Membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association women's league again will climb to eight starting in the 2021-22 season after St. Thomas was approved for admission.
The St. Paul, Minnesota, school became the first to get the NCAA's OK to move to Division I directly from Division III, a plan that was hastened by getting kicked out of its conference.
In May 2019, the Division III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics Conference cited competitive parity for removing the successful St. Thomas programs following the 2020-21 season.
The WCHA women's league, which includes the University of Wisconsin, has played as a seven-team entity since North Dakota dropped its program after the 2016-17 season.
The league's board of directors voted unanimously to admit St. Thomas, which had a stretch of six straight years with either a MIAC regular-season or playoff championship end in 2019-20.
"On behalf of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, I am pleased to welcome the University of St. Thomas to our league," said Jason King, the WCHA women's board chairman and senior associate athletic director at UW. "As we've gone through the membership process with St. Thomas, I have been impressed with their leadership at all levels, as well as their vision for their University, their athletics programs and their women's hockey team. This is a big win not only for our league, but also for the sport of women's hockey."
The Tommies will be immediately eligible for WCHA postseason play in 2021-22.
Most of St. Thomas' 21 teams are joining the Summit League. The school has options available for a men's hockey conference, including the reformed Central Collegiate Hockey Association that's scheduled to split off seven teams from the WCHA starting in the 2021-22 season.
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