June 25, 1998
FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. -- The Central Collegiate Hockey Association has admitted the University of Nebraska-Omaha as its 12th member, first-year commissioner Tom Anastos announced today. The Mavericks will begin league play in the 1999-2000 season.
The CCHA began as a four-team league in 1971-72 and has produced seven NCAA champions over the past 15 seasons. The current alignment includes six teams from the state of Michigan--Ferris State, Lake Superior State, the University of Michigan, Michigan State, Northern Michigan and Western Michigan--plus three teams from the state of Ohio: Bowling Green, Miami University and Ohio State. Notre Dame and Alaska-Fairbanks round out the current 11-team format.
The scheduling format for the 1999-2000 season is yet to be determined, with the possibilities including two six-team divisions. Teams currently play every other CCHA team three times, leaving just a handful of non-conference games in the regular season schedule.
Nebraska-Omaha announced the formation of its hockey program in May of 1996 before beginning play as a Division program in 1997-98, when it ranked second in the nation for average attendance. Mavericks head coach Mike Kemp previously was an assistant coach under Jeff Sauer at the University of Wisconsin.
Omaha is known as one of the Midwest's top hockey areas, with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Junior Hockey League perennially drawing average crowds in excess of 5,000 fans. Current Notre Dame player Andy Jurkowski and former Irish student assistant coach Justin Theel both played junior hockey with the Lancers before enrolling at Notre Dame.
FOURTH-YEAR NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH DAVE POULIN: "I think this is terrific for the CCHA and great for college hockey. The most significant thing is the time frame, in the fact that UNO was able to have such a strong first year in Division I that they would be admitted to a quality league like the CCHA. It speaks volume for the support, attendance and personnel that UNO hockey has developed over the past year. I called Mike Kemp and congratulated him. He's done a great job and UNO joining the CCHA will make college hockey that much stronger."
UNO CHANCELLOR NANCY BELCK: "This is a great day for UNO and the Omaha metropolitan community. Conference play will add to the excitement that has been generated in the first year of Maverick hockey. I look forward to UNO competing in one of the nation's top conferences and we are very thankful to the CCHA member schools for giving us this opportunity."
UNO ATHLETIC DIRECTOR BOB DANENHAUER: "The strongest attractions for us to join the CCHA were the financial benefits, the fact that we can begin play (in 1999-2000), and the fan appeal that the CCHA member schools will have in our area."
UNO HEAD COACH MIKE KEMP: "The players and coaching staff are extremely excited about the prospect of playing in such a prestigious conference as the CCHA in the 1999-2000 season. This means that all of our original players, with the exception of three seniors, will be have the opportunity to play for a conference championship. ... It will mark another very exciting chapter in the evolution of our young hockey program."
UNO INSTITUTIONAL REPRESENTATIVE DR. RICHARD FLYNN: "Everything considered, we determined the CCHA to be the best fit for our university and out hockey program. ... We also were impressed with the encouragement shown by the CCHA athletic directors, coaches and faculty representatives."