I read a rumor that the MAC is pushing its schools to sponsor scholarship hockey to make it a conference sport.
Miami, BGU, and WMU already play D1 hockey.
Buffalo, Kent St, Ohio, and EMU all play at the top club level.
Toledo, CMU, NILL, and Akron play at a lesser club level.
Only Ball St does field any type of team.
If that was to happen it would make things interesting.
I see Denver joining Air Force as UConn's replacement in Atlantic Hockey as they'd make a great travel partner and are a private school which fits the AH model.
Also I could see North Dakota & Neb-Omaha joining MAC hockey as affiliate members (as they they just booted all there non-D1 affiliates), leaving the rest of the WCHA and NCHC to merge and for a 12 team conference made up of mostly D2 members.
A few years ago the Olympics eliminated wrestling as one of their sports, but have since reinstated it. At the time I saw it as a possible means to an end - i.e., MAC hockey. The six MAC schools that offer wrestling are the four with D1 club hockey, plus CMU and NIU. Dropping wrestling would free up about 12 of the 18 scholarships needed for hockey, making it a relatively easy move from a Title IX standpoint. Now that wrestling is back in the Olympics, I don't know the status of MAC hockey. I'm certainly in favor of it, but I'm also not a wrestling fan, so I'm not unbiased. It could be that the wheels were already set in motion before the reinstatement, but we'll just have to wait and see.
Denver to Atlantic Hockey is a non-starter. The AHA is a cost containment league that limits scholarships to about 12. Also, travel partners are not relevant in hockey; teams usually play a two-game series, typically on Friday and Saturday evenings. Finally, I’ve never seen it in writing, but it is my understanding that Air Force provides free flights to/from Colorado Springs for AFA teams; otherwise there is no way Air Force would be allowed in that conference.
I'm not sure the MAC would want North Dakota, Nebraska Omaha, and Denver because they are trying to cut back on travel. I think they might prefer Robert Morris, Niagara, and Canisius which are closer. I think the NCHC missed an opportunity when they included lower division schools (Colorado College, Duluth, St. Cloud) instead of Bowling Green, which would have resulted in a smaller conference, but evenly balanced between west and midwest. Could be wrong, but I don't see North Dakota and Denver abandoning the NCHC so soon, as they were the driving force behind its creation.
However, I do agree that the lower division schools should go back to the WCHA . . . except for the Alaska schools, which I've heard are planning to move up to full D1 status - and presumably join the WAC. In my opinion, the objective should be to put the D1 schools in separate conferences from the lower division schools.