WHAC Adds Men’s Ice Hockey as a Conference Sport
WHAC Conference Office
The Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) is making history, again. The league becomes the only conference in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) to currently sponsor men’s ice hockey as a varsity sport. It’s the third sport, after lacrosse and bowling, the WHAC added that at that time no other conference in the NAIA sponsored.
The addition brings the total number of sports sponsored by the WHAC to 23 varsity sports – 11 men, 11, women, 1 coed – and ties the league with the Appalachian Athletic Conference, the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, and the Mid-South Conference for the most varsity sports.
“The WHAC is excited to bring the sport of hockey under our championship structure,” said commissioner Rob Miller. “Hockey is one of the top sports in our geographical area and we are fortunate to offer this opportunity to the WHAC community.”
Five schools currently offer the sport: Aquinas, Indiana Tech, Lawrence Tech, Rochester, and UM-Dearborn. Concordia is adding the sport for the 2018-19 academic season. The inaugural year will feature a conference tournament March 2-4 to determine the champion, but will not keep regular seasons standings. An All-Tournament Team will also be named during the first season.
The sport isn’t new to the NAIA. Men’s ice hockey was a vibrant sport in the NAIA from 1968-1984 before programs began migrating to other associations as sponsoring schools dwindled.
Offering a sport without an NAIA national championship opportunity is nothing new for the league. When the WHAC started men’s and women’s lacrosse and bowling in 2012, the NAIA did not offer postseason opportunities. The NAIA now hosts a national invitational for both lacrosses and bowling is listed as an emerging sport on the NAIA website.