Adam Wodon from the College Hockey News has confirmed that Penn State University is going to form a Division I Hockey team and that the announcement will be made this Friday.
Pioneer Press — 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.”
Creating a Big Ten men’s hockey conference would give the fledgling Big Ten Network some live programming on Friday nights, when men’s basketball teams typically don’t play.
“That’s some major programming on Friday nights,” Lucia said.
The WCHA is getting ready to play its first season with 12 teams, having just added Bemidji State and Nebraska-Omaha to a roster that includes the Gophers, Badgers, Minnesota-Duluth, St. Cloud State, Minnesota State Mankato, North Dakota, Colorado College, Denver, Alaska Anchorage and Michigan Tech.
The conference boasted more than 1.5 million in attendance last season, and had the top three home attendance marks in the nation — Wisconsin (15,048 per game), North Dakota (11,654) and Minnesota (10,107).
Minnesota, with enrollment of 51,659, and Wisconsin (42,099) are the league’s largest schools and have 11 national titles between them, but Denver (7), North Dakota (7), Michigan Tech (3) and Colorado College (2) also have won NCAA championships.
“The WCHA brand is very strong. People in hockey know we’re a strong league,” UMD athletics director Bob Nielson said. “At the same time, you never want to lose a rivalry because of the interest it generates.”
Don Lucia’s comment about the television programming for Friday nights is a bit of a head scratcher. Seriously! What is stopping the Big Ten now? All the BTN has to do is start showing hockey on Friday’s, what is preventing them from showing hockey now? Why do they need a league to show BTHC hockey on Friday night?