You may have recently read that Lindenwood and Southern Indiana are joining the Summit League as affiliate members for soccer and swimmming/diving. While this move does provide a buffer of eight soccer teams to the conference, it does nothing to improve Denver’s strength of schedule.
Lindenwood University from St. Charles, Missouri outside of St. Louis, also just added D1 hockey. As a bit of trivia, Lindenwood was one of two schools in the United States that had women’s ice hockey at D1, but not men’s. All Lindenwood home games will continue to be played at Centene Community Ice Center in Maryland Heights, Missouri, which is seven miles from campus and the Blues’ practice facility. The Lindenwood Lions will begin competition in non-hockey sports in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC)and eligible to compete for OVC championships in the 2022-2023 seasons for all 18 sponsored sports. No D1 hockey conference, yet.
Our friends at Augustana have landed a D1 conference for their hockey team, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) but are still looking for a landing spot for their Olympic sports. In October 2021, Augustana University officially broke ground on the future home to the Viking Men’s Hockey program — Midco Arena — a new 3,000+ seat hockey arena. Funding was facilitated by a lead gift from T. Denny Sanford and several other major donors, including Midco and Sanford Health supporting the new facility and program. Familiar friends, right? They begin play in 2023-24. The Ohio Valley Conference, facing an exodus of members, might be a fallback option for the Vikings as the OVC appears to be looking for new members. The OVC proved there are limits totheir generosity as they turned down lowly Chicago State who exited the WAC without a landing spot.
Austin Peay, Murray State, and Belmont just exited the OVC and were replaced by Arkansas-Little Rock, Lindenwood and the University of Southern Illinois. Rumors continue to swirl that Western Illinois may join the conference in all sports, including football, to play more regional teams such as Eastern Illinois, Southern Illinois, Morehead State, and Southeast Missouri State. But then again, with the OVC stability being questioned, some insiders are speculating that the Summit League may actually be courting some of the OVC Illinois members to bolster conference membership.
BYU is scheduled to move from the West Coast Conference (WCC) to the Big 12 in 2023-24, though as mentioned, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the Cougars could relocate for everything other than football (which is effectively bound by existing schedule commitments to remain an independent in 2022) by 2022-23. The conference sits at nine members but is taking its time, likely exploring the option of adding either Denver or Seattle U.
That leaves Seattle University and Grand Canyon which are the only two WAC programs without football. Both are looking for new conferences. As we have mentioned numerous times before it is critical that the University of Denver find a conference with similar like-minded private Universities that face many of the same issues going forward (NIL, scholarship levels, athletic support, institutional and academic alignment). Let’s hope DU’s new AD feels the same way.
The positive news in all this? Augustana didn’t get into the NCHC.