Founding the NCHC as told by Brad Schlossman

Photo courtesy of Maddie MacFarlane: DU is one of three NCHC programs to win a national championship since the NCHC started competition in 2013.

The Grand Forks Herald’s Brad Schlossman recently put together a great 3-part series on the founding of the NCHC. Some interesting insights were provided in the series including:

  • Peg Bradley Doppes meeting at a hotel near the Denver International Airport with North Dakota’s AD Brian Faison for the ‘Birth of the NCHC’.
  • Notre Dame’s involvement in the initial meetings and its verbal agreement to join the league.
  • The internal battle between ‘hockey invested’ schools and WCHA leadership which led to the exit.
  • How the league’s initial commissioner bailed four months into the job and how current commissioner Josh Fenton made the jump from Miami to NCHC.
  • Coaches’ concerns about the potential strength and dominance of NCHC  teams.

This is Part 3 of a three-part series on how the NCHC was formed and how it got to where it is today as college hockey’s dominant conference. PART 1 can be found here. PART 2 can be found here. PART 3 can be found here.

Photo: Courtesy of the Grand Forks Herald

14 thoughts on “Founding the NCHC as told by Brad Schlossman”

  1. This is flat-out superb behind-the-scenes reporting that cements a big part of college hockey’s recent history from rumor to record. Kudos to Brad for having the stones to write it and for his paper for having the vision to support him in running it, for an audience who cares about reading it.

    This certainly corroborates what I heard from insiders during those times – an epic battle between the small-minded, small-budgeted schools and the visionary schools, of which DU was clearly a leader with UND.

    The one key piece that might be missing was that the league may have had very early talks with Boston College and Boston University to gauge their interest in joining the league to make it a truly “National” conference, and their preference was to play their established, close-in eastern rivals. What a conference it might have been…

  2. Pretty visionary and bold to leave the comfort of the WCHA. Notre Dame would have been great. I also heard that DU explored BU and BC membership – the idea that the NCHC would be truly ‘National’ would have been a master stroke.

  3. 5b: Thanks for sharing Brad’s 3 part series. Compelling stuff indeed. Hopefully the other school fan bases in our league get to read it. Tough league with 8 schools committed to winning.

  4. As a prelude ,all of this action started a couple of years earlier when some Penn State alum donated many millions to build a first class hockey arena on campus and thereby get Penn. State into serious Div. 1 hockey. He had no idea but it was his Big Ten move that started it all

    Soon Minn. and Wisc. were drawn into serious discussions about a Big Ten conference. On and on it developed which caused this NCHC formation.

    Talk about unintended consequences!! But in the end positive results. One individual move and then two and then etc. etc.

    I can’t remember this guys name but he caused the entire multi league disruptions. .

  5. Excellent reporting, I remember talking to someone who spotted Peg and Ron in the Chicago airport when that meeting occurred while he was waiting for a flight. Obviously, Notre Dame wanted to have more control than the other schools which led to them not joining the NCHC and their failure as a member in Hockey East. I am glad that the NCHC was formed.

  6. You are right, John. Terry Pegula was the big donor at Penn State. And PSU going varsity in hockey forced the Big 10 to form in hockey, as the B10 conference bylaws require that if six member schools sponsor the same varsity sport, the Big 10 must form a conference for those members and those member schools must leave the prior conference to play under the Big 10 banner.

    In other words, the Big 10 had little choice once PSU joined. The NCHC was the right move at the time, although I’m sure DU would have preferred Notre Dame, BU and BC to some of the other schools that were later added to the NCHC.

  7. This is flat-out superb behind-the-scenes reporting that cements a big part of college hockey’s recent history from rumor to record. Kudos to Brad for having the stones to write it and for his paper for having the vision to support him in running it, for an audience who cares about reading it.

    This certainly corroborates what I heard from insiders during those times – an epic battle between the small-minded, small-budgeted schools and the visionary schools, of which DU was clearly a leader with UND.

    The one key piece that might be missing was that the league may have had very early talks with Boston College and Boston University to gauge their interest in joining the league to make it a truly “National” conference, and their preference was to play their established, close-in eastern rivals. What a conference it might have been…

  8. Pretty visionary and bold to leave the comfort of the WCHA. Notre Dame would have been great. I also heard that DU explored BU and BC membership – the idea that the NCHC would be truly ‘National’ would have been a master stroke.

  9. 5b: Thanks for sharing Brad’s 3 part series. Compelling stuff indeed. Hopefully the other school fan bases in our league get to read it. Tough league with 8 schools committed to winning.

  10. As a prelude ,all of this action started a couple of years earlier when some Penn State alum donated many millions to build a first class hockey arena on campus and thereby get Penn. State into serious Div. 1 hockey. He had no idea but it was his Big Ten move that started it all

    Soon Minn. and Wisc. were drawn into serious discussions about a Big Ten conference. On and on it developed which caused this NCHC formation.

    Talk about unintended consequences!! But in the end positive results. One individual move and then two and then etc. etc.

    I can’t remember this guys name but he caused the entire multi league disruptions. .

  11. Excellent reporting, I remember talking to someone who spotted Peg and Ron in the Chicago airport when that meeting occurred while he was waiting for a flight. Obviously, Notre Dame wanted to have more control than the other schools which led to them not joining the NCHC and their failure as a member in Hockey East. I am glad that the NCHC was formed.

  12. You are right, John. Terry Pegula was the big donor at Penn State. And PSU going varsity in hockey forced the Big 10 to form in hockey, as the B10 conference bylaws require that if six member schools sponsor the same varsity sport, the Big 10 must form a conference for those members and those member schools must leave the prior conference to play under the Big 10 banner.

    In other words, the Big 10 had little choice once PSU joined. The NCHC was the right move at the time, although I’m sure DU would have preferred Notre Dame, BU and BC to some of the other schools that were later added to the NCHC.

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