ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

College hockey coaches hear about the potential transformation of NCAA sports

At the annual American Hockey Coaches Association meeting in Naples, Fla., an NCAA rep told coaches to be ready for a new world in college sports.

naplesmeetings.jpg
National Collegiate Hockey Conference coaching staffs meet in Naples, Fla.
The NCHC / Twitter
We are part of The Trust Project.

GRAND FORKS — The most eye-opening moment of the American Hockey Coaches Association convention Thursday came when the NCAA's Greg Dana spoke to the group.

Dana gave the coaches, who had assembled in Naples Grande Beach Resort, an idea of what legislative changes could potentially be coming in the wake of last summer's Supreme Court ruling in the Alston case.

The possibilities on the table could significantly change college athletics. They include:

1. No scholarship limits (the Division-I limit currently is 18).

2. No limits on the number of full-time coaches on staff (it's currently three).

ADVERTISEMENT

3. Unlimited player transfers without having to sit out a year (players currently can transfer once without having to sit out).

The future of college sports is trending toward what's best for the athletes. Coaches have been told that legislation and guidelines will be more likely to focus on minimums than maximums.

If those changes go through, it's possible that individual conferences will attempt to put limits on things like scholarship numbers, but they also would open themselves to the same lawsuit the NCAA faced and lost.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions right now as the NCAA's Division I Transformation Committee develops "a set of Division I commitments, regulations and membership obligations that directly respond to the set of issues that continually challenge the division."

At this point, everyone is waiting to see what changes will come from the Transformation Committee. But the coaches have been warned they could be substantial.

Overtime a discussion point

Coaches also discussed the current overtime procedure, which began two seasons ago.

During the regular season, if a game is tied after regulation, it goes straight into a five-minute, three-on-three overtime.

If someone scores in the three-on-three, the game goes down as a win or a loss on their record, but instead of a full value win, it's counted as 55 percent for the winning team and 45 percent for the losing team in the Pairwise Rankings formula. Therefore, it's valued far closer to a tie than a win.

ADVERTISEMENT

There were 129 college hockey games decided in overtime prior to the NCAA tournament selection show this season. Using CHN's Pairwise Customizer tool , the Herald changed all 129 overtime results to ties to see how much things would have changed if overtime wasn't a thing.

The answer: Almost nothing.

If there was no such thing as overtime, and every game that was tied after 60 minutes went into the books that way, the exact same 16 teams would have been in the NCAA tournament.

The No. 1 seeds would have been the exact same four teams. The No. 2 seeds would have been the exact same four teams. The No. 3 seeds would have been the exact same four teams. The No. 4 seeds would have been the exact same four teams.

There would have been just two differences. Western Michigan and Denver would have flip-flopped spots at No. 3 and 4 overall, while St. Cloud State and Notre Dame would have flipped at Nos. 9 and 10. The committee ended up flipping the Huskies and Irish, anyway, to avoid a UND-St. Cloud State first-round matchup.

When this overtime format was instituted, coaches were concerned that overtime wins and losses would play an outsized role, but clearly, they're having very little impact on the Pairwise Rankings and who goes to the NCAA tournament.

Even so, now the coaches are worried about the appearance of their records, because on the surface, an overtime loss looks like a full loss, even though it is not.

There may not be a good solution for this latest concern. But it's also not a pressing one. The Pairwise Rankings and league standings are properly dealing with the valuations of overtime wins and losses. The coaches' concern is mainly about appearance.

ADVERTISEMENT

It's one that could backfire on some coaches if they get their wish of not classifying overtime games as wins and losses. Many coaches have win benchmarks built into their contracts, and if you're taking away overtime wins, fewer will hit their bonuses.

It also will add significant confusion to fans, who could potentially watch their team win an overtime game, only to find out it's called a tie.

Transfer portal window?

Coaches largely seemed to be in agreement about installing a window for when players can enter the NCAA transfer portal.

Right now, there's a closing date. Players have to be in by May 1, unless they have aid cut or if there's a coaching change after that date. But there's no opening date.

Discussion centered around setting March 15 as an opening date for the portal and keeping May 1 as the closing date.

Fewer game misconducts?

Coaches also suggested trying to limit the number of players getting game misconducts, which means that player is ejected from the game.

Instead of automatically attaching game misconducts to certain five-minute majors, coaches suggested giving officials more leeway to call standalone five-minute major penalties.

One play in particular helped spark this discussion. Michigan Tech star player Brian Halonen was ejected just 3 minutes, 17 seconds into the first period of an NCAA tournament game against Minnesota Duluth for a boarding major. Most observers did not believe the hit should have warranted an ejection.

UND was called for seven game misconducts during the 2021-22 season. Tyler Kleven was called for three, while Chris Jandric, Louis Jamernik, Cooper Moore and Jackson Kunz each had one.

Revamping video review

In an effort to cut down on the number of video reviews during a game, a couple different ideas were discussed. They both revolved around forcing coaches to challenge calls on the ice and penalizing them if they're wrong.

The two main ways to penalize coaches for failed challenges: 1. loss of their timeout; 2. a two-minute minor penalty for delay of game.

The NCAA Rules Committee will discuss these ideas in the coming months.

Every other year, the Rules Committee is allowed to make rules changes. This is a rules change year.

Quick hits

  • There was some talk about changing NCAA regionals from neutral sites to home sites. A few coaches spoke in favor of moving them to campus venues, though nothing is imminent. NCAA regionals are locked in through 2026.
  • NCHC outgoing commissioner Josh Fenton attended the league's meetings and received the 2022 NCHC Distinguished Service Award. This weekend marked Fenton's final work with the NCHC before transitioning to commissioner of the Summit League.
Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA FIGHTING HAWKS
Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
What to read next
The 6-foot-1 Chicago Steel power forward is expected to come to Grand Forks next fall.
GRAND FORKS — It’s been an interesting nonconference season for the UND women’s basketball team.
Minnesota (4-5, 0-2 Big Ten) has lost four straight games.
Minnesota finishes with a 22-9 record.