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New England is going to be an interesting place to watch over the next year or so, since it’s ground zero for a lot of big changes in higher education. Tuition-dependent institutions without elite pedigrees are going to face even stronger competition for enrollment dollars, and those pressures are likely to be stronger in New Jersey and Connecticut than they might be in say, Texas.

Those pressures could encourage a D-II school to move up, hoping to earn more marketing exposure, like New Haven is attempting to do. It might also encourage a D-1 school to move down, in an attempt to get off the steep cost curve in D-I. From the CAA to the NEC to the AE to the MAAC and beyond, don’t be surprised to see shuffling, or strong rumors of shuffling, as schools reevaluate what they want, and what’s financially possible, with their athletic departments.
Interesting perspective, but not sure I see it the same way.

Hartford is an unknown, but the status quo would mean the AE stays at 10 and doesn't explore expansion.

Regardless of Hartford's decision, it is an extremely unlikely scenario that any of the CAA school would decide to return. I think we all agree that is likely just wishful thinking. I don't see any reason (budget/travel/otherwise) that a return the the AE benefits any of the CAA schools. You could argue Hofstra and Northeastern make the most sense, but I still don't see that in the cards. What other non-football schools would be there to replace Hartford - Fairfield, Quinnipiac, Iona?

The MAAC is already at an uneven 11 teams and you could see the schools that might have interest. Hartford - could they save $$$ in the MAAC? Sacred Heart and Bryant - step up in class with some former NEC programs. Wagner - was considered last round of expansion. I'm sure the MAAC folks would love to have Fordham return, but that is extremely unlikely. Could they woo a pair of Philly programs in LaSalle and Drexel - I doubt that tooo.

And who want to join the NEC other than New Haven? I do think the NEC could add Howard and Delaware State, if the MEAC continues it demise. Morgan State and MD-Eastern Shore are much less attractive.

I'm sure the parts are gaining to move again soon, but I have a hard time seeing the next piece to fall. Sure, Hartford would be a national shockwave, but even that may only have a minor impact on current conference alignments.
 

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Yeah, I agree about those 2 leagues. I mean, here are the current conferences:

Power 5 (Big Ten, Big XII, ACC, SEC, Pac-12) - Major basketball AND FBS football, very stable conferences at the moment. Not sure any of them are currently looking to grow, though the Big XII may like to get to the actual number in their conference name. Other than that, these guys all look pretty set for the time being. Though we have learned that you just never know (maybe the Big Ten has had enough of Nebraska?

FBS Football & high major basketball (Mountain West & AAC) - These 2 have some high level hoops and some very low level hoops programs. The MW has 11 members but seems pretty set, though you never know if Boise State decides to be dumb and move or if someone like Wyoming decides to maybe step it down a notch. The AAC is a clusterf*ck of schools still, with many members just hoping to be whisked off to better places (Cincinnati, Memphis, Houston, USF, etc). They are definitely ripe for the poaching if a P5 conference decided they wanted more members (ACC to an even number, etc)

FBS Football & mid major basketball (CUSA, MAC, Sun Belt) - CUSA & Sun Belt were talked about above and can definitely see them "trading", some joining other leagues, them poaching other leagues, etc. They will survive but I wouldn't call them stable as things will change. The MAC might be the perfect conference. All the schools are within a close & convenient footprint, have very similar profiles, enjoy taking big money paydays from Big Ten football, have solid football and basketball programs, an even number of 12 schools, etc. They all seem very committed to the conference and the other programs. Might be about as stable of a league as there is right now.

FCS Football & low/mid major basketball (Big Sky, Big South, CAA, Ivy League, MEAC, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, SWAC) - Lots of conferences in this category. The Ivy is its own thing and they are as stable as it gets, nobody getting poached and nobody being poached by them. We have discussed the instability of the Southland with them dropping to 8 members effective July 1st. The MEAC will also be teetering at the 8 member mark when Bethune-Cookman, Florida A&M and North Carolina A&T leave. There is a lot of doubt as to their survival due to lack of schools to invite plus the possibility of another member or 2 being poached (Del State, Howard come to mind). The SWAC may have dealt the death punch to the MEAC by stealing the 2 Florida schools and bumping up to 12 in July. Obviously we know that the CAA is still solid but has the potential to implode at any second, basically if James Madison decides to bolt. I don't need to go into a lengthy dissertation about all these leagues but the majority may see a little bit of shuffling but don't appear to be in any sort of danger of disappearing from the landscape.

