UAA, UAF hockey teams left out of new hockey conference


Seven schools that are members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association announced Friday they are forming a new NCAA Division I college mens hockey conference, which will launch in the 2021-22 season.

The new division has left out the University of Alaska Anchorage and University of Alaska hockey teams, as well as one from Alabama, leaving those three teams without a conference to play in.

The move could signal the end of the mens hockey program for both Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses, as players will likely transfer to schools that are part of a conference.

The spokesman for the new conference indicated that travel costs to play in Alaska were a consideration.

Athletics consultant Morris Kurtz, speaking for the group, said, “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 seven schools include Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State Mankato and Northern Michigan. Each has independently submitted formal notices to the WCHA that they are initiating the withdrawal process in from the WCHA, but they will will play in the WCHA during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.

Western Collegiate Hockey Association President and Men’s League Commissioner Bill Robertson issued a response on Friday:

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

Those bylaws require a 25-month waiting period to withdraw.


  1. Bowling Green U is in Ohio, and. The rest of the “new league” aspirants are from mostly politically leftist states and, as for Bowling Green U, their political leaning is not advertised but one can surmise. No surprise they want Alaska and other conservative states out of their “competition”. Quoting “travel” expenses as a reason doesn’t sound legit to me. I think it’s “either think like we do or you’re out”. Maybe wrong, but I don’t think so. If I am, I’ll apologize. Political leanings are infringing on every aspect of “Americanism”, especially in the academic world. I say “academic world” with an unpleasant taste, now days. UA should lead the charge for a freely competing league, but they won’t. They could let lefties compete if they think they’re good enough against fair competition. Then, one must consider, UA “drivers” seems pretty “lefty” now days, also.

    • You see a Leftist Conspiracy under every pebble, eh?

      UAA hockey teams haven’t established the school as such formidable competition against the schools which are leaving WCHA, have they now? 🙂

      I see this as bad for the whole state – the Aces left, Nordstrom’s is leaving, now the U’s hockey teams will have to sit on the ice and play themselves or not. Probably it will be very difficult to attract participants to make teams just as it is getting harder each year to attract a student body. (Reported to me by a present student from Anchorage, who has been watching classmate go one by one. Luckily he will be graduating next Spring.)

      But then a colony of Houston doesn’t need a higher education system does it?

      • Boy, you’re out in droves, lately. I sure hope that “Anchorage” student that reported to you has more job opportunity than his degree from UA. He’ll need it. Go Houston!!

        • Speaking of being “out in droves” you’ve been pretty prolific yourself. I’m wondering if you’re for real or someone is paying you to post some of the drivel you put out!

          Do you know the difference between an “Anchorage” student and a “student from Anchorage?”

          I’m not worried in the slightest about his job opportunities. With his degree and minor they are probably essentially unlimited, but he’ll probably go to a decent grad school and help solve some pressing problem some folks don’t think exist!

          • I’m for real, jere. If you’re trying to pick a word fight with me, you might want to pack a lunch.

  2. “Athletics consultant Morris Kurtz, speaking for the group, said, “the group is comprised of institutions rich in history and tradition with a strong commitment to academic and athletic excellence.”
    Speaks volumes, does it not?

  3. Ben Colder’s comment reflect unhinged personality.
    Ben: stop spending hours every day reading conspiratorial drivel on the internet. Take a walk or do something to ground yourself in reality.

    • I’ve already been there with you, joe. Maybe you should “practice what you preach”. Your puerility is showing. You have nothing to offer except more leftist rhetoric. No thanks.

      • BC said: “I’m for real, jere. If you’re trying to pick a word fight with me, you might want to pack a lunch.”

        You’re the one who came out trying to start a “word fight.”

        I know better but will not shy from calling a spade a spade when I see one.

        have a nice weekend.

  4. You left a huge factor out. The Mankato Free Press reports that a major factor in the decision, especially for UAF (who was competitive) was the state’s “dire fiscal crisis.” This was before the additional veto cut on Friday.

  5. I feel a need to comment here to Ben Colder’s initial post. As a lifelong resident of a “Great Lakes” state & an alum of Bowling Green, I feel qualified to put this theory “to bed”. NW Ohio, home of BG, is rather politically diverse. The Cities of Toledo &, to an extent, BG, are liberal–as one would probably expect. The large swath of rural area that comprises the rest of the geographic area is very conservative. Lake Superior, Mich. Tech, & N. Michigan are all in the state’s Upper Peninsula (UP). The UP is rather conservative. The general sentiment among UP folks is that they’d rather be their own state. Again, generally speaking, they don’t feel they have much in common with their lower peninsula brethren and they definitely don’t like their state tax money going to the big cities–Detroit & Flint jump to mind specifically.

