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Thread: NAIA Hockey Possible Comeback

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    NAIA Hockey Possible Comeback

    Word around the ACHA community is that the NAIA is looking to sponsor men's hockey again (as soon as the 2017-18 season). Back in the day, NAIA was a strong sponsor of college hockey until most of the schools with hockey moved to the NCAA. Over the last 5-10 years, there's been an uptick of NAIA schools (smaller private universities with similar makeup to NCAA DIII schools) adding hockey and other sports to boost enrollment. Right now all of the current NAIA schools compete in the ACHA with club teams. The core of current teams is located in the great lakes region (Mich, Indiana, Illinois) then out to Iowa and Nebraska. There's also word that a number of other NAIA schools are watching the progress and looking to add the sport.

    Current teams:

    Aquinas College (MI)
    Davenport Univ. (MI)
    Dordt College (IA)
    Holy Cross at Notre Dame (IN)
    Indiana Tech (IN)
    Lawrence Tech (MI)
    Life Univ. (GA)
    Lindenwood-Belleville (IL)
    Midland Univ. (NE)
    Rochester College (MI)
    Robert Morris-Chicago (IL)
    Waldorf College (IA)
    Univ. of Jamestown (ND)
    UM-Dearborn (MI)
    Last edited by sbkbghockey; 07-26-2016 at 07:58 PM.

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    Re: NAIA Hockey Possible Comeback

    The NAIA used to have some great schools playing hockey back in the 60s and 70s. Bemidji State was a power house as well as Gustavus and all of the University of Wisconsin Schools (River Falls, Eau Claire, Superior & Stevens Point), St Thomas, St Scholastica and Ferris State. The precursor of UNE (St. Francis College) played in the NAIA District 5 with Nasson College (gone), New Hampshire College (now SNHU), Nathaniel Hawthorne College (gone, or maybe part of Daniel Webster College), Plymouth State, Gordon College, UMPG (now University of Southern Maine) and Roger Williams College. Going back to the 60's, I think Salem State and Boston State also were members of the NAIA.

    There some pretty good teams and players from those old days of the 60s and 70s, and some very interesting characters!

    One small piece of trivia. If Bemidji State ever wins the NCAA Div 1 Championship, they will be the only school to win National Championships in the NAIA, NCAA Div 3, NCAA Div 2 and NCAA Div 1.

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    Re: NAIA Hockey Possible Comeback

    Correct! Under a recently reached agreement with the ACHA board of directors and the newly formed NAIA Hockey Coaches Association; at least 9 NAIA schools will form a separate NAIA Division - initially under the umbrella of the ACHA beginning in the 2017 - 2018 school year - until such time as they reach the required membership level to transition to full NAIA recognition. Interestingly athletic aid (read scholarships) will be included in the bylaws of of what is being tabbed as a true varsity division. In addition to the schools mentioned there is a growing interest from a number of NAIA schools looking to add hockey. This is a very interesting development that could have a significant impact on NCAA D3.....stay tuned!
    Last edited by tiredtender; 05-05-2016 at 01:57 PM. Reason: typo

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    Re: NAIA Hockey Possible Comeback

    Quote Originally Posted by tiredtender View Post
    Correct! Under a recently reached agreement with the ACHA board of directors and the newly formed NAIA Hockey Coaches Association; at least 9 NAIA schools will form a separate NAIA Division - initially under the umbrella of the ACHA beginning in the 2017 - 2018 school year - until such time as they reach the required membership level to transition to full NAIA recognition. Interestingly athletic aid (read scholarships) will be included in the bylaws of of what is being tabbed as a true varsity division. In addition to the schools mentioned there is a growing interest from a number of NAIA schools looking to add hockey. This is a very interesting development that could have a significant impact on NCAA D3.....stay tuned!
    NAIA permits athletic aid. Current DIII schools do not. I doubt that there are many DIII schools that would be impacted, except for the possible impact of competition for players. One reason for the growth of DIII was the no athletic aid format. All in all it is a lot cheaper not to have such aid.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NUProf View Post
    NAIA permits athletic aid. Current DIII schools do not. I doubt that there are many DIII schools that would be impacted, except for the possible impact of competition for players. One reason for the growth of DIII was the no athletic aid format. All in all it is a lot cheaper not to have such aid.
    There is aid and then there is aid. We've seen a few D-III schools who have stretched the limits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NUProf View Post
    NAIA permits athletic aid. Current DIII schools do not. I doubt that there are many DIII schools that would be impacted, except for the possible impact of competition for players. One reason for the growth of DIII was the no athletic aid format. All in all it is a lot cheaper not to have such aid.

