And then there were two.
An eighth team, Alabama Huntsville, has submitted a letter of withdrawal to the 10-team Western Collegiate Hockey Association, the communications manager for the conference said Wednesday.
That leaves the Alaska teams — UAA and UAF — as the only teams who haven’t served notice that they intend to leave the WCHA after the 2020-21 season.
“Alabama Huntsville has submitted a withdrawal letter,” WCHA communications manager Todd Bell said by email. “However, UAH remains involved in on-going discussions with UAA and UAF regarding all options for continuing the WCHA beyond the 2020-21 season.”
The options presumably won’t include the seven teams that announced in June their intention of leaving after the 2020-21 season — Northern Michigan, Michigan Tech, Lake Superior State, Minnesota State, Bemidji State, Ferris State and Bowling Green.
Those teams said they planned to create an “elite” new conference with a smaller geographic footprint than the WCHA’s, which stretches from Alaska to Alabama.
UAA hockey coach Matt Curley said Wednesday afternoon that he hadn’t heard about Huntsville’s letter of withdrawal.
“I am confident that our Commissioner and the athletic directors at these institutions are working hard to find solutions for the viability of the 21-22 season,” he said by text.
All but one of the nation’s 60 teams belong to conferences. The lone independent is Arizona State, which is seeking membership in a conference. In an interview with College Hockey News last spring, athletic director Ray Anderson said the Sun Devils likely won’t be offered membership in a conference until the school “has a firm arena solution.”
Ground has not been broken for the proposed arena, an Arizona State spokesperson said Wednesday.
“That process is being finalized in the RFP stages,” spokesperson Mitchell Terrell said by email. “(The) plan is to have it ready for the 2021-22 season.”
News of Huntsville’s letter of withdrawal was first reported by Tech Hockey Guide.