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Arizona State played its first Division I season in 2015-16 (photo: Rachel Lewis).

The NCHC is poised to add Arizona State as a ninth member if school officials sign off, sources have told USCHO and College Hockey News reported on Friday.

A source said school presidents could vote in May on whether to admit Arizona State, which played its first season as a Division I program in 2015-16. (Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story said the presidents will vote in May, which has been put in doubt.)

NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton disputed the reports in a statement:

“Since the formation of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, the topic of membership remains a priority,” he wrote. “The focus has been and always will be strengthening our current member institutions. The opportunities to discuss expansion are grounded in our belief of what maximizes the value of the NCHC and strengthens college hockey as a whole. Although we will continue to discuss expansion, the reports made earlier regarding an impending change of membership within our conference are inaccurate. We remain guided by a keen focus to strengthen the NCHC and helping to grow the game of college hockey.”

Both the NCHC and the WCHA were known to have been courting the Sun Devils among the western conferences. The Big Ten, which is adding affiliate member Notre Dame as a seventh team in 2017, reportedly backed away from pursuing Arizona State.

Concerns about travel costs were part of the league discussions with Arizona State, a source said. The NCHC has two of the closest schools to the Sun Devils’ Tempe, Ariz., location in Colorado College and Denver, but each is more than 750 miles away.

It was unclear whether a Sun Devils move to the NCHC would take effect for the 2017-18 season or 2018-19. The league schedule for 2016-17 has already been released.

Arizona State was 5-22-2 in its first Division I season, including 2-3-2 in home games. Dating to their years as a club-level powerhouse, the Sun Devils have called 747-seat Oceanside Ice Arena, but they had four games in 2015-16 at Gila River Arena, home of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes.

The school and the Coyotes have been reported to be in talks about a partnership for a new arena in Tempe.

Arizona State has hopes to be in a new arena by the 2018-19 season.

  • DrunkTrainPolka

    .
    At least geographically it makes sense… but my money was on the B1G specially after the ND move.

    Now ask Tech to join so you round it up to 10. ;)

    GO TECH GOLD!
    .

    • Dashdriver

      It’d be nice to have the macnaughton cup and meanie girl back in the conference. But what do you do with the Pena Rosa? Give it to the the little 6 since their trophy is a joke?

      • DrunkTrainPolka

        .
        Change the name to the “Red Lantern Cup” and the problem is solved on what to do with it!

        ;)

        GO TECH GOLD!
        .

        • GDossetto

          Still think Tech makes most sense in the B1G. They have longstanding rivalries with four of the schools and the tradition of the MacNaughton is something that conference desperately needs. It would also give Wisco and Minny an old WCHA rival in conference that their fan bases say they need. It’d make more sense than UND or Denver who have zero incentive to leave their current arrangement given the success and almost guaranteed national tournament berth they enjoy.

          • Ron IsNotMyRealName

            Tech would add nothing to the B1G that they want — that is to say, money and access to market for said money.

            North Dakota and Notre Dame are the only programs that would seriously improve the B1G that are realistic options. And they already got Notre Dame.

          • Ring_ of_Fire

            North Dakota would not add anything to the Big 10 either…except for a good hockey program. Their “money” is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things and they have NO television market to speak of.

            (As far as national audiences go, the only ‘ND’ people care about is NOT in Grand Forks…)

            Unfortunately, the Big 10 only cares about hockey as filler between the basketball game of the week and the replay of the 1983 Michigan/Ohio State football game…

          • sn

            I disagree on UND not adding anything to the B10. Notre Dame adds little. The money generating in the B10 lies clearly on the west side of Lake Michigan. MN and WI have the great potential of packing the x at conf tourney time. UND would make it even better. If the B10 wants fans, they will have to bring in some old WCHA rivals for Goldy and Bucky. There are five schools from CCHA territory, although Penn St could be Eastern Hockey geographically. The B10 needs more western schools. I am sure it will reach out to some of the former WCHA rivals that I mentioned, otherwise, I won’t be going to any more games.

          • Ron IsNotMyRealName

            LOL whatever dude. You’re completely ignorant. UND draws better in Minneapolis than Minnesota does.

            The case for UND as a TV draw is similar to the case for Alabama in football. It may not be a massively populated state, but you get a higher share of it on game night than you would anywhere else. And a lot of UND fans are sprinkled throughout the rest of B1G country as well, including Chicago and especially Minneapolis and St. Paul. There were several major “official” game watch sites for the Frozen Four in the Twin Cities, and they were all packed.

            College hockey is a niche sport with a smaller overall following, so the fan base of UND that might be insignificant in a sport as large as basketball or football…is definitely not in hockey.

