WCHA to continue negotiations with Omaha
Following a conference call between Western Collegiate Hockey Association athletic directors and league commissioner Bruce McLeod Wednesday, negotiations regarding the admittance of the University of Nebraska-Omaha to the WCHA will continue.
Bemidji State University athletic director Rick Goeb said McLeod would be going back to UNO to present options that the member schools found acceptable.
"He's going to present options the WCHA agreed on during the conference call," Goeb said. "The league has now given (McLeod) more direction on what's acceptable as far as terms of a possible agreement.
"The ball is in UNO's court now. It's their call if they want to accept the recommendations," Goeb added.
Contrary to previous media reports, there was no actual "straw poll" Wednesday in which a vote was taken on terms of a possible agreement between Omaha and the WCHA.
Instead discussions were held concerning what terms the league athletic directors felt comfortable in offering. The terms could include such items as league entrance fees, the sharing of postseason revenues and when the team would join the league.
"We listened to Bruce talk about the expansion process and each of us had a chance to provide input on the idea of -- Is this a direction that we want him to pursue?," Minnesota-Duluth athletic director Bob Neilson told the Duluth News Tribune.
UNO has not at this point applied to join the WCHA. Bemidji State made a formal application in March. In April the league decided to put BSU's application on hold while it searched for a 12th team in order to better address league scheduling issues.
At that time McLeod was directed to be more aggressive in seeking out a 12th team. Focus immediately went to UNO, who was sought out because of its location and revenue potential.
What appears to be happening now is the typical give and take of any type of business negotiation.
McLeod entered into negotiations with UNO and then reported back to league athletic directors. Discussions were held this week on various options and now McLeod will go back to UNO with a more clear directive from league officials.
McLeod was scheduled to meet with UNO officials Thursday and the Duluth News Tribune is reporting that an announcement could come as soon as Friday.
The Colorado Springs Gazette reported late Thursday that a second conference call between WCHA athletic directors took place Thursday night.
Colorado College athletic director Ken Ralph told The Gazette that Omaha is the main program being discussed but Alaska-Fairbanks is another possibility.
"This is about our league trying to help college hockey by letting in Bemidji," Ralph told The Gazette.
BSU is anxiously awaiting news on conference affiliation. Its current league, College Hockey America, will dissolve after the 2009-10 season.