Western Michigan “pleased With Conversations”

This afternoon, Western Michigan University sent out a statement saying that it has been in contact with athletic directors around the country recently and that the Broncos “fully expect to make an announcement before the start of the next academic year.”

The statement does not say which direction the Broncos are looking, but it certainly appears that they do not intend to stay in the CCHA.

In a story in the Kalamazoo Gazette, Western Michigan’s athletic director says that the Broncos would like to move along with Notre Dame to a new location.

It’s no secret that the new conference, which UND will join in 2013-14, also covets Notre Dame. If the Irish come aboard, it will look for an eighth school, and the Broncos are definitely a possibility.

Here’s the full release from the school:

“KALAMAZOO — Western Michigan University’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has had numerous discussions and meetings, over the past few months, with athletic directors across the country concerning the potential for significant conference realignment in NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey.

These discussions featured a presentation entitled “WHY WESTERN!” This presentation promotes a few of the strategic benefits Western Michigan University brings to a hockey conference.  A link to this presentation is included below.

Bronco Nation should know that WMU’s Athletic Department is pleased with the direction these conversations are headed and fully expect to make an announcement before the start of the next academic year, as to our future conference plans for our hockey program.”

18 Responses

  1. Todd

    Brad, any chance Eades could be up for the coaching vacancy at Western? I heard somebody say on another blog that the new league will be called the Collegiate Hockey Conference.

      1. Mike

        I think the comment in regards to the conference name comes from the Fighting Sioux website, or at least the announcement on the Fighting Sioux app. on my i-phone. The announcement title stated, “Collegiate Hockey Conference Joint Statement”. It certainly implies that name, or it was strictly a reference to a college hockey conference.

  2. RC

    The Iron Mountain Daily News had a piece stating that Western Michigan officials visited UND last week or the week prior. Can you confirm?

  3. UND_Guy_in_NJ

    I feel like there is way more anger over this conference move vs. the previously announced Big Ten move. I don’t get it. Certainly there are differences because the B10 is an existing conference, but the impacts/repercussions for both conference announcements are really of the same vein. There seems to be a sentiment to give the BTHC a pass (likely because it is an existing brand) and cast all blame on this new conference. That doesn’t make sense.

    The Big Ten schools had as much history, affiliation to the WCHA/CCHA as anyone. Those schools certainly did not take into account the impacts to member schools when making their decision. Why should UND or DU have to weigh the impacts to other schools when making the same basic decision about their hockey program? I fee like at the end of the day, but for the BTHC none of this would be going down.

    Feel free to set me straight Brad.

    1. John

      I agree with you 100%. Wisconsin and Minnesota didn’t seem care at all about the WCHA and seem to be interested in the money they will get from the Big 10. I just think it is a lack of respect for North Dakota and Denver and the other school that are jumping ship. I have been a fan of the WCHA for years but maybe it is time for a change

      1. grandforksinsider

        Although I don’t believe blaming only the Super Conference is the right thing to do, there is a difference. Minnesota had no choice regarding the Big Ten Hockey Conference. Once there was six big ten teams, they had to go along. In fact, I’ve heard that Minnesota opposed going to the Big Ten. Of course Wisconsin was a different story. On the other hand, UND and Denver had no obligations to leave the WCHA and did so under their own power. That’s the difference.

        In reality, the college landscape changed because of one event: Penn State added hockey.

  4. Bis-Man Sioux Fan

    The formation of a new DI conference certainly is going to change the face of college hockey, but I think there will remain just six conferences — Big 10, Hockey East, ECAC, Atlantic Hockey, WCHA-CCHA and the newly-formed league. I can’t imagine the WCHA and CCHA could continue to operate separately. The WCHA needs another member and reportedly will get it with Northern Michigan. That leaves the CCHA with six– LSSU, Ferris State, Bowling Green, Alaska, Notre Dame and Western Michigan. However, Notre Dame and Western will be playing somewhere else in 2013-14. So, perhaps Alabama-Huntsville gets an invite to the CCHA or WCHA, but again that leaves the CCHA on shaky ground. Other teams moving over to the CCHA have been kicked around like Niagara and Robert Morris, but leaving a stable conference for one that is not would be risky. No, the only way the small programs in the CCHA survive is a combined WCHA-CCHA conference.

    The members of the newly-formed conference had to know that and that’s key when looking at future NCAA Tournament bids.

    Six conferences will mean that spreading out the NCAA Tournament bids after the 2012-13 season will go something like this: (3-4-5 for HE; 3-4 for Big 10; 3-4 for New Conf.; 1-2-3 for ECAC; 1 for Atlantic Hockey; 1-2 WCHA-CCHA. Of course, that’s provided there remains 16 bids. Those bids are based on the Pairwise, winning percentage and strength of schedule.

    If teams fold and the NCAA reduces the tournament field back to 12, well, then it’s not just the new league that will have a tough go, but also the Big 10 and Hockey East.
    From UND’s perspective, a six or eight-team league which, on average, gets three or four bids a year to the NCAA Tournament is not much different than a current conference of 10 or 12 members that gets four or five bids now.

