Miami Hockey’s Future May Be in Balance at Naples NCHC Meetings

Multiple sources are speculating on the departure of the Miami RedHawks and the addition of Arizona State to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC). A College Hockey News (CHN) article penned by Adam Wodon pleaded with the NCHC to Do the Right Thing, waive the one million dollar exit fee, and allow the RedHawks to escape to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA). The CCHA was the RedHawks’ conference home for 33 years before joining the NCHC and, on balance, is less challenging and a more cost-effective regional option for the floundering program that has stacked losing seasons upon losing seasons.

Wodon concluded that the first step in any changes is the resolution of the RedHawks’ status as a conference member going forward.

The Miami hockey blog View from the Glass is speculating the revamped CCHA might take Western Michigan in addition to Miami – WMU is currently hemorrhaging cash. The post suggests the possibility of the conference fielding two divisions, North & South.

The surprising takeaway from the View from the Glass article by John Lachmann is Western’s precarious financial position. Further research shows a shocking decline in enrollment at WMU over the last decade – an issue for many schools around the country.

WMU has become a competitive force and a valued member in the NCHC but the headwinds may be too much for the Broncos. Could they also exit the NCHC based on need rather than desire? Surely, they would immediately be a competitive force in the CCHA.

Here’s how a divisional structure could look for the conference:

Bemidji State
Michigan Tech
Minnesota State
Northern Michigan
St. Thomas
Bowling Green
Ferris State
Lake Superior State
Western Michigan

Teams might play four games against each divisional foe and two vs. opponents in the opposite division for a 26-game league schedule. Such a conference would provide regional and travel benefits to Miami and WMU.

Wodon pleads, “NCHC people — the athletic directors and school presidents of its member schools — should do the right thing here. Waive Miami’s exit fee.  Give a pleasant ‘goodbye, nice knowing you, best of luck in the future” and send them on their way, no strings attached.”

The annual NCHC meeting is taking place this week where a number of issues will be hashed out in meeting rooms, at the bar and on the golf course.

Ultimately, the NCHC could have two openings with ASU as one of the obvious options to fill a spot. The conference would likely have its pick of midwest hockey programs such as Minnesota State, St Thomas, and others should this occur. Added to the membership issue, is the growing consideration of merging the NCHC into the Summit League to mitigate operating costs on the NCHC which relies on its end-of-the-season tournament, The Frozen Faceoff, for the bulk of its revenue and financial stability.

These issues may be resolved shortly at this week’s Annual NCHC meeting in Naples, Florida with Conference coaches and athletic directors. These topics are sure to be near the top of the participants’ discussions.

7 thoughts on “Miami Hockey’s Future May Be in Balance at Naples NCHC Meetings”

  1. It does appear that Miami would be better off in the CCHA.
    I, for one, would like to see Minn. St., Ariz St. and maybe even Bemidji in the NCHC. However, I hope W. Mich can continue to remain (in spite of their old barn), as they have produced some very competitive teams.

    Looking down the road….

    The landscape and structure for college sports in general is going through a gigantic shift. With all the money being thrown around for NIL and the transfer portal being freely available and used, the future may not be pretty.

    Already players are ending up together on ‘stacked’ teams. Just take a look at the B1G. It also appears more and more likely that our athletes will become paid employees of the colleges and universities they attend. (This could also mean they can be hired and fired at will.)

    There is little doubt the Power 5 will survive. The question remains: What will the rest of us look like in 5 years?

    So, hang on to your hats sports fans…the future could be a wild ride!

  2. WMU isn’t in as precarious position as say St. Cloud. They also have Stryker money behind the program. That same family is constructing a new barn for the Broncos.

  3. Hard no to Minnesota State and Bemidji. These are two small market teams that the NCHC was formed precisely to get away from back in 2011-2013. The NCHC should not become a Minnesota bus league, and there are already three NCHC schools serving the Minnesota market in UMD, SCSU and UND (on the Minnesota border).

    ASU is a great potential addition – a big school, big city market, a great winter destination. I would have added the Sun Devils years ago.

    I hope the NCHC will hold onto Miami and WMU – big (by NCHC standards) MAC schools that serve serious population bases.

    Miami, serving Cincinnati, was critical in forming the NCHC – Josh Fenton worked there, Miami brought TV expertise (with CBSSN) to the conference, and also served as the NCHC’s bank during the formative years before the conference launched. The Redhawks were a strong program that has slipped on the ice of late, but could be strong again, and right now, provide lots of conference wins for other schools.

    WMU sits strategically between Chicago, Detroit and Grand Rapids, as well as bringing the state of Michigan into the league. The Broncos are a very good program on the ice, are building a new arena and have the best student section in the conference.

    1. Miami’s 2022 hockey budget was less than it was in 2013. The NCAA reports are posted on their website.

    2. Miami of Ohio is about an hour outside of Cincinnati, and Miami sports are a non-entity in the city. Besides being a pro town, Cincinnati follows Ohio State, U of Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Xavier, Kentucky and Northern Kentucky before they give a thought to Miami, and that’s for football and basketball. Hockey is an absolute non-entity.

      Miami of Ohio was a mistake from the beginning. They were a historically mediocre (or worse) program that happened to be riding a hot young coach at the right time. Their return to their historical norm was inevitable, and the competitiveness of the NCHC made that inevitable drop particularly extreme. Time to let them move down a level and try and rebuild their program.

  4. Despite that writer (Woodon?) lame plea to “PLEASE BE NICE TO POOR MIAMI”…Make Miami pay what they agreed to pay, which is justified with all the bitching they have done about getting their azzes handed to them in the NCHC. Add ASU, Miami pays their fee, and we move on. Nothing against Miami as a school. I used to have respect for them. But they are not fielding a strong enough team, have pretty much given up, and now just play the “poor me” card. So it’s an easy choice to replace them with ASU.

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