The End Of Huntsville?
The CCHA made a pretty surprising decision today, denying Alabama-Huntsville admission into the league. UAH will now be the only CHA team without a home when the league disbands. Niagara and Robert Morris will be absorbed into Atlantic Hockey, while Bemidji State will be in the WCHA. I, for one, am shocked. Think abou tthe “little guys” that were the foundation of the CCHA: Lake State, Ferris State, Northern Michigan, Bowling Green, etc. Now, the CCHA has decided they are too good for another little school in UAH. With Nebraska-Omaha moving to the WCHA, UAH seems a perfect replacement. For example, from Huntsville to Ann Arbor, Michigan it is 10 hours and 2 minutes (via Google Maps). From Omaha to Ann Arbor it is 10 hours and 36 minutes. And Huntsville is significantly closer to Miami and Ohio State. Huntsville would likely have no problem drawing fans, as Alabama is football country and everyone knows of Michigan, Ohio State and Notre Dame.
Huntsville had tradition at the Division 2 level, and has had success in its infancy at Division 1. They won the CHA championship in 2007 and gave Notre Dame a run for its money in the first round of that NCAA Tournament.
CCHA bylaws required 9 of 11 members to vote yes (Omaha wasn’t allowed a vote) and it appears enough of the “little guys” said no. On the surface, I don’t have a huge problem with the big boys saying no. After all, they’re in the cat bird’s seat. Still, the little guys should have stepped up. Fairbanks, a place no one wants to go to, said no, citing a “lack of commitment.” Really? Huntsville has had to survive playing DII hockey, in Alabama. Not in Alaska, where it may be far flung but at least it’s cold and a traditional hockey market. Alabama. Huntsville was also a founding member of College Hockey America. Bowling Green, which just got funding for their arena, looks like they are a decent bet to still be in the league. So the CCHA will be an 11 team league, and Huntsville will be out in the cold.
Alaska AD Forrest Karr said “I hope this is not a death sentence for them, and I hope it’s not the end of their program. The last thing anyone wants to see is the loss of any Division I college hockey program.” That’s like President Truman voting not to send troops to liberate Europe, but saying he hopes the Holocaust ends.