After much discussion and deliberation, the Big Ten athletic directors announced on Monday that they will recommend to the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors that men's ice hockey be an official conference sport starting with the 2013-14 season. This is a move up from the original expectations to start with the 2014-15 season, mostly due to the fact that construction/planning on Penn State's new ice arena is ahead of schedule and expected to be ready by the start of the 2013-14 season. The Big Ten season schedule will include 20 games against Big Ten opponents (4 games against each team in the conference), leaving about 14 non-conference games to be filled by other opponents.
This move will surely continue to make waves in the college hockey world. While the WCHA might be able to survive losing Wisconsin and Minnesota, the teams in the CCHA might struggle to stay afloat after losing Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State. No agreements have been made with the teams leaving their respective conferences, but there will definitely be discussions to help make sure that the smaller schools (who rely on the big name schools to draw revenue) don't completely collapse. It will be interesting to see if Penn State helps out with this as well, or if the Nittany Lions will work more with the large number of east coast teams available to play.
The push for the BTHC is not surprising, but I still would have preferred to have it pushed off for a few more seasons. This would give Penn State more time to improve their brand new program, and would give the small schools the chance to start adjusting their schedules to prepare for the removal of these tops teams from their regular schedule. But it is what it is now, and the Nittany Lions will have a permanent home after one season as an independent.