Non-Football & major basketball (A-10, Big East, Missouri Valley, West Coast) - Is the A-10 in danger of falling from the list of major basketball conferences? Is Dayton leaving? Does St Louis decide they need to get to a league that makes much more sense from a geographic standpoint in today's world? The Big East got a huge boost this year from the return of UConn. I can't imagine this happening, but I would love to see a new league formed with Dayton & St Louis of the A-10 and Xavier, Butler, Marquette, DePaul and Creighton of the Big East and Wichita State of the AAC. Throw in Loyola and Northern Iowa from the Missouri Valley and talk about a high level hoops league! Anyway, the Big East is in pretty good shape now. The Missouri Valley is probably safe from being raided right now. The West Coast you have to consider high major with Gonzaga and then the usually ranked teams of BYU and St Mary's. It is pretty stable, with the big exception being BYU and its' flirtation with the Big XII. Gonzaga seems pretty and even if both were to leave, they would still have 8 schools, 7 of which are located in California and the other in Oregon. Their prestige would obviously take a massive hit, but the league as a whole would survive.

Non-Football & low to mid basketball (America East, Atlantic Sun, Big West, Horizon, MAAC, Summit, WAC) - Sure, there are various levels among these leagues as well but for the most part, they are fairly level when it comes hoops, esp seeing as most of the really good teams in the Horizon have left for greener pastures. The AEast is pretty solid and of course, this has been discussed a bunch already so no need to go on. The WAC, which I thought was dead a couple years ago, certainly seems to have regained their footing and may be as solid moving forward as they have ever been. Congrats to them. The A-Sun will add 3 teams on July 1st (Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State) to bring their membership up to 12. They are an interesting mix of schools from private/public to location but it seems to work I guess. Not sure where any of their current members may go as I think CUSA and the Sun Belt have pretty much already cherry picked who they wanted/needed. It's rumored that the Horizon may lose Cleveland State, but who knows. They are pretty solid as well but would probably be poached if the MAC ever lost a member. The Summit is a very interesting league as it was pretty much a Midwest conference but due to hemorrhaging members left & right, they are now a mostly upper Midwest/West conference. I think they are pretty stable now as the 4 Dakota schools all seem to be very happy in this situation right now. The Big West is probably good, with 10 schools that are either part of the Cal State or UC system and Hawai'i.

Anyway, not sure why I did this but I was bored, had some free time and decided to look at some different things. I do think we are going to see some shake ups happening in the the not-too-distant future. Maybe nothing too major, but who knows. I know the Hartford report got leaked, but it wouldn't surprise in the least if there are dozens of schools out there right now doing their own studies to figure out whether they are at the right level, in the right conference, etc. In fact, they all should be as it is the fiscally responsible thing to do, regardless of your situation.
 

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You know I feel differently about the CAA.....

Everything revolves around JMU......they stay and the CAA is OK.....they leave however......do you guys really think that Charleston, UNCW and Elon are going to stay in that conference?
 

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How can schools like New Haven possibly be considering a move to D1?

Higher Ed--or rather second-tier, non-research schools like New Haven--is in for a reckoning. I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more schools cut sports and perhaps move from D1 to D2 in the next few years than we see this. I just can't imagine a school of such low resources being able to pitch this to their board of trustees. I really don't get it. 5,000 students and $100 million endowment, in New England where we're expected to see significant fewer high school, college-bound seniors in the coming decades? Doesn't make sense.

That said I had the same feeling about Merrimack--how would the trustees be willing to cut academic scholarships and financial aid (which they did at MC) to fund the cost of D1 athletics? Well, the trustees did ok cuts to financial aid to funnel more money into athletics. Politically I don't see how that would ever be possible for AE schools (outside maybe Hartford).
your description of new haven is pretty close to describing hartford
 

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You know I feel differently about the CAA.....

Everything revolves around JMU......they stay and the CAA is OK.....they leave however......do you guys really think that Charleston, UNCW and Elon are going to stay in that conference?
You been saying this forever and nothing has happened or will happen. You keep on saying it enough times just maybe it will come true.
 

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Tennessee State "exploring" Division I hockey. These studies whether joint with the NHL or not mostly just end up saying "yes it's a good idea, now come up with the money and a facility," which is why schools like Illinois, Oakland, etc have been stalled or nothing comes of it. Of course, the other interesting thing is Tennessee State is an HBCU. Hockey has become increasingly diverse in recent years with a growing number of black players in the NHL, and I'm sure a number of them playing juniors/major junior, so this would add to it and would be interesting to follow.
 