          • sn

            Notre Dame adds little to the B10. The B10 needs rivals from the old WCHA to draw serious fans. We must remember that in the B10, WI and MN are king in generating people in the seats. They can’t draw without serious rivals, and the cof tourney cant draw without them, not in St Paul anyway. I think the B10 plucks a few NCHC teams and M Tech to round out for ten teams, that is if they are smart. Adding Tech, UMD and possibly SCSU would do it.

          • model94

            Which is fundamentally an argument about why the Big hockey move was a really bad idea.

          • sn

            Yes, a horrible idea put forth by Alvarez and other football people.

          • Ron IsNotMyRealName

            Whatever, dude. Notre Dame is the best way to capture some part of the NYC and Chicago TV markets. That’s what the B1G is concerned about. Also puts them in better stead to maybe someday attract ND in other sports.

            B1G already has Michigan and Michigan State. They have no need of Michigan Tech whatsoever.

          • sn

            “Dude”? Talk to me when you leave middle school. The future Big 10 attendance numbers rely heavily upon MN and WI. ND does nothhing to help those numbers, and most WI and MN fans wouldn’t bother to attend a home game against ND. Fans in WI and MN want the Big Ten to offer some rivalries from the old WCHA. M Tech, UMD and SCSU would all be better for the B10 hockey conference than is ND. NO more old CCHA clubs. Other than MI and MI State, the league was a snooze fest.

          • Ron IsNotMyRealName

            It’s not about attendance. It’s about markets and television dollars. Notre Dame has a lot of alumni in NYC and Chicago. Rutgers, Northwestern and Illinois don’t play hockey. Getting it yet?

            North Dakota is the best realistic fit for another add, it’s just a question of whether the Big Ten would invite a school that significantly falls short of their academic standards. Of course Boston College would also be great but that’s very unlikely to happen.

          • SCSUfan1

            These “Rivalries” are only in the eyes of the smaller schools.

    • SCSUfan1

      I Be cool with that.

  • Top Dog

    I would love if Air Force would join the NCHC as well being 10 minutes from CC. It would also give Arizona another close league member to play each year. Air Force has finished near the top of Atlantic Hockey the past handful of years and would make the NCHC and even 10 teams…

    • SCSUfan1

      Air Force joining would great, but they are my 2nd favoritie team….

    • Ron IsNotMyRealName

      Air Force joining would probably force North Dakota and Duluth to consider their options. Would be seriously diluting the league at that point. ASU, CC, USAFA and WMU would make 4 teams that basically have very little chance of competing for NCAA tournament and drag down the league.

      • BoobyBaker

        Make Duluth consider their options? Are you serious? They’re perennial bottom dwellers, and before you get on my case, I graduated from there.

        • Ron IsNotMyRealName

          Um…they made the tournament this year. They have a national title in 2011. They’ve been to the tournament 5 times since 2009. Seems you don’t know that much about your alma mater’s hockey team, which is fine, until you start being an ass about it.

          • Bones

            A UMD fan knows little about his hockey team?? No way, say it ain’t so, I’ve never heard of that before.

          • BoobyBaker

            Bones, you managed to defend and insult UMD in the same post. Nicely done.

          • BoobyBaker

            Even Tampa Bay won a Super Bowl…

          • Ron IsNotMyRealName

            Give up. You’ve been exposed.

        • Bones

          Perennial bottom dwellers?? Umd hasn’t finished last in a conference in about 30 years.

    • tom

      Would never add Air Force, I would try to add Michigan Tech or MN State. By adding Air Force your looking to lower the Power Ranking of the league

      • Joey Loeffler, Jr.

        Bowling Green is my pick for team 10.

  • A Shot and a Goal

    I am also in favor of seeing the NCHC add ASU to its membership. At the same time, I hope the NCHC would actively pursue adding a tenth school to the conference. Yes, I understand the inherent problems of scheduling when there are an odd number of teams in a league. However, with ASU in the NCHC there would be ASU, CC, DU and Omaha all “reasonably” in close proximity to each other. I join Top Dog in saying I’d be delighted to see Air Force leave Atlantic Hockey and join the NCHC as a tenth member if ASU is voted in by the current schools.

    • Top Dog

      Right! Seriously though, look at the demographics of Atlantic Hockey…why the heck is Air Force in this conference?!

