The NCHC is growing!! For the first time since play began in 2013, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) is expanding. Arizona State University has been accepted as the ninth member of the Conference beginning with the 2024-2025 season, the NCHC Board of Directors announced Wednesday.
Arizona State will join Colorado College, the University of Denver, Miami University, the University of Minnesota Duluth, the University of Nebraska Omaha, the University of North Dakota, St. Cloud State University and Western Michigan University in composing the NCHC’s membership.
“On behalf of the entire NCHC Board, I am thrilled to welcome Arizona State University to the elite conference in college hockey,” said NCHC Chair of the Board and University of North Dakota President Andy Armacost. “ASU's commitment to excellence on the ice, in the classroom, and in the lives of student-athletes reflects the ideals of the NCHC, and we couldn't be more pleased to have them as our newest member.”
Arizona State elevated its hockey program to varsity status for the 2015-16 season and has quickly become a nationally competitive program under 15-year head coach Greg Powers. In 2018-19, the Sun Devils earned their first-ever top-10 win, while receiving their first national ranking soon after. In only its third full season, ASU secured an at-large berth to the 2019 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament, becoming the fastest start-up program ever to qualify for the men’s hockey championship tournament.
“Since the inception of NCAA Division I ice hockey at ASU, we’ve searched for a conference that embodies our commitment to the student-athlete experience, academics, championship performance, and elite competition. After a successful first season at Mullett Arena, the time is right to secure membership within a distinguished conference and we’re thrilled to join the NCHC,” said Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson. “This membership further enriches and empowers our commitment to providing the best experience for our students, fans, alumni, and community stakeholders. In exchange, we look forward to hosting our fellow NCHC member institutions and contributing to the standard of excellence set by the conference and its historic programs.”
In the fall of 2022, Arizona State opened Mullett Arena on campus, which serves as the new home for Sun Devil Hockey, as well as the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. Mullett Arena seats 5,000 people for hockey games (942 seats for students), with the NHL adding a $19.7 million annex onto Mullett Arena, which includes state-of-the-art locker rooms, a training room, a strength and conditioning room and more. ASU averaged more than 4,600 fans per game during its first season at Mullett Arena, ranking 12th nationally in average attendance. Colorado College was the first NCHC team to visit Mullett Arena back on Oct. 21-22. Mullett Arena can also host concerts and other family events year-round.
“The NCHC is ecstatic to welcome Arizona State University as a member beginning in the 2024-25 season. Since its inception, the NCHC has been defined by member institutions with a commitment to nationally competitive hockey programs while providing a first-class student-athlete experience. ASU has demonstrated this commitment throughout its program, including the opening of Mullett Arena last fall,” said NCHC Commissioner Heather Weems. “As the NCAA Division I landscape continues to change, ASU advances the NCHC’s competitive and fiscal stability while providing a destination trip for NCHC member institutions’ alumni and fans. We are also excited to introduce ASU fans and the western U.S. market to the strong traditions of our member institutions and to create new rivalries within the NCHC.”
Arizona State University is a comprehensive public research university located in Tempe, Arizona. It has an enrollment of 57,588 students on its Tempe campus and is the largest public institution in the country. In total, ASU has 112,171 undergraduate students and 30,445 graduate students, including 62,551 online students. Arizona State has been ranked the No. 1 university in the United States for innovation by U.S. News & World Report for eight straight years. ASU is also the No. 1 public university in the U.S. chosen by international students.
“This will go down as one of the most influential days in the history of Sun Devil Hockey. To be accepted as a member into such a tremendous conference like the NCHC with such historic college hockey programs is an honor we will never take for granted,” said Arizona State head coach Greg Powers.
“The ability to develop rivalries in a conference where hockey is paramount to all its members, chase the Penrose Cup, and compete in postseason championships is going to be a welcomed challenge for our student-athletes and fans,” Powers continued. “We can’t wait to get started and do our part in contributing to the NCHC, the greatest single-sport conference in college athletics.”
Arizona State will become an official member of the NCHC on July 1, 2024.
The NCHC has won five NCAA National Championships in its first 10 seasons, with Denver (2017, 2022) and Minnesota Duluth (2018, 2019) winning two each and North Dakota (2016) winning one. NCHC teams have combined to make 13 Frozen Four appearances in conference history, as well as 35 NCAA Tournament berths.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT ASU TO THE NCHC
Chair of the NCHC Athletic Council and Colorado College Athletic Director Lesley Irvine:
“This is a defining moment for the NCHC and college hockey. Arizona State joining the league speaks to the national expansion of the Conference and welcoming another program that prioritizes hockey at the highest levels. The value adds are multiple and include the student-athlete experience and engaging alumni, media and community in new regions. Arizona State is a great fit for the NCHC and we look forward to them being a part of this great conference.”
University of Nebraska Omaha Athletic Director Adrian Dowell:
“The rise of ASU Hockey has been impressive, and this is a tremendous addition to the Conference. The Sun Devils are one of the largest brands in all of college athletics and their accessible location gives the NCHC an even stronger footprint in the West.”
University of North Dakota Head Coach Brad Berry:
“We are looking forward to Arizona State University Hockey’s entrance into the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Over the past 10 years of its existence, the NCHC has solidified its position as the top league for collegiate hockey. The NCHC’s premier and powerful brand will only be strengthened by the addition of ASU Hockey.”
University of Denver Head Coach David Carle:
“On behalf of the University of Denver, I can say that we are excited about the addition of Arizona State to the NCHC. Their track record as an independent program and the construction of their new facility makes them a perfect fit for our conference. The most successful college hockey conference over the last decade just got better with today’s announcement. We look forward to the competition on the ice.”