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Tennessee State "exploring" Division I hockey. These studies whether joint with the NHL or not mostly just end up saying "yes it's a good idea, now come up with the money and a facility," which is why schools like Illinois, Oakland, etc have been stalled or nothing comes of it. Of course, the other interesting thing is Tennessee State is an HBCU. Hockey has become increasingly diverse in recent years with a growing number of black players in the NHL, and I'm sure a number of them playing juniors/major junior, so this would add to it and would be interesting to follow.
IMO, it’s going to have to be subsidized by the Predators. Otherwise it won’t last.
 

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IMO, it’s going to have to be subsidized by the Predators. Otherwise it won’t last.
What would be the benefit to the Predators? I mean, they can't use the school as their own minor league team. I don't see what they would gain from spending money on that situation.
 

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What would be the benefit to the Predators? I mean, they can't use the school as their own minor league team. I don't see what they would gain from spending money on that situation.
More kids playing the sport, especially in their own market, which can result in more players in the draft. It’s not just an advantage for the Predators, but the NHL in general.

The biggest problem that hockey has is the cost for kids and junior players. Depends in what part of the country you’re in, some youth and junior teams could have a five-figure price tag per season to be on the team. If there’s a place to play for younger players that’s free, or at least at a lesser cost, that’s great for the overall health of the sport, and by extension the NHL. Having another NCAA program is a plus.

If an NHL owner is just in it for the money and not for the good of the game, like Jerry Moyes who used to own Phoenix, or Vinnie Viola of Florida, with no youth, junior, or college outreach or subsidy, then sure, you’re getting rich, so is the league, but the sport gets hurt in the long run. Then you’re no better than those idiots who pulled off the European Super League.

The NFL has the Play Football initiative that sponsors youth football; MLB sponsors Little League Baseball; soccer clubs have academies. There’s so little of that coming down from the NHL; the whole point of the Southern Expansion 30 years ago was to grow the game, the teams in those regions need do their part.

That’s why the Predators need to put money into a potential NCAA program in their market.
 

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More kids playing the sport, especially in their own market, which can result in more players in the draft. It’s not just an advantage for the Predators, but the NHL in general.

The biggest problem that hockey has is the cost for kids and junior players. Depends in what part of the country you’re in, some youth and junior teams could have a five-figure price tag per season to be on the team. If there’s a place to play for younger players that’s free, or at least at a lesser cost, that’s great for the overall health of the sport, and by extension the NHL. Having another NCAA program is a plus.

If an NHL owner is just in it for the money and not for the good of the game, like Jerry Moyes who used to own Phoenix, or Vinnie Viola of Florida, with no youth, junior, or college outreach or subsidy, then sure, you’re getting rich, so is the league, but the sport gets hurt in the long run. Then you’re no better than those idiots who pulled off the European Super League.

The NFL has the Play Football initiative that sponsors youth football; MLB sponsors Little League Baseball; soccer clubs have academies. There’s so little of that coming down from the NHL; the whole point of the Southern Expansion 30 years ago was to grow the game, the teams in those regions need do their part.

That’s why the Predators need to put money into a potential NCAA program in their market.
I respectfully disagree.. If the NHL wants to get involved and develop something along the lines of what you mentioned from the other major sports, absolutely. But if I'm the owner of the Predators, I don't see how me spending money on a college program that doesn't really help me in any way is something that makes sense. There are so many minor leagues in the North America that provide opportunities for kids in addition to the NCAA teams that currently exist.

I would also wonder what the rules are regarding a professional organization subsidizing a collegiate athletic team.

I just think everything you mentioned is something that should be spearheaded and developed by the parent organization, not a member of that organization. It isn't up to the Predators to create a college team.
 

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We turned down being the Ravens practice facilities in a really unfortunate series of decisions but we would have been able to use their fields when they weren’t from what I recall.

I think we were afraid it was a gateway drug to a football team.
 

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I don’t know anything about hockey, but my brother attended a prep school that had a pretty strong hockey team that would send a few kids off to D1 & various NCAA teams and I remember him saying the best hockey players globally that age aren’t trying to go play NCAA hockey; they are already playing professionally or junior hockey or whatever league it is that’s not the NCAA. Wasn’t there only like 1 NCAA kid taken in the entire first round of last year’s NHL draft?

In other words, why would an NHL franchise ever support the infrastructure of an NCAA hockey team in the southeast region of the US??
 

