Penn State plans to start up a Division I hockey program, build an 8,000 seat arena and the announcement is expected to come this week. The announcement could come Friday according to insidecollegehockey.com, which first reported the story Sunday night.
What makes this report matter is the case for the often-rumored formation of a Big 10 Hockey Conference. Penn State would be the sixth Big 10 hockey program, the minimum number needed for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLoed said this to INCH:
“It is great for the sport,” WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod said, while stopping short of confirming the plans. “A program of that stature to potentially add a Division I men’s hockey program is an exciting thing for the sport.”
If the Big 10 Hockey Conference happens, Penn State would join WCHA schools Minnesota and Wisconsin along with CCHA schools Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. That would obviously leave some voids in both those conferences. That Big 10 Hockey conference would also probably find programming time on the lucrative Big 10 Network. The BTN is currently worth about $70 million in profits to Big 10 schools.
The Internet is buzzing with some news items on the development.
Duluth News Tribune sports reporter Kevin Pates, beat reporter for Minnesota-Duluth Hockey, is reporting WCHA coaches were notified of the impending announcement last week at league meetings.
“WCHA meetings were held in Bloomington, Minn., last weekend and it’s believed men’s and women’s coaches were told of the impending Penn State announcement, and WCHA athletic directors will talk later this month about the ramifications of losing two star-quality programs like Wisconsin and Minnesota. It’s believed the Big Ten discussed the situation at league meetings in August in Chicago.”
Todd Milewski, the executive editor of United States College Hockey Online, wrote this on his Twitter page:
“I hear that when WCHA met last week, talk was about potential 2014-15 start for Big Ten hockey. They want to be ready.”
You can read Milewski’s report at USCHO.
USCHO’s Dave Starman explains the possible ramifications in a commentary piece, which you can read here.
What does this all mean for Bemidji State hockey?
Nothing at the moment. Until if and when the Big 10 Hockey Conference is formed, everything out there is speculation and it’s been going on for years.
If the Big 10 league is formed, obviously Minnesota and Wisconsin wouldn’t be on the league schedule. If the Big 10 league is formed, there could be other conference realignments, and, where does Huntsville fit in all of this?
Right now there’s no denying the Penn State report. When the school makes the formal announcement, the Big 10 option will have more traction than it ever has in the past.