March 21, 2011
East Lansing, Mich. - The directors of athletics of Big Ten institutions which sponsor men's ice hockey unanimously announce their intention to recommend to the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors in June the establishment of men's ice hockey as an official conference sport for the 2013-14 academic year with participation by Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin.
The recommendation includes both the establishment of the inaugural Big Ten Men's Ice Hockey Tournament in March of 2014, with the winner earning the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship, and a 20-game conference schedule with each team playing the other five schools four times (two home games and two away games). In addition, the Big Ten's men's ice hockey programs will continue to proactively work to maintain a strong schedule of non-conference competition with the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) and Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).
"We are excited about the launch of hockey in the Big Ten Conference. I believe that sponsoring men's ice hockey will enhance the Conference, its member institutions, and college hockey," said Mark Hollis, Director of Athletics at Michigan State. "Already, there is intense competition among the six programs on the ice, and this will quickly develop into one of the most exciting leagues in the nation. We're looking forward to a schedule being filled with Conference games against Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan, which will be great games for home venues and the Big Ten Network. Playing only 20 Conference games will allow our programs to continue to play non-conference contests against in-state rivals, important tournaments like the Great Lakes Invitational, and a competitive national schedule."
"If approved by the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors, this will be a welcome and exciting addition to Big Ten athletics," said MSU President Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon. "When one considers the locations of the Big Ten universities, competing athletically on the ice is a natural next step for the conference. A 20-game conference schedule and a season-ending tournament that will secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament will be exciting for college hockey fans everywhere. Our relationship with the Central Collegiate Hockey Association has been beneficial both in terms of athletics and academics, and we are pleased that we will continue to face off against CCHA teams in non-conference competition."
In September of 2010, Penn State announced the establishment of men's and women's ice hockey programs set to begin competition in the 2012-13 academic year, giving the Big Ten six institutions sponsoring men's ice hockey. Big Ten rules allow for a conference championship when six institutions sponsor a program in any given sport.
Since Penn State's announcement, the conference has researched and investigated the establishment of men's ice hockey as a conference sport. The conference has sought input and communicated both internally with conference chancellors, presidents, administrators and coaches, and externally with members of the hockey community, including the CCHA and WCHA.
With the addition of Nebraska on July 1, 2011, the broad-based athletic programs of the 12 Big Ten institutions will sponsor 298 teams with more than 9,500 men and women student-athletes competing for Big Ten Championships. The conference currently features 25 official conference sports, 12 for men and 13 for women. The last official conference sport established by the Big Ten was women's rowing in the 1999-2000 academic year.