Penn State was the first domino to fall, starting the college hockey shakeup that will take place a year from now when it announced in fall of 2010 that it would be adding the sport to its varsity roll.
On Tuesday, outgoing University of Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi said he had hoped that Penn State would have joined the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, rather than have the Big Ten start a college hockey conference.
"I'm disappointed (the WCHA) broke up," he said, speaking to members of the Minnesota Associated Press Sports Association during its annual meeting in Minneapolis. "I would have liked to see it stay. My initial hope was Penn State would go to the CCHA. ... I think things would have been fine."
But with six teams carrying the sport, the Big Ten formed its hockey league, setting a course for 2013-14. That, of course, led to the creation of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, the demise of the CCHA and a leftover group of nine teams from the CCHA and the WCHA that will make up the latter.
But during a discussion that often touched on Minnesota's own revenues and finances, Maturi said he is worried about what the coming shakeup will mean.
"I am concerned about the future of what will now become the WCHA and therefore the future of hockey," he said. "We only have 60 members. It's not like we can afford to lose a lot of members."
Maturi said Minnesota has vowed to continue to play all of it state rivals, including Minnesota State. That includes going on the road to Mankato, Bemidji, St. Cloud and Duluth from time to time. There will also be an annual "Beanpot"-type tournament at the Xcel Energy Center that will feature the Gophers and three of the other four Minnesota teams. The team out of the rotation would meet the Gophers twice that season, Maturi said.
Maturi, 67, who has worked at other schools with Division I hockey, including Wisconsin, Miami and Denver, said he understood why WCHA representatives approved the so-called "Alaska Plan" that will pit Anchorage and Fairbanks against each other during the first round of the WCHA tournament. While he said he does not have intiment knowledge of the new WCHA's plans, he assumes that travel costs will be going up and revenues likely will be going down, which will be a challenge.
"I think it's what the conference had to do," he said. "You've got to be realistic also."
Maturi said the cost of having two teams flying to or from Alaska on five days notice is crippling.
"That's going to be as expensive as every dollar they take in on their tournament," he said. "It's crazy. It's just the reality of it. So what they did to me made some sense from a fiscal responsibility standpoint."