Sunday, July 31, 2011

University of Alaska Fairbanks to the WCHA?

Alaska Nanooks men's ice hockeyImage via WikipediaIt would appear from the outside that this is the beginning of the process of seeing if the UA Fairbanks would be a good fit for the WCHA. Logically speaking, I believe that UAF would be a good fit for the WCHA because they could play their in state rivals the UAA Seawolves four times in one season.
FAIRBANKS — Bruce McLeod, the commissioner of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, is planning a visit to the University of Alaska Fairbanks next month.

McLeod’s visit to Interior Alaska is no guarantee that the Alaska Nanooks are going to join the same conference as their intrastate rivals, the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves. It is, though, an indication that UAF’s program, which is among 11 teams in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, is at least being considered for WCHA membership as NCAA Division I hockey is experiencing league changes that will take effect in the 2013-14 season.

The idea of the planned visit began Thursday morning during a conference call with McLeod and athletic directors from the five remaining WCHA programs — UAA, Michigan Tech and Minnesota schools St. Cloud State, Bemidji State and Minnesota State-Mankato.

“The group asked me to talk to UAF about an in-person visit by myself to get some additional information, such as regarding the budget for the program,” McLeod said Thursday night in a telephone interview.

According to information Thursday night from UAF athletic director Forrest Karr, the University of Alaska Fairbanks spent about $2.4 million last year on hockey operations. The total includes salaries, team travel, guarantees for incoming team travel, scholarships, equipment, facility rental and all other costs associated with the program.

“It was the second highest in the CCHA,” Karr said during a telephone interview Thursday night.

As of Thursday, McLeod had not set a specific date but he said was considering coming north during the second week of August.

“I just want to get some insight,” he said. “I’m curious to meet the chancellor and many other people there, and get a sense of the commitment to the program and hope they get sense of me. I want them to see that how we (WCHA) run our operation is different (from the CCHA).”

McLeod said that the conference call did not include any motions for a vote for WCHA membership for the Nanooks.

Read more: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - WCHA leader set to visit Nanooks’ den
Some of the concerns that the other schools in the WCHA (starting 2013-2014) might have about adding the University of Alaska Fairbanks is increased travel expenses because they will have to add an extra flight yearly to Fairbanks, Alaska will inevitably raise those schools' travel budget.
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