The following release was just issued by the league.
The membership of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s men’s league, acting at it’s annual meeting today (April 28, 2009), has opted to pursue expansion of the league membership from it’s current 10-member team to a future membership of 12 teams.This tells me the league wants to go to 12 teams or stay at ten. At this point, expansion to 11 teams doesn't appear to be in the cards.
The timetable for expansion consists of lifting the current moratorium as of today and continuing indefinitely. The lifting of the moratorium on expansion means the WCHA can entertain membership applications from any interested institutions who meet the league’s criteria for membership. Meeting the criteria for membership does not, however, guarantee admittance into the Association.
“The Western Collegiate Hockey Association membership today took a positive step forward in their decision to embrace possible expansion,” said WCHA Commissioner Bruce M. McLeod, “and we will continue to explore we may expand once we have completed further studies and once we have been able to identify potential members that fit the league’s criteria for membership. Obviously, there are numerous issues involved in expansion, just a few of which include the transformation from a 10-team, 28-game conference schedule to an expanded 12-member team format that would still enable us to protect our natural rivalries as best as possible, and to make certain we safeguard our successful flagship event – the WCHA Final Five.
“The WCHA has a proud history of being sensitive to the issue of expansion and the plight of other collegiate hockey programs and today’s development is a further indication that the Association will continue its tradition of assisting in the growth and development of collegiate ice hockey with an ultimate goal of expanding.”
The 10 teams that currently make up the men’s WCHA are University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), Colorado College (CC), University of Denver (DU), Michigan Technological University (MTU), University of Minnesota (UM), University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), Minnesota State University, Mankato (MSU), University of North Dakota (UND), St. Cloud State University (SCSU) and University of Wisconsin (UW). The last expansion in the WCHA occured in 1999-2000 when Minnesota State University, Mankato joined the conference as it’s 10th team.
The Commissioner’s office, in conjunction with the league’s structure committee, will head up the expansion effort with the goal of identifying potential member teams as soon as possible. The earliest the WCHA would be able to integrate new teams into the men’s league would be for the 2011-2012 season based on current contractual obligations.
“The WCHA also wants to note that Bemidji State University’s presentation to the league at the annual meeting on April 27 was very professional and well received,” said McLeod. “The BSU student body, faculty, alumni, and the entire community should know that the league membership came away impressed with the University’s commitment to the student-athlete, both on and off the ice, the long track record of success their hockey program has achieved, the breaking of ground for the new Bemidji State Regional Events Center, and the degree of excitement throughout the community and northern Minnesota for the future of BSU Hockey.”
Bemidji State University’s application for league membership will remain under active consideration.
Bemidji State is an original member of the WCHA’s women’s league, which was founded in 1999-2000 and this past season celebrated it’s 10th anniversary.
Check with FanHouse.com for more information, as we'll have a chance to hear from WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod later Tuesday.