    This is something the D2 schools should look into. I believe that the NAIA allows you to join in a single sport which means they could play for some sort of National tournament. The reason these naia teams are making waves and could impact d3 is that many of them for years have been funding their programs better than a large # of d3 programs and they were able to attract large #s of kids to pay the bulk of the school but there are some kids they want bad enough they can make it pretty **** close to nothing which is supposed to be against the rules in the acha. But they will now be able to get a kid on a scholarship if they want him bad enough possibly stealing away some top recruits from D3. If all six d2 teams we're join they would have enough NAIA schools to declare as an emerging sport. I think they need 25 to become a sponsored sport. Hockey at these schools was to always subsidize all the other sports scholarships.

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    Re: NAIA Hockey Possible Comeback

    Quote Originally Posted by tiredtender View Post
    Correct! Under a recently reached agreement with the ACHA board of directors and the newly formed NAIA Hockey Coaches Association; at least 9 NAIA schools will form a separate NAIA Division - initially under the umbrella of the ACHA beginning in the 2017 - 2018 school year - until such time as they reach the required membership level to transition to full NAIA recognition. Interestingly athletic aid (read scholarships) will be included in the bylaws of of what is being tabbed as a true varsity division. In addition to the schools mentioned there is a growing interest from a number of NAIA schools looking to add hockey. This is a very interesting development that could have a significant impact on NCAA D3.....stay tuned!
    Awesome to hear that it's going forward; great for our sport to add more playing opportunities and paths to get a college education (and for us hockey nut fans to talk about and follow )

    Quote Originally Posted by cooperalls View Post
    This is something the D2 schools should look into. I believe that the NAIA allows you to join in a single sport which means they could play for some sort of National tournament. The reason these naia teams are making waves and could impact d3 is that many of them for years have been funding their programs better than a large # of d3 programs and they were able to attract large #s of kids to pay the bulk of the school but there are some kids they want bad enough they can make it pretty **** close to nothing which is supposed to be against the rules in the acha. But they will now be able to get a kid on a scholarship if they want him bad enough possibly stealing away some top recruits from D3. If all six d2 teams we're join they would have enough NAIA schools to declare as an emerging sport. I think they need 25 to become a sponsored sport. Hockey at these schools was to always subsidize all the other sports scholarships.
    I agree, some of the top ACHA teams are funded well enough to put them in the top half of NCAA D3 team spending, hockey at the the NAIA schools is a varsity sport so they are even more comparable to NCAA spending. I think it's great that our great game of hockey continues to grow and this new level will be quite competitive in a few years. It's already in a hotbed of hockey and gaining legit varsity status will help both the ACHA being associated with it as well as these individual schools involved. They should definitely compete for players that would be high-end D3 and as well compete with depth D1 talented players. The few D2 schools left should definitely look into becoming associated NAIA members for hockey, they'd be allowed to give schollies like the rest of NCAA D2/NAIA schools and finally have a championship to play for.
    Last edited by sbkbghockey; 07-26-2016 at 07:59 PM.

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    Re: NAIA Hockey Possible Comeback

    Quote Originally Posted by sbkbghockey View Post
    The few D2 schools left should definitely look into becoming associated NAIA members for hockey, they'd be allowed to give schollies like the rest of NCAA D2/NAIA schools and finally have a championship to play for.
    I think the main reason the DII schools are still where they are is because they don't want to pay for scholarships and want to keep travel costs down to a minimum. If they wanted to pay for that stuff, they would just move up to DI, which they're allowed to do since there's no DII National Championship. I don't see any of them becoming affiliate NAIA members.
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    Re: NAIA Hockey Possible Comeback

    Quote Originally Posted by Buckeye22 View Post
    I think the main reason the DII schools are still where they are is because they don't want to pay for scholarships and want to keep travel costs down to a minimum. If they wanted to pay for that stuff, they would just move up to DI, which they're allowed to do since there's no DII National Championship. I don't see any of them becoming affiliate NAIA members.
    There is only one school which has both NAIA and NCAA affiliation - Nebraska Wesleyan (I once taught there) - the reason that they belong to both is because there are very few NCAA schools in that part of the country, so they belong to an NAIA league but function as a Pool B school in most sports. They did last year accept an invitation to the NAIA basketball tournament, but they have also participated in the DIII basketball tournament - to do this, they follow DIII aid requirements, but play most of the regular season games in all sports (particularly basketball and football) against similar size schools that do offer scholarships. It is a complicated arrangement, which used to be much more common - the other schools finally dropped the NAIA and went all DIII. NWU is the last remaining school in that category. I don't even know if the NCAA would permit new affiliations of that nature. I think they are grandfathered in.
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    Re: NAIA Hockey Possible Comeback

