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Cost, not location, top postseason concern for new WCHA with two Alaska schools

April 11, 2012 - Matt Wellens

While much of fans attention when it comes to the new WCHA postseason format is centered around where the league championship will be held, the subcommittee charged with coming up with a scheduling and tournament format are worried about something else.

How will the cash-strapped WCHA cover the costs of a postseason tournament featuring not one, but two schools from the state of Alaska?

“I think whatever we chose for a playoff format is going to be the most important decision that we make in the WCHA,” said University of Alaska Fairbanks Athletic Director Forrest Karr on Tuesday in Marquette while giving a public presentation at Northern Michigan University.

Karr is one of three finalists for the vacant NMU athletic director’s position and currently a member of the new WCHA subcommittee charged with scheduling and postseason play.

“The costs of all the playoffs are shared among the member schools,” Karr said. “We’re going to have two Alaska schools in the new conference. That could mean travel to two different Alaska schools in the playoffs and if the Alaska schools win, it could mean travel back down for both Alaska schools. That has to get covered in some way.

“We’re really working through that decision. It’s a very deliberate process. It’s been long and we’re going to make sure we get that right to make sure the new WCHA can be a success long term.”

Karr said the WCHA has broken the nine members into three subcommittees. NMU is part of the marketing and television subcommittee while the third group is oversees governance and finance issues.

Television came up during the public question and answer session with Karr, with one NMU supporter concerned about the exposure the NCHC will get from the CBS Sports Network and the 18 games that will be shown on the hard to find station.

Karr downplayed the importance of television — Sound familiar?

— in answering the person’s concerns.

Karr said national television deals won’t impact the college hockey landscape as much as some may thing due to emerging technologies.

“Television is changing,” Karr said. “You now have handheld devices and technology that is high definition and just as high quality as your television at home. When we’re talking about recruiting and helping Walt (Kyle) recruit the best team possible, as long as we have very good video streaming, as long as we have very good multiple camera angles and we’re putting those games out there on the internet, within the next few years, your recruits that are in Ontario or wherever they happen to be from, they are going to be able to watch the games at home. Their parents are going to be able to watch them, their friends.

“It doesn’t really make any difference to them if its on NBC or a U.S. television network. They may even prefer that it be over the internet.”



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