Compiled by D3hockey.com Staff
Indianapolis, Indiana - After a decade plus wait that has seemed like an eternity, the men's programs of the United Collegiate Hockey Conference have been making considerable progress towards an automatic bid for over a year after the addition of Lebanon Valley and Stevenson last fall. Those additions gave the league a sufficient number of teams, starting the NCAA-mandated two year probationary period last fall, in order to receive an automatic qualifier designation for the league's champion to hold a spot in the NCAA tournament.
When the membership, which remained almost entirely intact, shifted from the ECAC West to the UCHC, the NCAA requires a waiver application be put on file to prevent the two year waiting period from restarting under a new administration, thus maintaining the existing schedule to receive a bid upon approval. According to an NCAA report, that waiver was not granted in the 2017 application period by the Championships Committee, which stands to set back the league's timetable for Pool A membership another season from 2018-19, to 2019-20.
In the report, the committee stated that they were not comfortable with giving a year of time credit to a conference that was not yet active, and whose members were previously part of a conference that was not eligible for automatic qualification.
While the league has been dealt a temporary setback in achieving the long awaited goal of Pool A status, the push to return to the original timeline and acquire a bid next season may be far from over. While the request was denied this time, it is permissible for a conference to re-submit the waiver application a second time next year, when the UCHC will have completed a full season by that point and be active in the eyes of the NCAA. The league may also have precedent on its side once that happens, as the NEHC and Commonwealth Coast were both able to transfer their existing bids without incident when their administrative structures shifted away from the ECAC.
The women's league is on a fresh two year clock after splitting away from the SUNY institutions, who have since formed the NEWHL. The earliest the UCHC women can achieve a bid would be the 2019-20 season.