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Western Michigan, St. Cloud to Join NCHC

The Secondary Six will now become the Page 8 Conference. It was announced today that Western Michigan and St. Cloud State will join the newly-formed conference.

It's an interesting move on a number of fronts. First, the Secondary Six was thought to be waiting on the relative "prize" of gaining Notre Dame and their 4000 fans. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrock said late last week that the Irish expected to make a decision on their future conference in "7 to 10 days" but with the tumult going on in real college sports, it seems likely that that will become the fifth self-set deadline for announcement that Notre Dame will miss.

Second, it's a fairly big bombshell that St. Cloud is leaving the WCHA for that Page 8 exposure, after St. Cloud State president Earl Potter lied earlier this summer by saying St. Cloud State was not interested in an invitation to new conference, while conspiring to try to earn an invitation. I guess that's at least one way they make a good fit for the new conference.

This move makes the future of the WCHA, and consequently the future of college hockey as a 59-team enterprise all the more untenable. Is it worth it for Minnesota State and Bemidji State to keep their programs at the Division I level to be outliers in their conference and hope for meaningless exhibition games against local opponents? Probably not. The three UP schools, Ferris State and Bowling Green are still one team short--maybe opening a window for Alabama-Huntsville?-- for a conference, but can they afford to keep one or both of the Alaska schools in their conference? Probably not. Things certainly weren't going to be easy for the new WCHA prior to today, but this news certainly makes it all the more tough, and perhaps finally pushes the needle over to impossible.