Atlantic Hockey has announced that the conference members will now be allowed to give out the NCAA-maximum 18 full scholarships per season. Previously, teams in Atlantic Hockey had been limited to 14 full scholarships.
This move was likely made with potential conference realignment in mind. It has long been speculated that some of the western Atlantic Hockey schools such as Robert Morris, Mercyhurst, and Niagara could be persuaded to leave the conference to join some version of a reborn CCHA with Bowling Green and some of the current WCHA’s Michigan schools, with the incentive that those Atlantic Hockey schools would then be allowed to give out the full allotment scholarships.
Similar concessions were made to those schools during the last round of conference realignment. In 2013, Atlantic Hockey agreed to bump the league scholarship minimum from 12 to 14.
While adding four full scholarships per season could be an expensive proposition for some schools in the league that struggle to draw much in attendance, it should also allow some programs in the league to be more competitive with the rest of the NCAA.
It’s also great news for the players. Adding four scholarships to each of the eight teams in the league to offer scholarships is nearly the equivalent of adding two new teams to college hockey in terms of opportunities for players, which is a wonderful thing.