    Quote Originally Posted by NUProf View Post
    There is only one school which has both NAIA and NCAA affiliation - Nebraska Wesleyan (I once taught there) - the reason that they belong to both is because there are very few NCAA schools in that part of the country, so they belong to an NAIA league but function as a Pool B school in most sports. They did last year accept an invitation to the NAIA basketball tournament, but they have also participated in the DIII basketball tournament - to do this, they follow DIII aid requirements, but play most of the regular season games in all sports (particularly basketball and football) against similar size schools that do offer scholarships. It is a complicated arrangement, which used to be much more common - the other schools finally dropped the NAIA and went all DIII. NWU is the last remaining school in that category. I don't even know if the NCAA would permit new affiliations of that nature. I think they are grandfathered in.
    They recently announced a move to drop NAIA membership and are going to joing the NCAA D3 Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.


    Quote Originally Posted by Buckeye22 View Post
    I think the main reason the DII schools are still where they are is because they don't want to pay for scholarships and want to keep travel costs down to a minimum. If they wanted to pay for that stuff, they would just move up to DI, which they're allowed to do since there's no DII National Championship. I don't see any of them becoming affiliate NAIA members.
    Good point Buckeye, the D2 hockey schools are frustrate me. If they're so anti-scholarship, they could drop down to D3 (some are exploring), or play up DI for hockey if they wish to put up the significant money and interests. If money is an issue across the athletic department, the NAIA could be an option because the scholarship limits in NAIA sports are similar to NCAA D2 but it generally costs less to run an NAIA athletic department. As a college hockey fan, it'd be nice to seem them take one of those options and have the ability to play for championships.

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    Re: NAIA Hockey Possible Comeback

    Quote Originally Posted by sbkbghockey View Post
    They [Nebraska Wesleyan] recently announced a move to drop NAIA membership and are going to joing the NCAA D3 Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
    That is interesting. I know that just recently they qualified for the NAIA basketball tournament as champions of the GPAC. Seems like they will do a lot of traveling to the East with that arrangement.

    In any case, I don't see anybody at any level becoming an affiliate NAIA member - I suspect the NCAA would not approve. I know a few years ago there was a proposal to disband the NAIA, but the NCAA didn't want to take on so many new members.
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    Re: NAIA Hockey Possible Comeback

    So just to update this for anybody who's interested, the ACHA will be starting an NAIA varsity division for 2017-18 as has been previously stated here. There will be six charter members; Aquinas College, Indiana Tech, Lawrence Tech, Life University, Lindenwood University-Belleville and Waldorf University.

    Some of the best NAIA schools currently with ACHA programs are notably absent. Davenport, Robert Morris-Illinois, UM-Dearborn and Jamestown, all currently ranked in the Top 10 of the ACHA's Division I, will apparently not be taking part. I'm curious if they even want to. They may just be happy with where they are and the competition they already have (Indiana Tech is the only one of the six with an ACHA DI program. They also have an ACHA DIII team. Life, Lindenwood-Belleville and Waldorf have ACHA DII programs. Aquinas has an ACHA DIII program and Lawrence Tech operates two ACHA DIII squads). That said, I doubt the NAIA would have gone ahead with this if they didn't have some input from all the current ACHA/NAIA schools and at least some level of agreement that the other schools would get on board down the road.

    Here's the link to the story from Indiana Tech's website. You can also read the full release and some other stuff from the NAIA's new hockey Twitter page here.
    Last edited by Buckeye22; 01-27-2017 at 12:28 AM.

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    Re: NAIA Hockey Possible Comeback

    RE Buckeye: I would imagine that some of those ACHA DI programs will come over in the following seasons. Especially since team's schedule about a season in advance, those ACHA D1 teams are likely locked into current conference scheduling. Of Note, Davenport is leaving NAIA as a whole, their hockey is staying in ACHA and other sports going to NCAA Division II and GLIAC Conference (same sports conference was Ferris, NMU, LSSU, and MI Tech).

