Minnesota State announced this afternoon that they will explore alternative conference affiliation options; specifically that they have applied to join the NCHC.
In a press release put out by the school, University president Richard Davenport said, ""With an eye to the future, we wanted to be proactive in seeking what’s best for the University and believe that now is the right time to consider all conference affiliation options for our men’s hockey program."
Minnesota State athletic director Kevin Buisman characterized the application as the beginning of the process, while they explore their possibilities with the NCHC.
In a press release, WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson gave the following statement:
"I am aware of the current exploration process being undertaken by Minnesota State University, Mankato in regards to conference affiliation. I am deeply disappointed in Minnesota State’s decision to formally apply for membership with another conference; however, I respect and understand the need for MSU President Dr. Richard Davenport and Athletic Director Kevin Buisman to examine options pertaining to their men’s hockey program. I am appreciative to Dr. Davenport for his openness and transparency, and will continue to maintain an open and collaborative dialogue throughout this process.
The Mavericks were left out of the NCHC during the initial formation of the conference when it was first announced in 2011, but the circumstances have changed considerably since then. The Mavericks have had success on the ice, both in the old WCHA and new WCHA under head coach Mike Hastings, and major renovations to the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato has brought Minnesota State's facilities up to par with the other teams in the NCHC. Meanwhile, the NCHC's hopes of being a "national" conference and a television powerhouse have never really materialized. Adding Minnesota State adds another team to the conference's stronghold in the upper Midwest.
We'll have more as this story develops.