North Dakota to join the WCHA's women's league in 2004-2005
Friday, May 2, 2003
MADISON, Wisc. – The Western Collegiate Hockey Association has voted
unanimously to admit the University of North Dakota as a full-time women’s
Association member commencing with the 2004-05 season. The decision came at
the WCHA’s annual meeting held last week at Marco Island, Fla.

The addition of the University of North Dakota will bring the number
of women’s conference teams to eight and marks the first expansion of the
four-year-old league. The Sioux will be joining Bemidji State University,
University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota State
University, Ohio State University, St. Cloud State University and University
of Wisconsin. UND, which marked it’s first season as a Division 1 women’s
team in 2002-03 and plays it’s home games at spectacular Ralph Engelstad
Arena in Grand Forks, N.D., will begin playing a full 24-game conference
schedule in 2004-05 and will also be eligible for post-season competition in
’04-05.

Said Roger Thomas, Director of Athletics at the University of North
Dakota, “On behalf of the UND Athletic Department, I want to express how
excited we are with the invitation for our women’s hockey team to join the
women’s WCHA. It’s truly an honor to join the league that has produced
several national championship teams and our hope is to develop a team that
will compete at the national level.”

In issuing a joint statement on behalf of the WCHA, Associate
Commissioner Sara R. Martin and Minnesota State University Faculty
Representative and Chair of the Association Ken Anglin said, “We are both
excited and delighted to welcome University of North Dakota into the Western
Collegiate Hockey Association women’s family for 2004-05. An original and
highly-successful member of the men’s WCHA since 1951, UND is a quality
academic and athletic institution with an oustanding reputation and this is,
indeed, a perfect fit.”

Said Shantel Rivard, UND Head Coach, “Of course we are excited about
being accepted into the WCHA, the premier league in the country. Throughout
the waiting period, it has felt like the WCHA were our foster parents, who
were waiting for the official adoption papers to be signed. Now it is
official – we will join the family in the fall of 2004. I look forward to
the competition, the comraderie, and the traditions of the WCHA.”

The WCHA admitted University of North Dakota to the women’s league
without lifting it’s current moratorium on expansion, due to the
institution’s membership in the men’s league and the benefits that
long-standing membership provided.

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s women’s league, founded
in 1999-2000, has already produced four consecutive national championship
teams in it’s first four seasons, with the Minnesota Golden Gophers winning
in 2000 and the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs capturing the NCAA crown in 2001,
2002 and 2003.
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