      • A Shot and a Goal

        Again, if the NCHC did amass a certain ten teams at least half of them [DU, CC, AFA, ASU, Omaha] would be relatively close to each other. DU, CC and AFA already bus to and from the games against each other. ASU could fly into either Denver of Colorado Springs for games against AFA, CC and DU. Yes, trips from Arizona to NoDak, W. Mich., and Miami would be long, but there are already some long trips for NCHC teams. I’m in favor of adding ASU and espcially if a tenth team can be found at the same time or shorty after adding ASU. ASU is already coming to Denver in January of 2017. I’m looking forward to seeing the Sun Devils.

        • Ron IsNotMyRealName

          In what world are Omaha and Phoenix relatively close to each other?!

      • atanarjuat

        Airforce doesn’t have to worry about travel because they’re in the Airforce. They like to beat up on Army which can also fly on the Airforce.

      • Air Force wants to play in the same conference as Army.

  • Sparky

    I think ASU has no other reasonable option. I mean, if they are not going to the B10, the only other conference that makes sense is the NCHC. This is a good thing for the NCHC, we need a “big” school….even if they are new to the scene. The league (and individual teams) should do all they can to bring ASU into the conference. Even if this means each team has to give up a home series (to ASU) in the first couple years. This is a win-win situation for the NCHC and ASU alike.

  • Rawr

    Good, good, now the B1G just needs to steal a major school from the NCHC…

    • Top Dog

      HaHaHa no major school, or any school for that matter, would down grade to the little six. Good one.

      • Ron IsNotMyRealName

        Why not? It’s only a downgrade in competition, but adding ASU dilutes the competition in NCHC anyway.

        Big Ten offers one thing the NCHC can’t — TV money and audience. North Dakota would suddenly be seen everywhere from New York City to Nebraska.

        • gosiouxgo

          I’m not sure it’s impossible for the nchc to provide more tv coverage. To say they can’t eludes to you knowing something the rest of us don’t. Maybe you can share why you’re certain of this. Please offer something other than the fact that the nchc hasn’t yet inked a deal with anyone.

          • Ron IsNotMyRealName

            The Big Ten will always have a bigger TV footprint than the NCHC. If you doubt this, then really you’re not worth my time.

          • gosiouxgo

            That’s not the argument but is it going to benefit the program and school that much more than if they were able to air their games even half as much? There’s more to it than just exposure. If you doubt this you are not worth my time.

          • Ron IsNotMyRealName

            Short answer, yes it will. But really, exposure and money is the name of the game, and UND would get plenty of both. They’d be on TV pretty much every week in NYC, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, etc. you get the idea.

      • tom

        There is not one team in the NCHC that would not jump on the chance to join the B1G. Its all about MONEY, and the B1G has the power and MONEY

        • gosiouxgo

          Laughable. I am not so sure North Dakota is dying to get into the BIG. Granted since the formation of the big North Dakota’s fans have been minimal, recruiting has been a “real” problem, they make no money, and haven’t won very many games. But, hey, there is always next year…wtf

          • Bones

            UND is cutting sports programs, open up your eyes. If North Dakota joined the big ten for hockey those programs are saved. A school with massive budget issues like North Dakota would have more benefits than negatives by getting a tiny chunk of the big ten coffers.

          • gosiouxgo

            Possibly but not certainly. If North Dakota was to be involved in the BIG in other sports yes but if they were to only join in hockey why would they be so different than they are now? The real question is how far is the NCHC away from getting more of their own exposure? If you’re the athletic director and the university you can’t believe you’re too far away. Heck just 5-6 years ago you could catch most of the North Dakota games on TV when they were in the WCHA. Was it the big ten network? No. But half of the BIG hockey games are aired when nobody is watching or can go to them. You have to be careful of taking something excellent and placing it somewhere that it might become mediocre. Just ask Wisconsin and Minnesota. Yes Minny has won some games but they no longer even fill the stands at their arena. Wisco will get better but both have been losing recruits like it’s their job. If you think nodak is immune to the same situation you’re foolish. Plus Nodak is not a peer school to the others in the BIG except for hockey in athletics.

      • Bones

        You don’t think North Dakota or Saint Cloud would jump at the money they big ten offers?? Stop being ridiculous, UND and SCSU are having huge budget issues, both have recently discussed or have enforced the cutting of sports. Joining the big ten saves those programs.

        • SCSUfan1

          SCSU had those problems a few years ago, and had to cut a few ‘minor’ sports this year. You are correct on the budget issue. But, SCSU seems pretty comfortable in the NCHC

          • Bones

            The article in today’s Minneapolis paper gives you all the info you need to know about Saint clouds issues. They write about a tennis player from Brazil who had been in the country two months and then was told scsu tennis will no longer exist so he will have to go back to Brazil and work in his fathers factory.

  • Vinnie Vega

    …and CC cheers!

