Two weeks after being granted a waiver by the NCAA to move directly from Division III to Division I, the University of St. Thomas announced that they will join the CCHA, becoming the league’s eighth member after being approved by unanimous vote of the league’s seven other members:
St. Thomas will join the league for the league’s inaugural season in 2021-2022. The move was largely expected as it made a ton of sense for both parties. St. Thomas finds an immediate home in Division I. For the CCHA, the league adds an eighth team, allowing them to balance out their scheduling, and they did so with a school that lessens the travel burden for many of the schools in the league, rather than increases it.
Now that St. Thomas will officially be in the CCHA and the CCHA likely not looking to add any more members, it raises questions about the future plans of the four western schools currently scheduled to be independents in 2021-2022—Arizona State, Alabama-Huntsville, Alaska-Anchorage, and Alaska-Fairbanks. Arizona State has proven in recent years that it is possible to survive as an independent provided other schools are willing to make an effort to help it work. But the current public health/economic situation makes this about the worst possible time for an independent school to be entirely dependent on other schools willingly flying to play them for home games.