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WCHA Press Releases
January 17, 2013
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WCHA Grants Full-Time Membership to University of Alabama in Huntsville
Chargers to Become 10th Full-Time Member of Men's League
The University of Alabama in Huntsville will join the WCHA

MADISON, Wis. The Western Collegiate Hockey Association men's membership voted today (January 17) to admit the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) as a full-time men's conference member. The vote of approval was taken after UAH submitted an application for membership and made a formal presentation to a WCHA group of member-team Presidents and Athletic Directors at a meeting held in conjunction with the NCAA Convention in Dallas, Tex.

The addition of University of Alabama in Huntsville into college hockey's most historic and successful conference will bring future men's league membership to 10 teams. Their membership will be effective as soon as 2013-14.

WCHA men's membership in 2013-14 currently consists of University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bemidji State University, Bowling Green State University, Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University, Minnesota State University, Mankato and Northern Michigan University.

In issuing a joint statement on behalf of the Association, Dr. Richard Davenport, President of Minnesota State University, Mankato and Chair of the WCHA President's Group, and Bruce McLeod, Commissioner of the WCHA, said "The WCHA is delighted to have reached in principle an agreement to officially welcome University of Alabama in Huntsville into the Association family as a full-time men's member. This is a significant day for the Chargers, the community of Huntsville, the conference itself, and college hockey in general. Growing the game and assisting developing programs however possible has always been a charge of the WCHA and this is another positive evolution in our history.

"Each of our member institutions are 100% committed to keeping the WCHA among the premier conferences in all of collegiate athletics and our respective ice hockey programs both strong and vibrant. The University of Alabama in Huntsville is a dynamic, top-quality institution with an excellent academic and athletic reputation and without question the Chargers are going to be a great fit and a successful, contributing member.

"Just as the entire UAH campus and the Huntsville community are exhilarated to now have a welcoming home for their men's hockey program, the WCHA is also extremely proud and gratified to be providing that home."

Said University of Alabama in Huntsville President Robert Altenkirch, "We're pleased that our ice hockey team is going to have the opportunity to compete and grow in a NCAA Division 1 conference. We believe that our affiliation with the Western Collegiate Hockey Association will be a tremendous boost to our recruiting, scheduling and our ability to be competitive on the ice.

"We want to thank the WCHA and its member institutions for their confidence in allowing us to be a part of their conference. Their affirmative vote will invigorate our ability to maintain our great hockey tradition."

UAH Director of Athletics Dr. E.J. Brophy said, "All athletic programs experience special defining moments, and our hockey program's acceptance today into the Western Collegiate Hockey Association is certainly one of those moments. The WCHA is a preeminent hockey conference in America, and I know that our student-athletes, coaches, fans, friends, alums and the people of Huntsville are ecstatic and proud of this giant step for our ice hockey program.

"The last time we were in a conference, we won the conference tournament and advanced to the NCAA tournament, which will be our immediate and ambitious goal when we begin play in the WCHA. It is a banner day for the Chargers."

The men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association, home to a record 37 national championships teams since it's founding in 1951, has been operating as a 12-team conference for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. Current members are University of Alaska Anchorage, Bemidji State University, Colorado College, University of Denver, Michigan Technological University, University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State University, University of Nebraska Omaha, University of North Dakota, St. Cloud State University and University of Wisconsin.

On March 21, 2011, the Big Ten Conference announced the formation of a new Division 1 men's college hockey league that would include current WCHA-members Minnesota and Wisconsin and begin play in 2013-14. On July 13, 2012, Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota Duluth, Nebraska Omaha and North Dakota announced they would be leaving the WCHA following the 2012-13 season to form another new league, known as the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, which also begins play in 2013-14. Then on Sept. 22, 2011, St. Cloud State announced they were leaving the WCHA for the NCHC.

About University of Alabama in Huntsville

UAH's Research Activity Benefits Students' Educational Experience

The University of Alabama in Huntsville removes barriers between teaching and research. Professors take their research into the classroom, and the university brings students into its world-class, cutting-edge research laboratories.

Undergraduate students are involved in research projects in all departments, from building experiments for suborbital rockets to developing special optical lenses, excavating dinosaur bones, or traveling to tropical jungles to find medical uses for plants.

Because learning doesn't stop at the classroom door, UAHuntsville students build satellites, help high-tech industry solve real-life management and marketing problems, and work with patients in some of the most modern medical facilities in the region.

The university thrives on the synergy created by academia, government and business that exists in Huntsville, which is enhanced by serving as the anchor tenant in Cummings Research Park, the second largest research park in America. The university complements the R&D needs of local industry as well as NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and major Army laboratories.

The university's academic and research reputation has been recognized nationally. UAHuntsville is the only public institution in Alabama to be rated a "very competitive" university by Barron's Profile of American Colleges and Universities. The Carnegie Foundation has placed UAHuntsville into its "very high research" category only 73 public universities in the nation are included in this ranking.

