Bemidji State’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association membership bid on hold

BEMIDJI, Minn. — Bruce McLeod, commissioner of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, announced today that the association has declined to vote on Bemidji State University’s application for membership on behalf of its NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey program.

The association announced it will remain at 10 teams but will immediately and indefinitely lift its moratorium on expansion in the hopes of seeking a potential partner for Bemidji State, which would bring the association’s membership to 12. McLeod indicated a 12-team league as the assocation’s preference as it looks toward future expansion, based on a variety of factors from scheduling to finances.

The University had presented its case for membership yesterday during the association’s annual meeting in Marco Island, Fla.

McLeod indicated the WCHA would move as quickly as possible to identify a potential 12th member, stating a personal preference to have the process completed by mid-summer.

“We’re supportive of the WCHA’s decision to delay its vote on our membership application as it seeks a potential 12th member,” Director of Athletics Dr. Rick Goeb said. “We received extremely positive feedback from the WCHA following our presentation yesterday and are confident that we solidified our candidacy for membership in the conference.

“Bemidji State has strong support from our alumni, friends and fans; we’re moving into an elite college hockey facility for the 2010-11 season; and we have a battle-tested Division I program that has proven its ability to compete nationally,” Goeb added. “We have what the WCHA wants in a quality member.”

“The presentation made by Bemidji State was viewed positively and was very professionally done,” McLeod said during a teleconference this afternoon. “Everybody did a terrific job. The community of Bemidji and the region of north-central Minnesota should be very proud of what they put on the table for the WCHA.”

“I am grateful to Commissioner McLeod for this opportunity to share Bemidji State University’s story with the WCHA,” Bemidji State President Dr. Jon Quistgaard said. “We came to Florida to show the WCHA that we have a strong program and strong support for that program, and every indication is that we did our job. We intend to continue pursuing membership and have confidence that we’ll soon realize the University’s dream of membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.”

“We have been patient for 10 years; what’s a few more months?” Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore said. “I’m confident the WCHA will be able to find a 12th member, and I feel very confident where we stand with the WCHA. All we need to do is be patient and things will work out.”

Bemidji State’s men’s ice hockey program is a member of the four-team College Hockey America conference, where it has made its home since the league was founded in 1999-2000. College Hockey America dropped to four members for the 2008-09 season and will disband following the 2009-10 season, when Niagara University and Robert Morris University will depart for Atlantic Hockey.

The Bemidji State women’s ice hockey program has been a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association women’s league since its inception in 1999-2000.

About the Western Collegiate Hockey Association
The Western Collegiate Hockey Association is a 10-team NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey conference which includes the University of North Dakota; University of Minnesota; Minnesota State University, Mankato; the University of Minnesota, Duluth; St. Cloud (Minn.) State University; Michigan Technological University; the University of Wisconsin; Colorado College; the University of Denver; and the University of Alaska Anchorage. The WCHA is headquartered in Denver, Colo.

About College Hockey America
College Hockey America is a four-team NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey conference which includes the University of Alabama-Huntsville, Bemidji (Minn.) State University; Robert Morris University; and Niagara University. Ala.-Huntsville, Bemidji State and Niagara were inaugural members of the league and have been members since 1999-2000; Robert Morris joined in 2004-05.