The National Association of Intercollegiate Hockey is now part of the college hockey scene, as of an announcement on its website yesterday.
A new men’s collegiate ice hockey association – under the working title of National Association of Intercollegiate Hockey has formally established in the United States, with play beginning in the fall of 2011. Initial schools will include the non-varsity teams at Brandeis University, Clarkson University, Dartmouth College, Hobart College, Middlesex Community College, Saint Lawrence University, Southern New Hampshire University, SUNY Canton, Union College, Wheeling Jesuit University, and Yale University.It's important to note that "SUNY Canton" is not the same team that currently competes in ACHA Division 1. The NAIH's Union entry is the former ACHA Division 3 team, making the Dutchmen club the first ACHA-to-NAIH defection. The remaining NAIH members were not in the ACHA.
The formation of the National Association of Intercollegiate Hockey has no membership dues or any fees to be a member and encourages members of existing associations to join the new association immediately. The association is open to 2 and 4 year schools throughout North America. The association will not hold a national tournament in the initial year but plans to hold at least one tournament next year with the possibility of the annual Fall Classic, Regional Tournaments, and National Tournaments in the future. All the members of the association will operate independently.
Members of the new association will not experience any changes in the initial year. The goal of the association is every game to be played under one rule book, follow a single manual for operations procedures, and playing for a national championship. The association formation is driven by the rising cost of being a member of another association.
The association operations will focus on cost-containment and shared communications efficiencies. The association will implement a comprehensive marketing and branding campaign leading up to the 2011 launch date.
Speaking of competing, how about that shot across the bow of "another association," as related to membership dues (incidentally, ACHA dues for D1 are $1600 this season)? Other features of the NAIH, according to its Twitter account, may include eligibility for former major junior players, computer rankings and programs outside the United States. If they pull all of that off, it's not hard to see the appeal in that sort of a product, and their membership may quickly grow beyond 11 low-level organizations.
I suppose you could file this all under "no longer our problem," but it will still be an interesting development to follow. It's far, far too early to even guess as to how this all plays out, but it is worth mentioning that in two days of existence the NAIH already has a far better website than the ACHA and is about 20 times as savvy with social media. Besides, how many ACHA members are completely satisfied with the association?