New-look CCHA college hockey conference announced


By @MichaelCaples –

Welcome back, CCHA (kind of).

Today, the seven college hockey programs that declared an exploration into a new college hockey conference over the summer made a new announcement – they have a name and it’s a rather familiar one.

Michigan-based schools Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan, as well as Bemidji State, Bowling Green and Minnesota State University, Mankato will be playing in a new-look Central Collegiate Hockey Association in the 2021-22 NCAA season.

“After extensive discussion and significant due diligence, it made sense to everyone involved to move in this direction,” said Dr. Morris Kurtz, the consultant guiding the seven programs through the conference creation process, in a press release. “The name conveys the current geographic alignment of our members and the CCHA brand has a tremendous amount of equity and goodwill associated with it. What’s old is new again and we look forward to refreshing the brand and identity to fully capture the energy and passion of the institutions it represents.”

In June, the seven programs – all part of the WCHA – announced a joint exploration into a new college hockey conference.

“It’s been inspiring to lead this group as it is comprised of institutions rich in history and tradition, with a strong commitment to academic and athletic excellence,” Kurtz said. “As noted from inception, they have a real vision for where they are going with the new league, as they focus on improving regional alignment while building natural rivalries and enhancing the student-athlete and fan experience.”

The press release says that a logo and branding will come at a later date, and the search process is underway for a conference commissioner. Kurtz expects to have a commissioner in place by July 1.

“We have interviewed several consulting firms to assist us with brand development,” Kurtz said. “That process will create some momentum for us as we begin the commissioner search process. I am confident that the Central Collegiate Hockey Association commissionership presents an incredible opportunity. We will find the right person and have them ready to start leading this group by July 1.”

The previous CCHA, which operated from 1971 to 2013, disbanded during the college hockey realignment that resulted from the creation of the Big Ten hockey conference and the NCHC.

At the time of its folding, the CCHA had Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Northern Michigan, Bowling Green, along with Michigan, Michigan State, Western Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Miami and Alaska Fairbanks.

Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame are now with the Big Ten, while Western Michigan and Miami joined the NCHC.

Alaska Fairbanks joined the WCHA alongside the other displaced CCHA programs; Fairbanks, Alaska Anchorage and Alabama Huntsville are the current WCHA programs that were not part of this summer’s joint exploration into a new conference.

At the time, they issued this joint statement:

Seven prominent NCAA Division I men’s hockey playing institutions have announced the exploration of a new Division I men’s hockey conference that would begin play with the 2021-2022 season. The seven institutions include: Bemidji State University; Bowling Green State University; Ferris State University; Lake Superior State University; Michigan Technological University; Minnesota State University, Mankato; and Northern Michigan University.

The group is comprised of institutions rich in history and tradition with a strong commitment to academic and athletic excellence. They are like-minded in their goals and aspirations for the potential new league with a focus on improving regional alignment and the overall student-athlete experience while building natural rivalries within a more compact geographic footprint.

The potential new conference is also committed to providing the best possible collegiate hockey experience for its student-athletes, fans, and all stakeholders. Finally, the group would plan to establish itself as an elite hockey conference that would have the highest standards for overall competitiveness and rigorous non-conference scheduling, along with a level of institutional investment that demonstrates significant commitment to their hockey programs and facilities, while also establishing relationships with corporate partners and others that create a high degree of visibility and positive media exposure for the league.

As current members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) men’s league, the schools have independently submitted formal Letters of Notice to the conference office, initiating the withdrawal process in accordance with WCHA Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. The institutions will continue to play in the WCHA during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons.

The seven institutions have engaged Dr. Morris Kurtz, a long-time athletics administrator and noted athletics and hockey consultant, to serve as spokesperson and to assist them as the group sets out to transform the college hockey landscape.

During these initial stages of developing the potential new conference there will be no further comment from these institutions, including Presidents, Athletic Directors, and Coaches. Media inquiries should be directed to Dr. Kurtz.