Students should also consider these facts when looking at UAHuntsville:

  • Fourteen research areas at UAHuntsville are in the Top 20 nationally, and four in the Top 10: NASA computer science R&D (2nd), DoD social sciences (4th); DoD computer science (8th) and federally funded R&D in aerospace engineering (9th), according to the National Science Foundation.
  • UAHuntsville is ranked by U.S. News &World Report among Tier 1 national universities a distinction shared by less than 10 percent of the more than 2,000 four-year colleges in America.
  • UAHuntsville was named as one of the best 50 educational values in America by USA Today in 2010.
  • UAHuntsville graduates earn the third highest mid-career salaries in the southeastern U.S., trailing only Georgia Tech and Florida.
"The research of the university and its Ph.D. programs, with its concentration in engineering and science, has made us nationally and internationally visible," says President Bob Altenkirch. "Our companion programs in business, liberal arts and nursing reach levels of excellence within our region."

The university's research activities produce close working relationships between faculty and students. The university gives students opportunities to apply their education in real-life job situations. More than 100 businesses, industries and government agencies provide students with hands-on experience and often, permanent employment through our cooperative education program, one of the largest programs in the southeastern U.S.

The university provides activities outside the classroom such as intramural and intercollegiate sports, fraternities and sororities, choir and music ensembles and theater productions.

The university has more than 115 clubs and organizations, including the World Issues Society, Circle K, the Society for Ancient Languages, the Association for Campus Entertainment, the Student Government Association and professionally oriented clubs and societies in almost every discipline. Greek life ranges from social activities to service projects for local and national charities. Six fraternities and five sororities are nationally recognized at UAHuntsville.

Athletics are a highly charged blend of competitiveness and the ideal of the student-athlete. The university is home to 17 NCAA men's and women's sports programs.

It took a unique community like Huntsville to create a university like UAHuntsville. In many ways, the university is a reflection of the needs of the high-tech Huntsville community.

"UAHuntsville is the result of the special character of Huntsville," says President Altenkirch. "The interaction among the university, federal agencies and the community is crucial to our success, and that success is translated into success for our students and graduates."

About UAH Hockey

The University of Alabama in Huntsville hockey program has been playing as an NCAA Division I independent since the end of the 2009-10 season following the dissolution of the CHA (College Hockey America). The program was dropped back to club status for a brief stint in the spring of 2012, and then revived a short time later. The program struggled to fill a 2012-13 schedule, as previously scheduled teams dropped UAH upon the canceling of the program.

Known as the "Hockey Capital of the South," UAH has been playing NCAA hockey since 1985. The program won two NCAA Division II Championships in the mid-1990's, before Div. II hockey was dropped. The program has seen massive facility upgrades, as well as a new coaching staff with professional experience and high expectations. UAH has made an appearance in six NCAA Tournaments and is currently the only DI hockey program without a home in 2013-14.

For a complete history of UAH hockey, please click here.

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History of WCHA Expansion and Contraction

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association was founded in 1951 and began play for the 1951-52 season as the Midwest Collegiate Hockey League (MCHL) with the seven original members being Colorado College, University of Denver, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, University of Minnesota and University of North Dakota.

Following the 1952-53 season, the MCHL evolved into the Western Intercollegiate Hockey League (WIHL) for 1953-54, maintaining the same original seven member teams. The conference continued play through the 1957-58 campaign.

There was no league play in 1958-59 after the WIHL was disbanded in March of 1958 for one season; however most of the original member teams continued to play home-and-home schedules. The seven original member teams then resumed formal league competition for the 1959-60 season under the new name Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).

For the 1965-66 season, the WCHA expanded to eight teams by adding the University of Minnesota Duluth. The University of Wisconsin was then admitted to the WCHA for the 1969-70 season to bring membership to nine teams, followed by the addition of University of Notre Dame for the 1971-72 campaign which upped the membership to 10 teams.

Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech and Notre Dame then left the WCHA following the 1980-81 season to join the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), reducing the WCHA to six teams for the 1981-82, 1982-83 and 1983-84 campaigns.

Michigan Tech then returned to the WCHA beginning with the 1984-85 season and together with newly admitted member Northern Michigan University, brought league membership back to eight teams.

The WCHA then admitted St. Cloud State University as a ninth member for the 1990-91 season, followed by the inclusion of University of Alaska Anchorage as a 10th member for the 1993-94 season.

Northern Michigan then left the WCHA following the 1996-97 season to rejoin the CCHA. The WCHA then expanded again for the 1999-2000 season with the admittance of Minnesota State University, Mankato as a 10th member.

For the 2010-11 season, Bemidji State University and the University of Nebraska Omaha were granted admission to the WCHA to bring men's membership to 12 teams, where it remains through the end of the 2012-13 campaign.

In 2013-14, the WCHA will usher in another new era with a league that will include University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bemidji State University, Bowling Green State University, Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University, Minnesota State University, Mankato and Northern Michigan University. On January 17, 2013, University of Alabama in Huntsville was granted full-time membership in the men's WCHA.