    Distance is probably the major player. Among the listed teams, BG & Bemidji are furthest apart geographically at a little less than 900 miles. BG to Alaska Fairbanks is about 3,700 miles. Bemidji to Huntsville is a little over 1,200 miles. I can’t help wondering if the performance of the three teams being eliminated is playing a role, too. This season, in the 10 team WCHA, Fairbanks came in at 7th, Huntsville at 8th, & Anchorage at 10th. Season ending in 2018: Huntsville 7th, Fairbanks 8th, Anchorage 10th; 2017: Fairbanks 6th, Huntsville 9th, Anchorage 10th; 2016: Fairbanks 8th, Anchorage 9th, Huntsville 10th; 2015: Fairbanks 4th, Huntsville 8th, Anchorage 10th.

    All of this said, I don’t like it–I always enjoyed watching Alaska Fairbanks in the days of the CCHA and I loathe the idea of seeing its program shuttered, though it certainly looks to be a real possibility.

    • Great,
      My apologies to you. I surely didn’t mean to offend any conservatives. Just saying what appeared to be the case.

  6. I fail to understand why UA needs to pay for ANY sports programs/teams. UAA hockey has been a notorious loser for years. Why not direct all resources to academics and encourage club/intramural sports for those who must have them? The focus must be on providing a quality academic program , not on extra-curricular distractions which can be easily found off-campus .

    • I tend to agree – sort of – especially were your thinking extended to the k-12 level.

      But examining the economics of post secondary schools’ athletic programs might be instructional. Some such are big money makers for the institution. UA? possibly not so much.

      In UA’s case there certainly should be a benefit to the whole state to have these programs attracting student athletes and competition from the lower states. If the programs are not paying there way in tangible returns though, maybe they need to go.

  7. In other words, the last functional remnants of Alaska’s third-rate excuse for a land-grant college are a couple of hockey teams no one cares about because they’re too far away from anything, apparently not worth Outside teams’ money or time to visit, and apparently not worth time or money to send to games Outside.
    Money is an issue, you might ask?
    From “University of Alaska Foundation Report to Donors”:
    “The Foundation manages the Consolidated Endowment Fund totaling $337.5 million, which includes both $191.1 million in Foundation endowments created by gifts from donors over the years, as well as the university’s land grant endowment of $146.4 million.
    During the 2018 fiscal year, the Foundation received $2.6 million in new endowment gifts and manages a total of 847 individual endowments. The Foundation also manages 859 non-endowed funds that are restricted by donors to specific purposes.
    ***The Foundation has a fund to support almost any area of interest at the University***. (emphasis added)”
    Bottom line is, no one in the university hierarchy cares, so why should anyone outside the Hallowed Halls care?
    Want to play hockey and get a decent college education, go Outside.
    At least you’ll have a decent chance at both.

    • Thanks for the link!
      At page 20, one finds this gem:
      “Recommendations Steps to Increase Revenues and Reduce Expenditures
      1. Increase Student Fees to Support Athletics
      2. Restructure Athletics Annual Giving
      3. Reduce Athletics Financial Aid by 10-20% (maximum)
      4. Eliminate / Consolidate Administrative Staff
      5. Eliminate / Reduce Facilities Rental Expenditures”
      Recommendations 1 and 2 at the top of the heap show college management’s priorities, what they care most about.
      From the same page: “These recommendations are offered as survival options in lieu of eliminating athletics completely at UAF.

      Similarly, it is important to recognize there is a capacity for athletics to generate revenues. Throughout this report is evidence that UAF is far exceeding peers in this area.”
      Think about that: ” UAF is far exceeding peers in this area.” So they’ve descended from the one thing they could do successfully to “survival”?
      Now one knows why college management cares.
      And the pièce de résistance: “There is no significant change that realistically can be made to dramatically increase generated revenues.”
      In other words, even senior management’s figured out all they can do is rearrange deck chairs on their very own Titanic.
      Too bad their customers might be doomed to sink with them…

  8. Ben Colder’s guess is off the mark, but there is so much PC BS floating around in our culture, it is not unreasonable for him to wonder. Look at what the Philly Flyers did with Kate Smith’s statue, all because she recorded songs in the 30s (which Paul Robeson also did) at a time when people were racially thoughtless. I am a Bemidji hockey alum and I can guarantee that geographic considerations are reigning supreme. The liberal states are feeling the pinch. The exhaustion of travel with jet lag weighs on visiting teams and unquestionably is why UAF and UAA, enduring so much more of it, cannot compete nor attract top prospects. The solution might be to join up with western Canadian colleges, whose student athletes don’t measure up, since most great Canadian players go into the minor pro’s instead of college.

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