It had been invited to the league, along with Alaska, Lake Superior State, Ferris State and Western Michigan. Alaska, Lake Superior and Ferris accepted almost immediately (following Northern Michigan), while Western Michigan opted for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, announcing that decision Thursday a few hours before St. Cloud.
But there have been some interesting rumblings today surrounding Bowling Green.
First, Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune writer Kevin Gordon wrote about the deadline extension and reported that there is speculation that some Atlantic Hockey programs might be interested in the WCHA, too:
The extension further fueled speculation Atlantic Hockey members Canisius, Mercyhurst, Niagara and Robert Morris are being considered for WCHA membership.
Those four schools have expressed an interest in leaving their present league because it offers only 12 scholarships, six below the NCAA maximum. The CCHA and the WCHA use the NCAA maximum.
Adding those four schools would help balance the revamped WCHA geographically. If BG and the four Atlantic Hockey schools joined the WCHA, the league would have 13 schools - six in the south/east; and seven in the north/west.
And it's not out of the question that Air Force, also a member of Atlantic Hockey, might consider a move to the WCHA.
On Friday, however, Duluth radio man Bruce Ciskie reported that Bowling Green has meet with those schools — Canisius, Mercyhurst, Niagara and Robert Morris — and another about joining forces. The other school is Buffalo, which does not have Division I hockey currently. That would be an interesting development, and one that might make more sense for Bowling Green.
UPDATE: More on those happenings from Kevin Gordon.
Meanwhile, here is my story from today's Free Press with some more reaction to St. Cloud's defection. Check out the timeline alongside it that shows the changes that have taken place in the last year since Penn State announced that it would be adding hockey.
For more on St. Cloud State's decision, read Mick Hatten's story from the St. Cloud Times. A couple of interesting comments by North Dakota athletic director Brian Faison, who attended Thursday's press conference:
“It was a very involved process from our standpoint in terms of what we were asking from the schools for information — from institutional profile, academic profile. Lots of questions about program, staffing size, budgets, success, ticket sales, types of ticket sales all factored in. It was a very deliberate process ... We tried to keep it as quiet and confidential as possible.”