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I don’t know anything about hockey, but my brother attended a prep school that had a pretty strong hockey team that would send a few kids off to D1 & various NCAA teams and I remember him saying the best hockey players globally that age aren’t trying to go play NCAA hockey; they are already playing professionally or junior hockey or whatever league it is that’s not the NCAA. Wasn’t there only like 1 NCAA kid taken in the entire first round of last year’s NHL draft?

In other words, why would an NHL franchise ever support the infrastructure of an NCAA hockey team in the southeast region of the US??
That actually hasn't been the case the last 10 years; in the last decade NHL teams have noticed that college players have developed better than players who stayed in junior hockey (16-20) until they age out. That's why the US has won more gold medals in the World Juniors recently.

What happens is that when a junior player in the USHL turns 18 and is drafted, he goes to college while the NHL team holds his draft rights until his amateur eligibility expires (something I personally think the NBA should look at). Players who have no shot at the NHL usually stay in juniors until they're 20, and wind up being 20 year-old college freshmen, and as a result 24 or even 25 year-old seniors. That 18 year-old draft pick who goes to college is now playing against 24/25 year-olds instead of 20 year-olds in junior hockey, which NHL teams have noticed advances his development.

Contrast that to the traditional CHL major junior leagues (OHL, QMJHL, WHL) who pay their players a stipend (rendering them NCAA ineligible), and allow those players to return to juniors after 9 NHL games; NHL teams have noticed that those players, if they're not NHL-ready right away, have to spend an extra year or two in the AHL after they age out of junior. Add to that the CHL agreement with the NHL that those players won't go to the AHL until after they're done with juniors, there's growing concern that staying in major junior hockey if you're not drafted in the first round may actually be hampering a player's development.

In the NHL, over 33% of the players went the NCAA route, a majority of them American. Here's a list of NCAA players this past season who were already drafted in the NHL. You mention that only 1 NCAA kid was selected in the first round; that's because most players get drafted right after their HS graduation and they'll be 18 by the time the season starts; players with a late-year birthday but already graduated HS and don't turn 18 until after the season starts has to wait a year before they're drafted. That player still has to do another year of junior, or a year of college (Jack Eichel, who went to Boston U), or in the case of Auston Matthews (who was born and grew up in Phoenix), paved the way for LaMello Ball by playing a pro year in Europe because he was 2 days too young from the NHL's cut off day in 2015.

So the truth is that while junior hockey is a more traditional route, college hockey has produced more results the last 10 years, which is why I think the NHL and its teams should invest in college programs' infrastructure.
 

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Wasn’t there only like 1 NCAA kid taken in the entire first round of last year’s NHL draft?
While, yes, only one present college hockey player was drafted in the first round of the 2020 draft, many top level kids taking the college route are draft eligible before they get to college. The #5 overall pick was drafted out of the US National Program, and spent this past year at North Dakota.
 

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That actually hasn't been the case the last 10 years; in the last decade NHL teams have noticed that college players have developed better than players who stayed in junior hockey (16-20) until they age out. That's why the US has won more gold medals in the World Juniors recently.

What happens is that when a junior player in the USHL turns 18 and is drafted, he goes to college while the NHL team holds his draft rights until his amateur eligibility expires (something I personally think the NBA should look at). Players who have no shot at the NHL usually stay in juniors until they're 20, and wind up being 20 year-old college freshmen, and as a result 24 or even 25 year-old seniors. That 18 year-old draft pick who goes to college is now playing against 24/25 year-olds instead of 20 year-olds in junior hockey, which NHL teams have noticed advances his development.

Contrast that to the traditional CHL major junior leagues (OHL, QMJHL, WHL) who pay their players a stipend (rendering them NCAA ineligible), and allow those players to return to juniors after 9 NHL games; NHL teams have noticed that those players, if they're not NHL-ready right away, have to spend an extra year or two in the AHL after they age out of junior. Add to that the CHL agreement with the NHL that those players won't go to the AHL until after they're done with juniors, there's growing concern that staying in major junior hockey if you're not drafted in the first round may actually be hampering a player's development.

In the NHL, over 33% of the players went the NCAA route, a majority of them American. Here's a list of NCAA players this past season who were already drafted in the NHL. You mention that only 1 NCAA kid was selected in the first round; that's because most players get drafted right after their HS graduation and they'll be 18 by the time the season starts; players with a late-year birthday but already graduated HS and don't turn 18 until after the season starts has to wait a year before they're drafted. That player still has to do another year of junior, or a year of college (Jack Eichel, who went to Boston U), or in the case of Auston Matthews (who was born and grew up in Phoenix), paved the way for LaMello Ball by playing a pro year in Europe because he was 2 days too young from the NHL's cut off day in 2015.

