Super League Catches Minnesota AD Off Guard

(left) University of Minnesota Athletic Director Joel Maturi set the wheels in motion for the Super League when Minnesota left for the Big Ten Hockey Conference

by Mike Bialka

In a few years college hockey may be almost unrecognizable.

Earlier this year the Big Ten announced it would form a hockey conference in two seasons, with Minnesota and Wisconsin leaving the 50-year-old WCHA to play with Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State.

On Thursday, reports surfaced that the WCHA will lose five more schools to a new league in two years. The Grand Forks Herald reported Thursday that Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota will leave to join Miami University in the so-called Super League.

The newspaper also reported the new league, which might also include Notre Dame, is expected to be announced Wednesday. The new league would leave the WCHA with five teams — Alaska Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State Mankato and St. Cloud State.

University of Minnesota athletics director Joel Maturi, in an interview believed a Big Ten hockey conference was inevitable.

“Today it’s a business, it’s about television, it’s about access,” Maturi said.

“I was a little surprised, to be honest, that other teams would leave the WCHA and form a conference on their own,” he added. “I understand the logic. I’m certainly respectful of those institutions. I just hope the sport of hockey hangs in there with those teams. They’re either going to have to join the remaining CCHA and WCHA teams and form a conference.

“The sport of hockey has been good to me, and certainly to the state of Minnesota. Coach (Don) Lucia and I are going to meet Tuesday to discuss our non-conference schedule. We would like to continue to play our in-state rivals on an annual basis if at all possible.”


Aluuum said...

I think this is the same Maturi who was A.D. here at D.U. during Backstrom's time.

Ring_of_Fire said...

Wasn't Minny anti-BTHC all along?

I seem to recall some unofficial rumblings that "The U" would have preferred keeping the WCHA intact in order to preserve intrastate conference rivalries with the other Minnesota schools...

Anonymous said...

Maturi was DU AD in 1996-1998, helping DU become full D-I. He left to go to Miami of Ohio as AD in 1998, and joined Minnesota as AD in 2002.

He went to Notre Dame and also was assistant AD at Wisconsin before joining DU. Maturi is in a good position to know the issues in college hockey.

Anonymous said...

I really have to say this. If anybody EVER gets angry 10 years down the road that college hockey was ruined by these two power conferences, the full weight of the blame goes to the Big Ten. If they hadn't stuck their noses in this whole thing and insisted on creating their own special conference, none of this would be happening. I'm psyched to see DU potentially playing in what would be the most competitive conference in college hockey, but if the WCHA eventually ceases to exist, I'll be very angry at the Big Ten.

dggoddard said...

There is plenty of blame to go around and DU will have to accept their fair share.

The one myth that is floating out there is that Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan "had" to form Big Ten hockey conference. The fact of the matter is the Big Ten school presidents voted to form the conference.

As it turned out Michigan should have said "no" because ultimately the Michigan schools and towns are going to be adversely affected by this the most. The Minnesota schools will be fine.

Jordan said...

I may remember wrong, but I think according to Big 10 bylaws, once there's enough teams in any given sport for a conference tournament, they are bound to forming their own conference and the schools don't have much of a choice.

dggoddard said...

That's the myth. The presidents still had to vote on it and any by-law can always be over-ridden with a vote.

Likely the vote was just a formality because Penn State wouldn't have gotten the $88 million without the "wink-wink" from the Big Ten schools.

Jordan said...


Jordan said...

So then, Minnesota really could have been forced into it, especially since Penn St. and Ohio St. don't have much history locking them to a league and perhaps Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin wanted more money. Would the non-hockey Big 10 Schools still have had a say?

dggoddard said...

I don't doubt that Minnesota was forced into it, but its doubtful they would have stood up when Penn State said, "We have a big donor on the hook."

Lucia knew the Super League was a possibility, but judging from the the article the speed and swiftness of the league formation must have caused an "Uh Oh" moment.