Miami Sees Changes in NCHC Governance & Will Resist Arizona State Membership

Before last weekend’s DU men’s hockey series against the Miami Redhawks at Magness Arena, we came across an interesting article in the View From The Glass blog interview with Miami Athletic Director David Sayler. In a frank discussion, Sayler covered a number of topics including conference affiliation, structural challenges to the NCHC, and the decision on whether to add Arizona State to the NCHC. Here is a summary of the interview:

  • The days of the one-sport conferences are numbered due to the decreased role of the NCAA and the increased role of administration and governance at the conference level. Sayler envisions the Summit League and the Mid American Conference (MAC) as two possible landing sites for midwest hockey teams. Ideally, he sees the NCHC moving together but there are some concerns. Said Sayler: “Long term, I think the thing to really watch for is: Will the Summit League want to sponsor hockey – which is an all-sport Division I conference? Will the MAC consider sponsoring hockey, which is an all-sport conference that we can populate?” Sayler said. “Those are things in the future that if single-sport conferences don’t really have a place, those D-2 and D-3 schools would really benefit from being in an all-sport conference because of all these things (administrative requirements) that are coming down from the NCAA.”
  • Sayler also voices concerns about the conference’s regional dependence on Minnesota schools along with North Dakota at the NCHC Frozen Faceoff where much of the conference revenue is derived.  Sayler calls a season like this year a ‘doomsday scenario’ with non-regional schools in the top four (Denver, Omaha, Colorado College). As other schools improve outside of these Minnesota & North Dakota schools, the conference is actually disadvantaged during the conference tournament at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.
  • Adding Arizona State is another issue addressed by Sayler – and it looks like a deal breaker, at least from Miami’s point of view. “And there has been constant chatter about Arizona State, and I just have no interest in crossing another time zone to play sports. So if the league is going to continue to push that direction, that is certainly something that would cause us to think differently about what’s going on.” Ironically, Miami is traveling to Phoenix to play the Sun Devils next season.
  • Despite another rocky season (Denver has shut them out in three of the teams’ four matchups this year), Sayler mentioned the need for Miami hockey to improve under Chris Bergeron who is in the fourth season of a seven-year contract and for the first time will have an entire roster of players his staff brought in. “We’re going to keep Miami hockey in a strong position and keep growing it back to what it needs to be,” Sayler said. “That’s something I’m committed to.”

Sayler’s views may not be representative of every NCHC AD. Still, his interview provides some insight into the future structure of the NCHC and the resistance to adding Arizona State by at least one NCHC member. Be sure to check out the full feature over at View From The Glass.

Photo courtesy of Butler County Journal-News

11 thoughts on “Miami Sees Changes in NCHC Governance & Will Resist Arizona State Membership”

  1. Miami is Miami and will always be one of the two non western teams in the NCHC league. Their philosophy does not necessarily align with the likes of DU, North Dakota and UMD.

    There may come a time when the league says forget it – invites ASU – lures Minnesota over from the CCHA – and says good bye to W. Michigan and Miami.

    1. Miami needs to go. They were never a hockey school, just a school that lucked into a hot young coach for a decade. Before that they were historically mediocre or worse and seem to have slid right back to their historic norm. I see much more upside with ASU.

      Also, Miami is apparently very difficult to deal with. They think they’re Ohio State academically and athletically and expect everyone to bend to their wishes. It seems like their two in-state schools (OSU and Bowling Green) have frozen them off the schedule, and I don’t see any of their old CCHA rivals giving them regional out of conference games. That says a lot.

  2. Yuck to all of this.

    Miami is probably unhappy because the RedHawks are now the last-place doormat in the NCHC and hate flying its team around to get beat up, when they could be in a more competitive bus league like the CCHA. This is ironic since they were a hockey power school back when the league was formed 10 years ago and were one of the key players in forming the NCHC.

    All in all, this sounds all like a disturbing development, and may well be the reason former NCHC commish Josh Fenton bailed on the NCHC to helm the Summit League last year.