  • SCSUfan1

    I hope the NCHC goes out ad tries to find another school to make the teams even at 10, but the best option now might be to sit back and let ASU get settled and see how the other conferences play out. It will create lopsided schedules and put a damper on the Frozen Face-off but the NCHC can make it work.

    • gosiouxgo

      No big deal for scheduling really. You can simply have a rotational schedule with alternating host/home weekends. One team gets a bye or non conference team. You could still maintain a regional and rivalry emphasis too. It’s really not that different.

      • Ring_ of_Fire

        *Nods* Yep.

        Everyone pretends that having an odd number of teams somehow requires an advanced degree in particle physics to make a cohesive schedule.

        It’s. Not. Complicated.

  • Ron IsNotMyRealName

    Terrible idea. ASU is a joke of a program with no home rink. Sharing with someone several miles away is a bad idea. They got way ahead of themselves and should have built a multi-purpose facility like Wisconsin’s Kohl Center before they moved up to D1. They are recruiting the leftovers of BCHL and USHL. It would be like adding another Western Michigan. Only benefit would be that the UND fans in Arizona could see their team play there, but IMO that’s not enough.

    This would weaken the NCHC’s brand of being about schools and areas that care about hockey first, and for no real benefit. The NHL is not popular in Arizona; ASU is unlikely to be either. They would also weaken the strength of schedule of the teams in the conference that are competitive for the NCAA tournament, as they both aren’t very good and play a mediocre schedule themselves.

    • Sparky

      Your comments show a complete lack of understanding of CH in general. There are very few schools on the horizon that are entering DI hockey, the NCHC should be thrilled to pick up a school like ASU. How good ASU is RIGHT NOW has ZERO input in this equation. The arena situation is not an issue, this will work itself out over time. And, your comments about WMU are ridiculous. WMU is not as bad as you think, they are a solid program with an excellent head coach. I could go on about how asinine your post is, but I will end here…..I don’t want to embarrass you more than you have done on your own.

      • Ron IsNotMyRealName

        Please, son. You have no idea what my knowledge of the sport and the NCAA in general is.

        Why should the NCHC be thrilled to pick up a school where hockey will be at best the #3 sport (and possibly lower with how popular baseball is there)? That’s completely the opposite of the NCHC brand — “where hockey is #1” that kind of thing — and their differentiation from the Big Ten. If they start taking imposters like ASU, that completely undermines the brand.

        There is no guarantee that the arena situation will “work itself out” in such a way that it makes them relevant. Pretty much all of their options are bad anyway, none of them put ASU in a first class facility near campus in the next few years.

        There’s no hurry here. If ASU is serious about hockey, then let them prove it and then offer them access to the best hockey conference in the nation.

        WMU has fewer NCAA appearances than UND has national titles. Yep, certainly a great program. Haha you must be related to someone there.

    • model94

      At least the WCHA didn’t bite. They have enough travel miles to deal with tank you very much.

      • Ron IsNotMyRealName

        Would have made more sense for the WCHA. They need the exposure, however it comes.

  • tom

    With ASU coming into D1 hockey its time to start up a Western Conference. You need 6 teams to earn a NCAA Bid so put ASU, (2) Alaska schools and the (3) Colorado schools. Then bring Michigan Tech, Minnesota State, Ferris State and Bowling Green into a 10 team NCHC.

    • Walker25

      You are assuming that Minnesota State, Tech, Ferris, or Bowling Green would want to leave the WCHA. Those four teams are at the top of there current league and while I think that all four of them could compete in the NCHC its questionable how well they would do. Addtionally the Added expense of the NCHC is likely to be another detractor. As far a tech going to the Big Ten, I seriously doubt the big ten would offer them any where near enough money to piss of there fans and shoot their program in the foot by going into the worst confrence in college hockey.

      • DrunkTrainPolka

        .
        Tech needs to join a stronger (didn’t say better) conference… it has so much to do with retaining Mel Person its not even funny. My take.

        Or at least be playing every single non-conference game against worthy opponents so you can build your case come tourney time.

        While I have no idea what is (or could be) in the works, our AD is on it… trust me.

        She will do what is best… within the possible.

        GO TECH GOLD!
        .

        • model94

          She has really done a nice
          job all around, for all sports.

      • model94

        Yep. There is too much fun in the Huskies beating up on the little ten big schools now.

        • SCSUfan1

          Michigan Tech could only deal with MSU and OSU and maybe Wisconsin on a weekly basis.

          • model94

            Hmm. I wonder why all except Michigan were rated lower in PWR and Div 1 Poll, then. Little 10.

          • Bones

            I can’t tell if you’re serious or not. You do realize tech hasn’t won an ncaa tourny game in any of our lifetimes right?

