Notre Dame informed Hockey East on Tuesday that it would leave the conference in order to join the Big Ten, beginning with the 2017-18 season, as a provisional member, College Hockey News has learned from multiple sources.
The Fighting Irish began play in Hockey East in 2013, following the disbanding of the CCHA after the 2012-13 season. At the time, Notre Dame was said to be choosing between Hockey East and the newly-formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
According to multiple sources, Hockey East was informed that travel was the biggest reason behind Notre Dame’s departure. It wasn’t the burden of travel costs, but rather the competitive disadvantage of the Irish being the only program forced to travel considerably — a flight — for every road conference game.
In the Big Ten, Notre Dame will be joined by former CCHA partners Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State.
Notre Dame has its own television contract with NBC Sports Network, which was said in 2013 to be a determining factor in why the Irish joined Hockey East and not the NCHC, where the latter wasn’t keen on one of one of its members owning its own national television exposure. Sources indicate that the Irish will retain its NBC Sports Network television contract with this move, despite the existence of the Big Ten Network.
According to Hockey East by-laws, Notre Dame will owe Hockey East $250,000 as an exit fee and sources said that the university has not yet finished making payments on its entrance fee.
Hockey East has decided not to comment at this time. Notre Dame was unable to be reached at the time of this writing.