    If the Summit took on hockey and absorbed the NCHC schools, DU would have to go to it along with UND and Omaha, with D-II and D-III schools (UMD, St. Cloud and CC presumably become hockey affiliates for the Summit). St. Thomas would move their CCHA hockey team to the Summit as as a full Summit member in all sports.

    As MAC schools, WMU and Miami would not go to the Summit if the MAC took on hockey, along with MAC member Bowling Green, who would be forced to take its CCHA hockey program into the MAC. The MAC would probably take on a bunch more CCHA schools as affiliates to fill out the MAC hockey league, thus crushing the CCHA. Would the MAC hockey take on the Alaska schools as affiliates? Doubtful.

    Would the Summit compete with the MAC for more CCHA leftovers affiliates like Mankato and Bemidji to shore up the Summitt league as a Minnesota based regional league? Yuck again. The NCHC was formed as a national league to get away from those schools.

    But if the MAC decides not to sponsor hockey, then I could see Miami, WMU and Bowling Green going to the CCHA, replacing St. Thomas and Augustana.

    ASU can choose to join any league as a hockey affiliate or stay independent. Given their new rink and AZ location, the Sun Devils can attract 20-25 home games a year playing independent against great opponents as non-league games, as it’s is a desirable midwinter trip, so there is no real pressure on ASU to join any conference.

    All in all, this would be a hockey downgrade for DU to have to play St. Thomas instead of Miami (and WMU) each year…I would also hate to have to play Mankato and Bemidji, or Alaska schools in league play. For Denver, this realignment would offer downgrades instead of upgrades.

    I also hate the idea of hockey as a part of an all-sports conference, where non-hockey Summit schools like NDSU, SDSU, WIU, USD, Oral Roberts and UMKC would now have a conference vote on hockey matters, Josh Fenton notwithstanding. Whenever league cost cutting moves would be proposed, hockey would likely suffer.

    1. FYI, Augi isn’t in the Summit League and wouldn’t be included. Nobody wants them and they were already told no once before. St. Thomas also just announced a brand new 4K seat arena.

  3. Coming off of a 14-0 weekend series loss to Denver is probably not the best time to come across as whiny. Miami needs to fix itself to even be worthy of being in the NCHC. And fuck the Summit league, keep the NCHC as it is, for the good of college hockey.

  4. The MAC is short for the Mid-American Conference. Not Midwest Athletic Conference. Please get the facts straight.

    1. I disagree. I really like the Redhawks in the NCHC. They bring the Cincinnati market to the league and have a terrific arena, albeit small. Miami is a full D-I school with a rich athletic history, is also arguably the best academic University in the NCHC, tied with DU at #105 in the US News Rankings (CC is the most selective school in the league, but it’s a liberal arts college, and not a university)

      The Redhawks last won the NCHC tourney in 2015, and finished second to DU in the 2014 title game. They also came within an eyelash of the 2009 NCAA title falling to BU in OT in the title game. They also have made the NCAA tourney 12 times since 1993. But the program hit some recruiting ruts in the late Blasi years, and is trying to climb out under Bergeron.

  5. As other posters have mentioned, the timing of Sayler’s comments is a little curious, no? Miami is firmly stuck at the bottom of the NCHC with only two conference wins, is fresh off a series against DU in which they lost by an aggregate score of 14-0, is struggling to attract top recruits, and hasn’t had a notable posteason achievement in many years. Is Sayler worried that if/when ASU joins the NCHC, ASU will push them around as well? Read between the lines. I’m sure Sayler is very concerned about his program continuing to toil at or near the bottom, particularly if a newcomer such as ASU comes in and also finishes above Miami. I’d be concerned if I were him too.

    I have relatives in western Ohio who were Miami season ticket holders for a long time. They gave up their tickets a few years because, to paraphrase, “the product sucks and it’s not worth our time and money anymore.” I would say at this point Miami needs the NCHC much more than the NCHC needs Miami.

    Furthermore, aren’t there some PAC 12 schools considering adding hockey in the not-too-distant future? Oregon? Washington? Wouldn’t those schools be natural fits for an expanded NCHC, with or without Miami?

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