March 21, 2011
MADISON, Wis. – The Western Collegiate Hockey Association today issued the following statement from Commissioner Bruce M. McLeod following an announcement from the Big Ten conference that they intend to form a men's ice hockey league beginning with the 2013-14 season.
"Today's announcement from the Big Ten conference has been anticipated for some time now," said Commissioner McLeod, "and this will obviously have an impact on the WCHA. But change creates opportunity, too. The timeline of this Association spans seven decades and has included expansion and contraction on numerous occasions, but the success of this organization has remained constant. The commitment to excellence by our member institutions will not waver and working together we will push forward to assure our future remains bright."
Earlier today, the directors of athletics of Big Ten-member institutions that sponsor men's ice hockey announced their intention to recommend to the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors in June the establishment of men's ice hockey as an official conference sport for the 2013-14 academic year with participation by Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin.
Minnesota was an original founding member of the WCHA, together forming the seven-member Midwest Collegiate Hockey League (MCHL) for the 1951-52 season with Colorado College, University of Denver, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University and University of North Dakota. The MCHL then evolved into the Western Intercollegiate Hockey League (WIHL) for the 1953-54 season and then was renamed the Western Collegiate Hockey Association for the 1959-60 season. Wisconsin was granted admission into the WCHA beginning with the 1969-70 campaign.
For the 1965-66 season, the WCHA added the University of Minnesota Duluth as an eighth member team. Wisconsin came on board for the 1969-70 season, followed by the addition of University of Notre Dame for 1971-72. Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech and Notre Dame then left the WCHA following the 1980-81 season to join the CCHA, reducing the WCHA to six teams from 1981-84. For 1984-85, Michigan Tech returned to the WCHA 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 University of Alaska Anchorage as a 10th member for the 1993-94 season. Northern Michigan then left the WCHA again 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. Then beginning with this 2010-11 season, Bemidji State University and University of Nebraska Omaha joined the WCHA to bring membership to 12 teams.
Home to a record 36 national championship teams since 1951, the WCHA is marking it's 59th season of competition in 2010-11.