          • model94

            Today. I’m living today.

    • Ring_ of_Fire

      No. Just……no.

  • PiGuy

    When you would even consider bringing ASU in to your conference it just shows hoe badly the B10 screwed college hockey.

    • sn

      Barry Alvarez was a big part of what screwed college hockey.

  • Ring_ of_Fire

    I find the speculation regarding the potential of North Dakota joining the Big 10 entertaining; but, in the end, not very realistic.

    See, there is much hand-wringing about how positively such an affiliation could affect North Dakota athletics…but the thing no-one seems to be talking about is how little it would ultimately benefit the Big 10.

    Sure, North Dakota hockey would improve the BTHC….but that’s where the benefit for the conference AS A WHOLE ends. Keep in mind, hockey is (and always will be…) an afterthought for the Big 10. The primary revenue drivers are football and basketball. Hockey is viewed as something mildly interesting that fills the hours of Big 10 network programming that can’t otherwise be filled with football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, talking about football and basketball, playing reruns of classic football and basketball games, and, recently lacrosse.

    North Dakota has NO tradition of success in football or basketball that it can point to as beneficial for the Big 10. Additionally, it doesn’t bring a measurable TV market; and, let’s be honest here, isn’t the “ND” people think of when they are thinking about schools that have a truly national following.

    Finally (and possibly most importantly from the Big 10’s perspective) North Dakota is undeniably “academically incompatible” with the remainder of the Big 10 schools. According to the most recent USNews college rankings, North Dakota is tied for 180th place on their list of National Universities. The only Big 10 member even CLOSE to that low is University of Nebraska at #103 (and it has a traditionally relevant football team). The remainder of the schools range from #12 (Northwestern) to #82 (Iowa). If there were concerns about the academic environment at ASU (#129, if we’re keeping track), there is simply NO WAY the presidents, chancellors, or provosts of the other schools in the Big 10 would sign off on bringing North Dakota into the mix.

    (Note: Johns-Hopkins is 10th in the rankings, but is only an associate Big 10 member in lacrosse)

    Also, from North Dakota’s perspective, hockey drives the athletic department bus in Grand Forks. Why on earth would they want to get involved with a conference that doesn’t prioritize hockey? As it stands right now, they get pretty much any recruit they want, play in a conference (THAT THEY…along with Denver…STARTED) where a reasonable level of success guarantees them a birth in the NCAA tournament each year, play in front of packed houses each night, have cultivated a nice intra-conference rivalry with Denver, and get to run their athletic department the way they want to. Wind up in the Big 10, and much of that stuff changes.

    Honestly, North Dakota is happy where it is right now….and, like it or not, the Big 10 conference is likely happy without North Dakota in it.

    • gosiouxgo

      Agreed and on a side note those academic rankings are always good for amusement.

      • Ring_ of_Fire

        Oh, I know. Those rankings are an amalgamation of total crap mixed with complete dung.

        BUT…to pretend that “academic compatibility” isn’t a critical factor in conference alignment is delusional. In fact, it’s a large part of the reason Notre Dame has rebuffed all of the constant overtures made by the Big 10 for them to join as full members.

        • sn

          What? Are you suggesting that ND thinks it has some academic high ground on the B10 schools? Shirley you jest!

          • model94

            I’m a Tech grad, and many of my very best employees are BIG10 engineers !

          • Ring_ of_Fire

            I know you’re (kind of) joking, but I figure I might as well respond….

            Nope. Notre Dame is just a different kind of university than the Big 10 schools.

            Notre Dame is primarily an excellent undergraduate teaching institution, while the Big 10 schools are predominately respected national research universities. Both kinds of schools have their place and you can get a quality education at either…they’re just…different.

            For example, professors at Notre Dame are required to teach. A lot. And with VERY few exceptions, they must teach undergraduates. Conversely, there are bunches of professors at Big 10 schools that haven’t set foot in an undergraduate class since they got tenure – instead, they do research, write papers, and make doctoral candidates’ lives miserable.

            There’s nothing inherently wrong with either way of doing things – it’s just that Notre Dame doesn’t see itself as being the same kind of school as, say, Michigan. They’re both GREAT schools, to be sure…just founded on and operated with different philosophies as to what a college should strive to be.

            That difference – along with Notre Dame’s desire to keep its football independence AND the Big 10’s disdain for associate memberships – is what’s kept ND out of the Big 10.

            Until now.

            With the move of hockey, it will be interesting to see if other Irish sports eventually follow, or if they stay in the ACC. I know what the Big 10 wants…but I’m not sure if Notre Dame is in agreement, there…