The New England Women's Hockey Alliance (NEWHA) formally announced its intent to be recognized as an NCAA National Collegiate women's ice hockey conference in a joint announcement earlier today.
Comprised of two NCAA Division I institutions and four NCAA Division II institutions, founding members of the NEWHA include Franklin Pierce University, Post University (Conn.), Sacred Heart University, Saint Anselm College, and Saint Michael's College. Long Island University Brooklyn is slated to join the league in 2019-20 as its sixth member.
"The one common point of emphasis during all meetings and phone calls leading up to today's formal NEWHA announcement was a commitment to enhancing the student-athlete experience for women's ice hockey on our respective campuses," said Daron Montgomery, Saint Anselm College Director of Athletics. "This includes our intent to create a path to postseason eligibility for current (and future) NEWHA members."
Per NCAA guidelines, the women's ice hockey National Collegiate Championship is a combined championship opportunity open to all Division I and Division II programs that sponsor the sport.
Robert M. DeGregorio, Jr. has agreed to serve as NEWHA Commissioner in an appointment that commences in conjunction with today's announcement. DeGregorio, who boasts 30 years of administrative experience at the Division I and Division II level, also serves as the commissioner of two NCAA ice hockey conferences, the Atlantic Hockey Association (men's) and College Hockey America (women's).
"On behalf of the other NEWHA athletic directors and administrators, we are grateful to Bob (DeGregorio) for his willingness to lead our league," remarked Montgomery. "Bob's passion for women's ice hockey and knowledge of the sport are invaluable for the NEWHA and its member institutions as we forge ahead."
NEWHA administrators convened at the National Hockey League headquarters (New York City) in late July to finalize and solidify its status as an official NCAA conference and discuss organizational details. These individuals were joined by representatives from the NHL, College Hockey, Inc., the Northeast-10 Conference, and College Hockey America for discussion regarding the growth of women's ice hockey and ways to further competitive opportunities for women.
What others are saying about the formation of the New England Women's Hockey Alliance
"The NHL is proud to aid and support the growth of women's college hockey, and we look forward to seeing the NEWHA flourish. These new opportunities will inspire the next generation to join the hockey family, and we expect to see this trend of growth continue for the women's game. The addition of women's ice hockey at LIU-Brooklyn next season is just one example." – Kevin Westgarth, Vice President, Business Development & International Affairs, National Hockey League
"Long Island University Brooklyn's addition of women's hockey and the NEWHA's desire to compete at the highest NCAA level is another exciting example of the growth occurring in college hockey. We appreciate the commitment of the NEWHA member schools to their hockey-playing student-athletes and the continued support of the NHL to assist in creating more NCAA hockey opportunities." – Mike Snee, Executive Director, College Hockey, Inc.
"This is a great development in the continued growth of women's college hockey. This will increase the number of and quality of opportunities for female hockey players and for coaches of the women's game. I salute Commissioner DeGregorio for his leadership in helping this come to fruition." – Joe Bertagna, Hockey East Commissioner and American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) Executive Director
"I had the pleasure of attending the NEWHA meeting [in July] in New York. It was exciting to be part of the discussion centered on ways to strengthen the experience and create more ice hockey opportunities at the Division I and Division II levels for young women. This league will provide its current and future members both stability and growth." – Julie Ruppert, Commissioner, Northeast-10 Conference
- NEWHA member institutions have unanimously agreed to adhere to NCAA Division I recruiting rules and will begin to offer athletic scholarship aid to recruits, effective with the 2019-20 academic year.
- NEWHA member institutions have begun to schedule Division I opponents for 2019-20 and will continue to explore non-conference Division I scheduling opportunities moving forward.
- The NEWHA was established as a scheduling alliance for the 2017-18 season during which Montgomery served as its executive director.
- In 2017-18, the NEWHA's inaugural season, Saint Anselm earned the league's regular season title and Sacred Heart won the first-ever NEWHA postseason tournament championship.
- The 2019 NEWHA postseason semifinal and championship games are scheduled for Feb. 23-24 and will be played at Sullivan Arena on campus at Saint Anselm.
- LIU Brooklyn announced the addition of women's ice hockey as a varsity sport on Sept. 10, 2018, named Rob Morgan as its first head coach, and expressed its intent to join the NEWHA for the 2019-20 season. (https://bit.ly/2MiAxhA)
- The NEWHA league office will be incorporated and based in Winthrop, Massachusetts.