Lucia Confirms Likelihood of Big-10 Conference

(above) University of Minnesota coach Don Lucia confirms likelihood of a Big-10 Hockey Conference

From: Pioneer Press
by John Shipley

The University of Minnesota men's hockey team has been a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association since the league was founded in 1951. It has been a good relationship, helping the Gophers build traditional rivalries and win five national championships.

But the relationship might be coming to an end.

If Penn State adds Division I men's and women's hockey, the Big Ten will have enough teams under NCAA rules to form a men's hockey conference. That might be too much for any conference — particularly one looking for programming on its own cable network — to ignore.

"I think it's safe to say that if Penn State is adding hockey, it's to play other Big Ten schools," Minnesota coach Don Lucia said Tuesday.

Those schools would be Minnesota and Wisconsin of the WCHA, and Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. It all hinges on whether Penn State makes the jump from the club level to Division I, an unlikely move for most schools.

Lucia, whose Gophers begin practice today, is entering his 18th season as a WCHA head coach, starting at Colorado College in 1993. He has been with Minnesota since 1999. He said Minnesota has "resisted as much as we've been able, but it's looking more likely — if Penn State adds hockey — that we'll get together and play more often."

"Who knows?" he added. "It's up to the athletic directors and commissioner to determine that. If Wisconsin and Minnesota leave, the WCHA still has 10 great schools committed to hockey. That does not change."

WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod said he is waiting to hear from Penn State, and subsequently the Big Ten, before making any detailed comments.

"Having said that," he added, "we're well aware of developing circumstances at Penn State, and we've definitely done our homework regarding several scenarios that could play out."

None of this would happen overnight, of course, with most speculation resting on the 2014-15 season. "It's years from happening," Lucia said. "They have to build a facility and get the program up to status quo, and that will take a number of years."

There is some concern, however, that a new conference would fracture a delicate balance. While the WCHA would suffer from losing Minnesota and Wisconsin, the CCHA could be devastated by the loss of Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, the league's biggest schools and biggest names outside of 2008 national runner-up Notre Dame.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Lucia is gay

Anonymous said...

In the eyes of a gopher fan for 22 years, the move to a big ten conference would suck. The tradition, playing teams like cc, no dak, and certainly du would be missed to play club level penn st, ohio st and any team from michigan. It would be like going back to mighty mites, which may not hurt from how we have play the last coule of years.