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WCHA expected to notify Nebraska-Omaha on possible acceptance Thursday

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The Western Collegiate Hockey Association is expected to notify Nebraska-Omaha Thursday whether it plans accept the school into the league based on terms negotiated by commissioner Bruce McLeod.

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The 10 WCHA athletic directors held a conference call Wednesday night to informally vote on the tentative terms, which could include a reduced entrance fee and immediate sharing of postseason revenue.

Immediate results on the straw poll were not available when this edition of the Herald went to press.

UND athletic director Brian Faison referred comment to the commissioner's office, and McLeod declined to discuss it until he communicated the results to Omaha.

If the terms are accepted by the athletic directors, the dominoes soon could fall in the league's bid to expand to 12 teams.

Bemidji State applied for membership in March. It desperately is seeking conference affiliation with the dissolving of College Hockey America after the 2009-10 season.

Last month, the league decided to put Bemidji State's application on hold while it searched for a 12th team, which would benefit the league in terms of scheduling and revenue. The league quickly targeted Omaha for its location and revenue potential.

If Wednesday night's vote is positive, McLeod will put the terms in writing for Omaha and a formal letter of application will follow.

Once the application is in, the WCHA structure and executive committees are expected to approve it before sending it to a final vote among the league's 10 faculty athletic representatives. That would be the official vote.

The faculty reps could vote on Bemidji State and Omaha at the same time. Eight of 10 votes are needed for admission.

Omaha stands to benefit greatly if the league reduces or eliminates the membership fee. When Minnesota State-Mankato entered the WCHA in the late 1990s, it had to pay a sum of $120,000 during three years and it did not receive a cut of postseason revenue during that time period. Last season, the 10 WCHA teams shared nearly $100,000 at the end of the season.

McLeod maintains that he would like expansion, which would take affect in 2011-12, to be finalized this summer.

The Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

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