The face of college hockey continues to shift and change. Wednesday in another potentially major shift, Minnesota State University announced that they have recently applied to join the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC).
The news sent ripples through both the NCHC and the WCHA Wednesday.
"We have certainly enjoyed our longstanding relationship with the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA)," said Minnesota State President Richard Davenport in a statement Wednesday. "With an eye to the future, we wanted to be proactive in seeking what's best for the University and believe that now is the right time to consider all conference affiliation options for our men's hockey program."
The move, if approved, would reunite Minnesota State with six schools that left the WCHA for the NCHC previously – Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota Duluth, Nebraska Omaha, North Dakota and St. Cloud State and would give the league a ninth team.
But according to the Mankato Free Press, Minnesota State's approval into the NCHC is anything but a sure bet and the earliest the Mavericks could join the conference is 2018-19.
WCHA Commissioner Bill Robertson acknowledged in a statement that he was aware of MSU's conference exploration process.
"I am deeply disappointed in Minnesota State's decision to formally apply for membership with another conference; however, I respect and understand the need for MSU President Dr. Richard Davenport and Athletic Director Kevin Buisman to examine options pertaining to their men's hockey program," Robertson said.
While Minnesota State may be looking at its options, Robertson isn't ready to close the door on their time in the WCHA either.
"The WCHA has a valued relationship with Minnesota State University, and I want MSU to be a part of the long-term future and shared excellence of our Men's League. The League Office will continue to work toward that end," Robertson stated.