I am the coach of an ACHA Division 1 team that gets no funding, administrative help, or preferential treatment through admissions. I will be one of the first to tell you that the ACHA is not perfect and I don’t agree with a lot of what has happened the last few years, but to characterize the meetings as “being run by good old boys in D1” is a joke.
Before all this started, the ACHA had over 500 teams. There were 60 teams in D1 (we just added 12 teams and created a new auto bid but it is what it is). The last 5 years, we have had roughly 30-35 voting members in the D1 meetings. How can 35 votes, which I promise you are never in unison, be the deciding factor in an organization of 500 members, when over 100 attend the meetings each year?
If you tell me that most other teams can’t make it to Naples, I would respond and say that again, we get no funding from the school… we stay in the same hotel chain all year long to accrue points to stay for free in Naples. Whoever flies takes the cheapest flight available within 2-3 hours of Naples and Priceline’s a rental car for $20 per day. We take these costs into account when we make our budget for the year. There have been instances of us flying in on Friday and out on Saturday, but it was important to us to have someone at the meeting. The total cost is usually somewhere around $500-$600, and could easily be offset by a team of 20-30 players. To not do so, in my opinion, isn’t the fault of the ACHA, but of the individual teams in question. It took more than the 35 D1 teams to vote down the absentee ballot proposal this year, and that seems to be a major dividing factor here.
And to the comment that this is “club hockey” … yes, it is. But myself and MOST (not all) view the ACHA (especially D1) as a viable alternative to NCAA D3 schools, and sell it to players as such. And whether it’s staying close to home, wanting to go to a big school, or a consideration of majors, we land players with NCAA options on a semi-regular basis. With that in mind, there have been a few incidents over the past few seasons that give the entire ACHA a black eye, and typically have come from the lower divisions. Whether it’s the goalie from Virginia drinking a beer on the ice, or the kid from wherever this year vaping in the penalty box, that makes the rest of the ACHA look like a joke. If teams with players like that are leaving, I’m all for it.
Finally, the promises coming out of the CHF sound a lot like what was coming from the former Executive Director is the ACHA. Most “sponsorships” obtained the last few years have brought in zero revenue, just discounts. He made grand promises about sponsors, and told me and a few other coaches that the Dallas Stars were offering $250k for travel reimbursement to Nationals this past year. When the Dallas contingent presented in the general session in 2018, they very clearly had no idea about this “promise” they had made. I would caution everyone to be very careful about believing or trusting someone with a track record over the last 3 years like his. But maybe that’s just me.