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