It goes without saying that college hockey cannot afford to lose programs. Thus my initial disappointment in the CCHA last week when then denied Alabama-Huntsville admission. By doing so, the conference may have hammered the final nail into the Chargers’ coffin as a hockey program.
As we enter the final year of the CHA, Robert Morris (Atlantic Hockey), Air Force (Atlantic Hockey) and Bemidji State (WCHA) have all found new homes for 2010, leaving just UAH out of the picture.
Last month, when the WCHA announced that it would take Bemidji State as well as Nebraska-Omaha jumping from the CCHA, many assumed that it had opened the door and left the CCHA no other choice than to admit UAH to keep its league with an even number.
But the CCHA decided it was better off without Huntsville, denying the program’s bid for admission and leaving the school with the option of either competing as an independant or folding.
From a pure business decision, it’s absolutely the proper move for the CCHA. UAH simply doesn’t bring much to the table. The only reason for the CCHA to take on UAH would be to ensure a program’s future that they have no connection or need for.
The CCHA made a decision based on the health of its current member schools, which are the only ones it has a responsibility to. It’s not the CCHA’s responsibility to clean up the CHA’s mess.
College Hockey New’s Adam Wodon wrote a brilliant piece breaking down the reasoning and explaining the CCHA’s side. I have to give Wodon credit, he wrote back when Nebraska-Omaha jumped to the WCHA that it wasn’t a forgone conclusion that the CCHA would take UAH aboard, and he was ridiculed in many online forums for his opinion.
UAH is a tough sell for any conference. From a historical standpoint there isn’t much they can offer other than increased travel budgets. They’re simply a program that nobody wants.
I, for one, hope that the Chargers can find a way to stay alive, even if it is as an independent (which despite being a daunting task, they have done in the past). In an economic climate where it’s tough for any business to expand, college hockey cannot afford contraction, even if it is just its redheaded stepchild.