Reports: Notre Dame leaving Hockey East for Big Ten

Scott McLaughlin
March 22, 2016 - 4:58 pm
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The Notre Dame-in-Hockey East experiment was short-lived. The Fighting Irish will be leaving the league to join the Big Ten after the 2016-17 season, according to multiple reports. Notre Dame joined Hockey East in 2013 after the CCHA was disbanded. It reached the Hockey East semifinals at TD Garden in its first season in the league and reached the NCAA tournament in two of its three years as a Hockey East member, including this season. Notre Dame will become the Big Ten's first affiliate member in hockey, as the conference previously had a policy against affiliate members in any sport. However, it recently ended that precedent by adding Johns Hopkins as an affiliate member in men's lacrosse. Hockey East, meanwhile, will return to an all-New England league with Notre Dame's departure. While the Fighting Irish certainly had their perks -- they're a name brand, they're a strong program, and they have their own TV deal with NBC that led to more TV games for the rest of Hockey East -- many fans around the league consistently lamented having a member from outside New England. There had been plenty of rumors that Notre Dame was never truly happy in Hockey East, due mostly to having to travel much more than the other 11 teams, so this news isn't a total shock. Moving to the Big Ten will reunite the program with former CCHA rivals Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. According to College Hockey News, Notre Dame will owe Hockey East $250,000 as an exit fee, in addition to what it still owes on its entrance fee. The big question from a Hockey East perspective now becomes whether the league will fill Notre Dame's spot and stay at 12 teams, and if it does, who will be the newcomer? Quinnipiac and Holy Cross are sure to come up (and already have, to be honest), as both would make sense. Quinnipiac would instantly add another national championship-caliber program, while Holy Cross would need to go through a build-up process similar to the one UConn is currently going through.