College Hockey News reported last week that Atlantic Hockey will be raising the number of scholarships that their members will be allowed to give out.
Atlantic Hockey schools currently cap their members at 12 full scholarships per school, while the NCAA maximum is 18 full scholarships per team. Starting the season after next, in 2014-2015, Atlantic Hockey schools will be able to use 13 full scholarships, and the following year, that total will increase to 14 full scholarships.
The move seems like a reasonable compromise for the schools in the league. The league initially set the 12 scholarship limit as a means of keeping costs down, but recently, some of the more western schools in the league have chafed at the limit, wanting to use all 18 scholarships in effort to compete with the rest of college hockey.
The league also has plans of adding a 12th member to the conference after Connecticut leaves the conference to join Hockey East. The league will also be adding video review for all conference games over the next two years.
Over all, this is a nice step forward for Atlantic Hockey and college hockey as a whole. While the game of hockey has grown in the United States over the past decade, growth and opportunities at the top of the US hockey food chain in the NCAA have stagnated. This move makes 22--36 if a new 12th member is added-- new full scholarships available to players. That's like the equivalent of adding two new teams worth of scholarship money into the pool available to players.