    Sure, a conference with DU, CC, Miami, Nebraska-Omaha, Duluth and potentially Notre Dame and Western Michigan is challenging, but so is one right now with Minnesota, Wisconsin, Duluth, DU, CC, St. Cloud State and Nebraska-Omaha. We have witnessed some pretty good WCHA programs that do not qualify for the NCAA Tournament in the past several years. UND has been able to make the tournament field the past nine seasons. An incredible stretch when you think of the quality programs in the WCHA and a reason why the athletic administration and coaching and program supporters, believe strongly they can continue that success in this new league.

    Certainly the upside to this new conference is to remain in stride with the other perennial powers around the country in regards to recruiting, media exposure, revenue streams as well as continue to have a good chance of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament annually.

  5. Sioux in Denver

    Is Western Michigan’s ego bloated just a bit with all this attention they are getting? I have not seen a peep from Notre Dame on this topic. Who knows how far down the things to do list this conference affiliation is for the Notre Dame AD.

  6. bemidjimike

    I agree with Mankato Free Press blog/reporter Shane Frederick’s comments that not only what is being done hurts hockey overall, but the sneaky way it came to be shows the AD’s didn’t care too much about the overall good of the sport. No matter if you’ve been in the league 5 years or 50 years…its a dog eat dog world. Out of all the teams involved, truthfully North Dakota is the biggest surprise, especially with all the talk about PRIDE, HONOR and LEADERSHIP thats been penned in regards to keeping the SIOUX name and logo. It seems actions speak louder than words. There will be hard feelings in college hockey for years to come….not that anyone cares too much.

    1. Siouxguy

      I didn’t hear some of you people complaining about the sneaky way that the WCHA went about getting Nebraska Omaha behind the scenes. Oh, but that was to the benefit of the WCHA schools at the time, so it was okay. Now when it isn’t to the benefit of some of those schools, it seems to be a huge problem.

  7. Siouxguy

    What about the sneaky way that Northern Michigan is ditching their CCHA brothers? I would think that you wouldn’t want a team that goes behind their leagues back for their own benefit. Once again, very hypocritical.

  8. Trickey7

    I like the new conference, we want to see the best hockey and you just aren’t getting that from Alaska, Michigan Tech and Bemidji. There isn’t a team in the new conference who you worry about putting a quality team on the ice. It allows non-conference scheduling for UND with top quality programs also. It would be great to add Notre Dame, but if not it will be a better conference than the WCHA was previously.

  9. CJ

    I don’t understand all this talk about how the participating teams were “sneaky” in their dealings with starting a new conference. Simply being a current fellow conference member does not entitle you to be at the table of all discussions regarding future conference affiliation of other member schools. These schools are doing what they feel is in their best interest after their hand was forced with the BTHC. I don’t see how this could have been done in a public/semi-public forum. I think they went public as soon as they had something to go public with.

  10. bemidjimike

    The sneaky part was the WCHA met in April and everything was smiles and handshakes. The WCHA let Bemidji State and U of O in thinking for sure that they would be loosing some teams in the near future with word leaking out about the Big 10 conference. The bottom line is the Sioux do not want to give up a scheduling spot anymore to play Bemidji State University in a 4000 seat arena and do not want to share revenue from the WCHA tourney with a 5000 student school like BSU or a 7000 student school like MTU. Watch FOX SPORTS NORTH (with affiliates in Colorado) swoop in for some TV money and rights. We’re not nieve….ITS ALL ABOUT MONEY and certainly not about the sport/tradition or anything else.

  11. CJ

    I don’t disagree that it is all about the money. But there is nothing in UND’s past that would suggest they will stop scheduling non-conf games with schools such as BSU or MTU. CC isn’t a very large school so size is not the issue. Sioux fans are going to want to see games against team more local than Miami, UNO, DU, and CC. Will UND travel out to Houghton every year in the future? Probably not (Tech probably belongs in the CCHA anyway). But I will be dissapointed if BSU isn’t a regular stop for the the Sioux… but I really don’t expect that to be the case.

  12. Bryan

    First… it is definately all about the money. It is unfortunately the way of big time college sports now. I am still not sure I love the idea of the super conference or the bthc, but they are realities so everyone will have to adjust accordingly. To bemidji mike… the Beavers are my second favorite college hockey team. I really hope I get to continue to watch Sioux games at the Sanford Center for years to come, but lets not get all Jan Brady here. This entire mess is not the big, bad Sioux’s fault. It is the fault of the world of college sports today, and everything precipitated by the formation of the bthc. And on a side note… as much as I hate the Goofers, they did not want to leave the WCHA, they had NO choice once Penn State made 6 teams for an autobid conference and the big 10 network decided they needed some filler in their midnight to 3am slot. Like I said, I don’t love the new conferences, but it is a reality… and BSU or SCSU or MTU would all have done the exact same thing if given the opportunity. As a Sioux fan, but mostly a college hockey fan, I don’t want to see any teams fold, especially any of our WCHA brothers, so I hope bad feelings aside, everyone will continue to schedule each other and support each other. UND has always been good at that, much better than some of our other unnamed WCHA teams.

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