March 29, 2011 - 8:05pm
BY MICHAEL FLOREK
After months of speculation that started when Penn State announced it was establishing a Division-I hockey team, it's finally official — the Big Ten will have a hockey conference.
The athletic directors at Big Ten schools with hockey teams have recommended to the Big Ten Council of Presidents that hockey should be a conference sport, starting during the 2013-14 athletics. The move is the first step towards the establishment of the conference. It's almost a given the Council of Presidents will accept the recommendation.
A Big Ten hockey conference has been talked about for years but the conference only had five Division-I teams before Penn State joined. The minimum number of teams required to form a conference is six.
According to the press release, the conference — consisting of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Minnesota and Wisconsin — will play a 20 game schedule with each team playing each other in two two-game series, one at home and one on the road.
The release also states "the Big Ten's men's ice hockey programs will continue to proactively work to maintain a strong schedule of non-conference competition with the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) (Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State) and Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) (Minnesota and Wisconsin)."
With a 20-game schedule, teams will have room to play 15 non-conference games.