Ice Hockey Wiki

Formation of the Big Ten Hockey conference[]

The impetus for the realignment was put in motion in September 2010, when oil and natural gas magnate Terry Pegula and his wife Kim donated $88 million to establish Division I men's and women's hockey programs at Terry's alma mater of Penn State University. This gave the Big Ten Conference, at the time a Division I non-hockey conference, six members that had men's ice hockey competing at the D-I level. The specific membership number was critical for two reasons. First, Big Ten bylaws state that the conference may sponsor a sport once six schools have varsity teams. More importantly, this is also the same number of members required for a conference's champion to receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Division I hockey Championship tournament. The conference members voted to add men's ice hockey as a conference sponsored sport in March 2011.  The start date of Big Ten hockey was announced for the 2013-14 academic year.

The result of the establishment of the league led to the following changes:

  • Penn State University started playing D-I hockey as an independent for the 2012-13 season and joined the Big Ten for the 2013-14 season.

Fallout from Formation of Big Ten Hockey conference[]

The final results of the realignment[]

  • The Big Ten Conference was formed to start play with the start of the 2013-14 Big Ten Season with six teams.
  • The National Collegiate Hockey Conference was formed to start play for the 2013-14 NCHC Season with 8 teams.
  • The CCHA was dissolved after playing from 1971 to 2013.
    • In a postscript to this realignment, Bowling Green, one of the final CCHA members, retained ownership of the conference name. In November 2019, Bowling Green was one of seven members of the post-2013 WCHA that jointly announced in late 2019 that they would leave the WCHA after the 2020–21 season. The seven schools announced in February 2020 that they would begin play in a new CCHA in 2021–22.
  • Hockey East expanded to 11 teams for the 2013-14 season and to 12 teams for 2014-15.
  • The Western Collegiate Hockey Association would now have 10 men's teams for the 2013-14 season.
  • Atlantic Hockey would drop by one team for the 2014-15 season.
  • The only men's Division I conference left unaffected by all of the realignment was the ECAC.
  • A total of 21 D-I programs (out of 59 at the time) were in new conferences for the 2013-14 season, and a 22nd changed conferences for the 2014-15 season.
  • Only Michigan Tech along with the founding members of Hockey East (Boston College, Boston University, UMass-Lowell, Maine, New Hampshire, and Providence College) have been in the same conference continuously since at least 1988 and all seven of the these schools joined their present conferences for the 1984-85 season.  So no school has been in their conference more than 30 seasons as of the end of the 2013-14 season
  • Strangely, with all these moves in the men's leagues, the only changes to the women's Division I leagues were that College Hockey America (which only sponsors a women's league) would lose Niagara, which was dropping the sport and added Penn State, Lindenwood, and Rochester Institute of Technology. The Big Ten only had four schools participating in women's varsity hockey at the time (Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin), and none of its other members have added varsity women's hockey as of 2020–21. Also, the original CCHA never sponsored women's hockey in its history; Ohio State, whose women played (and still play) in the WCHA, was the only CCHA member with a women's varsity program.

Conference Memberships by Season (based on information from above)[]

Conference                 2011-12       2012-13             2013-14        2014-15

Atlantic Hockey               12                      12                      12                   11

Big Ten                  Established for 2013-14 season            6                6

CCHA                              11                      11                Disbanded

ECAC                              12                     12                     12                   12

Hockey East                    10                     10                     11                   12

NCHC                      Established for 2013-14 season         8               8

WCHA                              12                     12                     10                    8

Div. I Independents            1                       2                      0                     0