Men's Division I and Women's Division I Independents are schools that participate at the Division I level without a conference affiliation. This classification is usually reserved for schools just joining the Division I level and are waiting to gain a conference affiliation.
At this point there are no Men's Division I Independent Schools after Penn State University and University of Alabama in Huntsville joined conferences for the 2013-14 season as part of the NCAA Division I men's hockey realignment of the 2010's, which involved two leagues being created and one league dissolving and another league having most of its' membership changing leagues.
Approximately 50 of the current 59 programs have played as an independent at least at one point in their existence. The formation of the WCHA for 1959 found homes for many schools after the collapse of the Midwest Collegiate Hockey League in 1958. The formation of the ECAC in 1961 gave homes to many schools as well. The formation of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (now know as Atlantic Hockey) in 1998 was another league that created a home for many programs.
Some programs dropped down to Divison II or Division III or dropped hockey all together for some period of time.
Thirteen schools dropped hockey programs that played as independents and no longer have varsity ice hockey programs:
The following programs played as an independent for the 1958-59 season before joining the WCHA: Colorado College Tigers, Denver Pioneers, Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Tech Huskies, Minnesota Golden Gophers, North Dakota Fighting Sioux,
The following programs played as an independent until the 1961 formation of the ECAC: Army Black Knights, Boston College Eagles, Boston University Terriers, Brown Bears, Clarkson Golden Knights, Colgate Raiders, Cornell Big Red, Dartmouth Big Green, Harvard Crimson, New Hampshire Wildcats, Northeastern Huskies, Princeton Tigers, Providence Friars, RPI Engineers, St. Lawrence Saints, Yale Bulldogs
The Alabama-Huntsville Chargers were a Men's Division I Independent off and on. The NCAA stopped sponsoring Division II hockey from 1987 to 1992. The team returned to Division I when it was reestablished from 1992 to 1999. The team was a member of College Hockey America, during its' whole existence as a men's league from 1999 to 2010 The team had applied for membership in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association but was denied membership. They played as an independent starting in 2010 until being accepted as a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association for the 2013-14 season.
The Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks played as an independent in 1925-26 after which the program was dropped. They program returned in 1932 and they played as an independent until dropping to Division II in 1973 and was a member of the Great West Hockey Conference from 1985 to 1988, returning to being an independent from 1988 to 1994 when they joined the CCHA.
The Army Black Knights played as an independent from 1903-1961 and 1973-1984 which were around two stints in the ECAC from 1961 to 1973 and 1984 to 1991. They returned to being an independent from 1991 to 1999 when they joined the CHA.
The Bemidji State Beavers played as an independent from 1947 to 1950 before dropping the program. They returned from 1959 to 1967 as an independent before dropping to Division III and returned to Division I as a charter member of College Hockey America.
The Lake Superior Lakers were independent from 1966 to 1972 prior to joining the CCHA.
The UMass Minutemen were independent from 1908 to 1961 when then moved to Division II and dropped the program from 1979 to 1993. They returned as an independent for 1993-94 prior to joining Hockey East.
The Merrimack Warriors played as an independent when they moved up from Division II in 1984 until they joined Hockey East in 1989
The Miami RedHawks played as an independent from 1978 to 1980 when they joined the CCHA.
Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs played as an independent from 1946 to 1965 when they joined the WCHA
The Minnesota State Mavericks played as an independent when they elevated their program in 1996 until joining the WCHA in 1999.
The Niagara Purple Eagles played as an independent from the program's establishment in 1997 until becoming a charter member of CHA.
The Northern Michigan Wildcats played as an independent in 1976-77 prior to joining the CCHA.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish played as an independent from 1912 until the program was dropped in 1927 and from 1968 to 1971 when they joined the WCHA and from 1984 to 1991 when they joined the CCHA.
The Ohio State Buckeyes played as an independent from 1963 to 1971 and from 1973 to 1975, between stints in the CCHA.
The Penn State Nittany Lions men's ice hockey were an independent program for the team's inaugural 2012-13 season, prior to joining the BigTen Conference which was adding men's ice hockey as a varsity level sport when Penn State became the sixth of its members to have a Division I hockey program.
The RPI Engineers played as an independent from 1901 to 1950, prior to joining the Tri-State League
The Saint Cloud State University Huskies played as an independent when the program joined from Division II in 1987 until joining the WCHA in 1990.
The Union Dutchmen played as an independent from 1903 to 1949 when they dropped the program. It returned to Division III in 1975 and moved to the ECAC in 1991.
The Wisconsin Badgers played as an independent from 1921 to 1935 before dropping the program and from 1963 to 1969 before joining the WCHA.
Women's teams played as independents mostly for one or two seasons prior to joining leagues.
The Clarkson Golden Knights women's ice hockey team played as an independent for the 2003-04 season before joining the ECAC
The Connecticut Huskies women's ice hockey program played as an independent in 2000-01 before moving to Hockey East for the start of the women's league
The Lindenwood Lady Lions ice hockey progam, based in St. Charles, Missouri, was an independent for the 2011-12 season prior to joining College Hockey America for the 2012-13 season after the university joining the NCAA from the NAIA, which did not sponsor women's ice hockey, and thus the team played in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, which was the sanctioning body for non-varsity college ice hockey in the United States. They were not eligible for NCAA post season play until becoming a full member of the NCAA in 2014.
The North Dakota Fighting Sioux women's ice hockey team played as an independent from 2002-2004 before joining the WCHA.
The Quinnipiac Bobcats played as an independent from 2002-2004 between playing in the ECAC and the CHA.
Schools that no longer have varsity men's ice hockeyEdit
The Carnegie Tech Tartans played from 1905-1910 and 1920-21.
The Illinois Fighting Illini played as an independent from 1937-1943 prior to dropping the program
The UIC Flames played as an independent in 1981-82 prior to joining the CCHA and then dropped the program in 1996.
The Iona Gaels played as an independent from 1967 to 2003, of which the last five seasons were division I The Fairfield Stags competed as an independent from 1974-1999 before joining the MAAC and dropping varsity hockey in 2003.
The Massahcusetts Institute of Technology Engineers competed as an independent from 1906 until dropping the program in 1975
The Penn Quakers were independent from 1898 to 1930 and then dropped its program.
The Pittsburgh Panthers had a program that started in 1896 and was dropped somewhere between 1909 and 1916.
The Syracuse Orange ran a program from 1911-1911, 1923-1928, 1939-1940.
The Villanova Wildcats had an independent program from 1929-1932 and from 1982-1998 when the program was dropped for Title IX reasons.
source for most of formed independents: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NCAA_Division_I_independent_schools_%28ice_hockey%29