our own record of success."
of Vermont could present scheduling hurdles for Hockey East, in which
teams currently play each other three times in the conference schedule. Adding games to the conference schedule would reduce the number of non-conference games teams could play.
The loss of
Vermont leaves the ECAC with 11 teams and scheduling troubles of
Phil Buttafuoco said that his conference's Development and Legislative Committee will hold a conference call on Wednesday to begin evaluating whether the ECAC should add a team (or teams), and how that process would take place.
"Although several schools already have contacted us, the league will work through its committee structure to review the membership criteria and the philosophical and institutional fit of any prospective member," Buttafuoco said. "It is our goal that this initial process will be concluded prior to the ECAC Championship in March, and that any decisions regarding membership are made not later than the conclusion of the spring meetings."
Union head coach Nate Leaman, who succeeded first-year Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon in Schenectady, wished the Catamounts well in the move.
"A lot of us at this stage are just wishing Vermont the best of luck," Leaman said. "Kevin's a great guy and everyone realizes it may be a struggle for them at first but we're all hoping to see them do well."
ECAC schools – Clarkson, Rensselaer and St. Lawrence –
have questions about their futures which could be answered as early
as next week. Those three schools, plus Colorado College in the
WCHA, could have their ability to offer athletic scholarships eliminated
by an NCAA Division III reform proposal that will be voted on at
the NCAA Convention on Monday, Jan. 12.
East Membership Through the Years
College, Boston University, Lowell, Maine, New Hampshire, Northeastern
and Providence break from the ECAC and form Hockey East
joins Hockey East
joins Hockey East
will join Hockey East
plus Findlay's decision earlier this week to drop hockey after this
season, could lead to significant shake-ups in the college hockey
conference landscape, even beyond Vermont's move.
are the first team to join Hockey East since 1994-95, when the revived
program at Massachusetts joined the league.
was formed prior to the 1984-85 season when its members left the
ECAC. Since then, ECAC membership has been remarkably stable, subtracting
only Army and adding Union. Vermont
had been a member of the ECAC in men's hockey since 1974-75.
began exploring the move shortly after he was hired as A.D. in May,
appreciated Hockey East's quickness in coming to a decision.
it done as quickly as possible," Corran said. "We didn't
want this to be a distraction all season long. We wanted it handled
in a way where if the answer was yes, it would be a smooth transition,
and if the answer was no, there wouldn't be lingering bad feelings
also expressed hope that the timing would allow the ECAC to pursue
alternative members, if it chooses to do so.
the ECAC time for an orderly transition," Corran said. "We
look forward to playing ECAC teams and continuing the rivalries
we've established with teams like Dartmouth."
posted a winning record since 1996-97, but boasts enthusiastic crowds
at Gutterson Fieldhouse and a tradition that includes an ECAC regular-season
title and a trip to the Frozen Four in 1996. University President Daniel Mark Fogel has also expressed interest in building a new arena in Burlington, a further sign for optimism. Low points in recent
years included a 3-26-2 mark in 2001-02 and the 1999-2000 season
that was canceled midway through the year due to a hazing scandal.
Catamount team has struggled under first-year head coach Kevin Sneddon,
posting an 2-13-3 record (0-7-0 and in last place in the ECAC).
They were the nation's last team to post a win and stand 0-5-2 against
Hockey East opponents.
Myers and Joe Gladziszewski contributed to this report.