In an announcement that carried roughly the same amount of suspense as Penn State's similar announcement on September 6th, Lindenwood University has officially joined College Hockey America, effective next season.
The Lady Lions, as is well known by now, are a former ACHA power. The four-time (2006, 2008-2010) national champions are playing their first season in NCAA Division I as an independent. Next year they'll join the CHA just in time for Penn State's jump both to that level and that conference. PSU and LU will combine with Mercyhurst, Niagara, Robert Morris and Syracuse to form a six-team loop.
Here are the pertinent quotes from Friday's announcement, starting with commissioner Robert DeGregorio:
“The CHA membership was very happy when we received the formal letter of applications from Lindenwood University. The CHA directors voted unanimously to proceed with the application process and as a result I scheduled an official visit at Lindenwood University on October 28 and 29, 2011. As part of the process I met with the President of the University as well as the Director of Athletics and all other administrators on the campus that are directly involved in Lindenwood's Women's Ice Hockey program.”LU athletic director John Creer:
"This is a historic and landmark day for our Women's Ice Hockey program. We really feel honored to have the opportunity to join with the other outstanding members of the prestigious CHA. Joining the CHA provides visibility and name recognition, and legitimizes where we are going with our hockey program. I believe being a part of the conference will motivate and challenge our student-athletes, and hopefully some great rivalries will quickly emerge."Head coach Vince O'Mara:
"We are very honored to have been accepted into College Hockey America. This is a very exciting time for all of the member institutions. With the announcement of adding Penn State and now Lindenwood, things are really looking up. We know that we have a lot of hard work ahead of us to be able to compete with the strong programs in the CHA, and we are ready and looking forward to that hard work.”The now-six members in the CHA will eventually allow the conference to obtain an autobid to the NCAA tournament. However, according to NCAA bylaw 18.104.22.168, the autobid will not kick in until the 2014-2015 season. Here's how that bylaw reads, in full (large PDF link).
22.214.171.124 Requirements—National Collegiate Championship. [#] To be eligible for automatic qualification in a National Collegiate Championship, a member conference must meet the following general requirements:Related posts:
(Adopted: 1/9/06 effective 8/1/06)
(a) Have at least six active members that sponsor the applicable sport in any division (Note: A provisional member in the process of becoming an NCAA member cannot be used to meet the requisite number.);
(b) The six active members must have conducted conference competition together for the preceding two years in the applicable sport;
(c) There shall be no waivers of the two-year waiting period; and
(d) Any new member added to a conference that is eligible for an automatic bid shall be immediately eligible to represent the conference as the automatic qualifier.
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