Four Michigan D1 schools part of exploration into new college hockey conference


By @MichaelCaples –

Seven schools with NCAA Division 1 men’s hockey programs have jointly announced an exploration into a new college hockey conference that would begin play in the 2021-22 season.

Four of the seven are Michigan-based schools, all currently competing in the WCHA – Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan.

The seven schools – Bemidji State, Bowling Green and Minnesota State University, Mankato make up the rest of the group – have asked Dr. Morris Kurtz to serve as spokesperson and assist them as the group “sets out to transform the college hockey landscape.”

Kurtz was the long-time athletic director for St. Cloud State. In 2013, he joined the Penn State athletic department to assist with the development of its men’s and women’s hockey programs.

Statement in full:

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.


League Commissioner Bill Robertson issued the following statement today regarding the announcement that several WCHA Men’s League schools intend to explore the formation of a new men’s college hockey league and leave the WCHA.

“Late this afternoon, the WCHA office received communication from several of our Men’s League institutions that they intend to explore the creation of a new Division I men’s hockey conference that would begin play in 2021-22. The institutions have indicated they intend to compete in the WCHA during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.

“While this news is disappointing, the WCHA will work to assure that any members that do withdraw do so in accordance with WCHA Bylaws.”