    With the lack of NCAA D3 Hockey in Michigan, the NAIA has real potential to get a strong foothold again in the Great Lakes region and Upper Midwest.
    Last edited by sbkbghockey; 02-01-2017 at 03:30 PM.

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    Re: NAIA Hockey Possible Comeback

    Quote Originally Posted by sbkbghockey View Post

    With the lack of NCAA D3 Hockey in Michigan, the NAIA has real potential to get a strong foothold again in the Great Lakes region and Upper Midwest.
    Did you forget Adrian?
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    Quote Originally Posted by NUProf View Post
    Did you forget Adrian?
    Trine too!!

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    Re: NAIA Hockey Possible Comeback

    Quote Originally Posted by NUProf View Post
    Did you forget Adrian?
    Did you forget Finlandia?

    Quote Originally Posted by joecct View Post
    Trine too!!
    Trine is in Indiana.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buckeye22 View Post
    Did you forget Finlandia?



    Trine is in Indiana.
    Close enough.

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    Re: NAIA Hockey Possible Comeback

    Quote Originally Posted by NUProf View Post
    Did you forget Adrian?
    Phrased that wrong- other than Adrian, Finlandia (0-21 record), and Trine (future) the NCAA Hockey lacks a strong presence at D3 in Michigan and lower Great Lakes region. It's surprising since the state has a rich hockey history, strong recruiting pool, close to Canada, and a fair amount of D3 schools in MI. Since there's also a good number of current NAIA schools with hockey and also other NAIA schools in MI and the region, the NAIA has the potential to really grow the varsity collegiate hockey options in MI and out-pace NCAA growth in the state. It will be interesting to see which org grows faster in the Great Lakes region. NCAA D3 Hockey also has a big hole in the State of Ohio and is similar with a strong NCAA D1 Hockey presence but also many D3 non-hockey schools.

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    Re: NAIA Hockey Possible Comeback

    Quote Originally Posted by sbkbghockey View Post
    Phrased that wrong- other than Adrian, Finlandia (0-21 record), and Trine (future) the NCAA Hockey lacks a strong presence at D3 in Michigan and lower Great Lakes region. It's surprising since the state has a rich hockey history, strong recruiting pool, close to Canada, and a fair amount of D3 schools in MI. Since there's also a good number of current NAIA schools with hockey and also other NAIA schools in MI and the region, the NAIA has the potential to really grow the varsity collegiate hockey options in MI and out-pace NCAA growth in the state. It will be interesting to see which org grows faster in the Great Lakes region. NCAA D3 Hockey also has a big hole in the State of Ohio and is similar with a strong NCAA D1 Hockey presence but also many D3 non-hockey schools.
    After a quick browsing of the ACHA website, if you subtract Davenport, by my count there are currently 13 NAIA schools with ACHA hockey teams. The University of Victoria's club team plays in the BCIHL and University of British Columbia's varsity team plays in U SPORTS (I find it extremely unlikely that either one would jump ship to play in the NAIA. If UVic ever went varsity they would just play in U SPORTS). St. Ambrose University has a club team playing in the Quad City Adult Hockey League. I know Carroll College in Montana was talking about starting an ACHA club a few years back but I don't think they did. Any word on any other NAIA schools looking to start a program?
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    Re: NAIA Hockey Possible Comeback

    Some Off-season updates/News

    1) Concordia University Ann Arbor announced they will add men's and women's ice hockey starting in 2018-19, with the men's team participating in the new NAIA division.
    Link here: https://www.cuaa.edu/news/2017-06-23.html

    Note: CUAA is the sister school of Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW), which has sponsored men's and women's hockey at D3 since 2007, so nice that the university system has experience with hockey and has been a solid stable member of D3. That's an indication that CUAA is looking to go full steam ahead into hockey and has a nice template from CUW. NAIA is different than NCAA and has different challenges and opportunities but both have many similarities of small college athletics.

    2) Indiana Tech announced that the school will host the inaugural Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) men's hockey conference championship.
    Link here: http://indianatechwarriors.com/news/...ournament.aspx

    Good news that the new NAIA level is growing in terms of both schools and NAIA conference support. The WHAC was notable a few years ago as the first NAIA conference to sponsor lacrosse, now lacrosse is through the emerging sport process and pushing for full championship status in the NAIA. Having a full athletic conference involved at an early stage of sport sponsorship helps gives credibility to the emerging sport process and also encourages growth from the athletic department level. In the years following the WHAC's lax championship, other schools added the sport and other NAIA conferences added championships.

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