MADISON, Wis. (Blugolds.com) - The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) announced today that its men's and women's ice hockey teams will be leaving the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) and will compete solely under the auspices of the WIAC effective with the 2014-15 academic year.
WIAC Commissioner Gary Karner stated that the decision to leave the NCHA is a difficult one given the history and success of the league and the relationships and rivalries that have been fostered over the years. UW-Eau Claire, UW-River Falls and UW-Superior are charter members of the men's NCHA which was formed in 1980 (UW-Stevens Point and UW-Stout joined the NCHA in 1987 and 1996, respectively) and these same three institutions along with UW-Stevens Point formed the women's NCHA in 2000.
Nonetheless, Karner noted that the current budgetary challenges confronting all WIAC institutions and the composition of the NCHA (a single-sport conference comprised of institutions that are members of six different multi-sport conferences as well as five institutions that are members for women's ice hockey only) were among a number of factors that led to a decision that is deemed to be in the long-term, best interests of the WIAC.
Karner commented that the WIAC elected to make the announcement at this time in order to provide all current NCHA members ample opportunity to determine future conference alignments and to address scheduling concerns. "We (WIAC) recognize that our decision to withdraw from the NCHA will have a profound impact on the future of that conference. Out of respect for the non-WIAC member institutions of the NCHA, we had no interest in leaving the conference without providing sufficient notice and it is our intention to engage in a dialogue over the next two years that will ensure the viability of Division III men's and women's ice hockey in the upper Midwest for many years to come", added Karner.
The WIAC is comprised of nine prominent NCAA Division III institutions from within the University of Wisconsin System including UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Stout, UW-Superior and UW-Whitewater.