So the truth is that while junior hockey is a more traditional route, college hockey has produced more results the last 10 years, which is why I think the NHL and its teams should invest in college programs' infrastructure.
Conversely, CHL teams annually do large drafts to gobble up player rights and then intentionally carry large roster sizes or "call players up" from their pool of ownership rights for anywhere between 1 to 20-30 games and basically to borrow a term from international soccer "cap tie" them to the team so then they can't go play college hockey. I personally think NCAA should amend the rules for major junior kids who've played under maybe a certain amount of games or number of years and would still be age eligible so those players can still play NCAA. They shouldn't be punished for sometimes being coerced into joining the CHL club, which sometimes takes advantage of a kid or family's financial situation. With NIL coming soon to the NCAA and given these CHL stipends are not what anyone would call living wages, I think it's only fair, and, it would only add to the talent/player pool in NCAA, especially if there's any sort of expansion coming.

I'd agree Tennessee State is unlikely. Most these "studies" haven't yielded anything. LIU didn't even do a study and while they're without a league at the moment, I think they'll end up in Atlantic Hockey in time. In the post-Covid world of higher ed, hockey is expensive to fund so it'll be interesting to see how it goes. We at least know that St. Thomas is D1 next year, Lindenwood is moving its club team up at some point and probably joining the reformed CCHA. The other schools like Illinois and Navy that get thrown around are on "when will the UVM arena be built?" timelines at this point.

Alabama-Huntsville is barely hanging on through crowdfunding and so are both of the Alaska schools since the CCHA formed, effectively killing off WCHA. The NCAA really does need actual western/southwesterly expansion in the coming years. There's enough players who can play just not enough places for them to go. I'd imagine Western Canada and many coming out of the California and Pacific Northwest would enjoy having options where the closest school is in Arizona or Denver. Also, since it's established that any D1 or D2 team can form a "D1" college hockey team, there's a bit more choice but again...costs. Long way of saying college hockey growth needs to actually move from "NHL team pays for a study" to "we actually expanded."

Also, current college hockey teams that don't have women's teams (both UMass teams and like all the Big 10) get with it.
 

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Just to give an example of what I'm talking about. This American goalie played 29 games in the QMJHL when they were 18 years old. It didn't go well (it went very badly record and save percentage-wise) and he got released. He's playing in the NAHL right now for the team in Maine. Doing fairly decent. He's forever punished by the NCAA for playing 29 games with a "pro" club where he maybe made like a few thousand dollars total. They pay these players $150 a week. It's nothing. Now he's basically got this year to then do what? Normally he'd be picking a college. Now, it will be a tough road to even get an ECHL type tryout. He should be allowed to go play NCAA hockey somewhere if he chooses. Tyriq Outen at eliteprospects.com

CHL teams have programs to give their players who end up over 20 and not on a pro deal some funds toward Canadian colleges, but it's for every year you played, so Outen would not find much help there. Also, the OHL is doing this on taxpayer dimes too, even though they're for-profit entities: Ontario Government Gives OHL $2.35 Million in Taxpayer Money
 

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Just to give an example of what I'm talking about. This American goalie played 29 games in the QMJHL when they were 18 years old. It didn't go well (it went very badly record and save percentage-wise) and he got released. He's playing in the NAHL right now for the team in Maine. Doing fairly decent. He's forever punished by the NCAA for playing 29 games with a "pro" club where he maybe made like a few thousand dollars total. They pay these players $150 a week. It's nothing. Now he's basically got this year to then do what? Normally he'd be picking a college. Now, it will be a tough road to even get an ECHL type tryout. He should be allowed to go play NCAA hockey somewhere if he chooses. Tyriq Outen at eliteprospects.com
I would agree that this should be examined and potential changes made...but these rules are there and I think most know about them. I would be pretty certain that any colleges that were recruiting him prior to him going to that league made him aware of the ramifications of signing and playing any level of pro hockey. Regardless of how little he got paid, the fact does remain that he was paid money to play a sport which would make him a professional.
 

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I would agree that this should be examined and potential changes made...but these rules are there and I think most know about them. I would be pretty certain that any colleges that were recruiting him prior to him going to that league made him aware of the ramifications of signing and playing any level of pro hockey. Regardless of how little he got paid, the fact does remain that he was paid money to play a sport which would make him a professional.
You’re right, but the fact is, these kids have to make that decision at the age of 15, when they’re usually HS sophomores, and if you think recruiting in SEC football is dirty, that’s nothing compared to recruiting in junior hockey.
 
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