Colorado State is getting screwed out of Nationals


#1

Autobids are great in that they help ensure that all leagues are represented at Nationals. That’s a noble goal, and I strongly support autobids in ACHA M1. But teams that make the Nationals field on merit do get bumped to make room for league autobids, so it makes sense that there should be rules on the books that hold ACHA M1 leagues to some minimum standard of quality to ensure that a league truly deserves an autobid.

I mean, how upset would you be if you were a team that got bumped by an autobid given to a league so terrible that they didn’t meet a fairly basic standard spelled out in the rulebook that all teams voted on and approved of?

Well, ask Colorado State!


NEWS FLASH … NECHL is not a very good league in ACHA M1.

The average ranking of their 10 members is below 45 in a field of 59 teams. In fact, their teams comprise 7 of the bottom 12 teams in the full computer rankings. That’s right, 70% of their league is in the bottom 20% of the full rankings. There’s more NECHL than non-NECHL down there!

Now, NECHL is not the only crappy league in ACHA M1, but they’re unique this season in that they have multiple(!) member teams that violate ACHA M1’s standards for leagues that deserve an autobid to Nationals.

2016-17 ACHA rulebook, Art.VI, Sec.3, D: Automatic National Tournament Bids:

NECHL members Cortland State and Binghamton did not play 20 games vs M1 competition. Cortland State only played 19. Binghamton only played 15! (They had 18 scheduled, but forfeited 3 of them for … reasons.)

According to the ACHA’s rules for National Tournament Team Selection in M1, NECHL does not meet the minimum standard for receiving an autobid to Nationals this season. But, because the ACHA rulebook is apparently more of a rule-of-thumb book, they’re getting an autobid anyway and a team that by rights deserves to be at Nationals is going to sit at home instead.

Were I Colorado State, I’d be steamed something awful. I’d demand my M1 dues back for the season at a bare minimum, and seriously reconsider membership in a divison with such a selective attitude toward the enforcement of their rules.

M1 is supposed to be the premier division in club hockey… the best of the best… the face of the ACHA.
“Rule book? What’s that?” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


#2

Well that sucks for CSU. But, to be fair, it is tough financially for some teams to schedule so many games. They may get in to the tournament, but eventually it will bite them in recruiting. Kids don’t want to pay for less games. They want the full benefits of their ACHA fees


#3

Binghamton and Cortland aren’t making it to Nationals any time soon. And I’m not sure either team even does any recruiting at all. That’s not quite the issue here.

The issue is that when you fill your league with teams like that it means your league is so bad it doesn’t deserve an autobid to Nationals. That’s not personal opinion, that’s the M1 division rule book… sorry, suggestion book.

Where’s Sheriff on this? Such blatant disregard for the rules calls for a lawman, eh? There’s still time to make this right, but him and the rest of the M1 brass are no doubt busy looking for a rug big enough to sweep this under. They screwed up big time, and they know it. The silence is deafening.


#4

I don’t disagree with you fish, but that’s a tough pill to swallow for Syracuse. All because Binghamton forfeited games! I’ve heard a lot of buzz this year about the ACHA brass trying to move teams around (getting the best schools to move up, as well as pushing schools like Binghamton to move down) so hopefully this gets sorted out for the future.

Of course, Binghamton and other schools in the NECHL have been downright awful for years, and should have been given the boot by the league, so there’s less argument from me about them. Especially if, God forbid, they’re still in the league next season. In that case you reap what you sow. But Cortland, hasn’t been any worse than your average bad team, and sometimes schools go through lulls. Ironically, I believe this has been an issue in the opposite direction for the last couple of years, as Niagara, Syracuse and Buffalo have all been hampered in their National ranking because of the garbage teams at the bottom of their league, and a couple of those seasons they finished right in that 15-20 mark.

I wonder what the verdict on this is/was. Regardless, I do believe, the entire ACHA D1 is owed an explanation.

-jwilson


#5

I hear ya, fish. And it’s good that you bring this up. Hopefully something will be done to prevent this in the future.


#6

[quote=“jwilson, post:4, topic:454”]
All because Binghamton forfeited games!
[/quote]Binghampton’s forfeits just make their margin look worse. They still only had 18 games scheduled. And they’re not the only NECHL team in violation.

It absolutely would be difficult for Syracuse, and I’d feel for them. But rules are rules and they’ll have a cloud of illegitimacy hanging over their head if they go to Nationals like this.

Bonus: I haven’t looked into this enough to be certain, and I don’t want to make it sound like this is all about Syracuse (it’s not; they’d be nearly as much a victim as Colorado State is now), but Syracuse may have already gone to Nationals on an invalid NECHL autobid a couple years ago per this exact same rule. Liberty is the team that I think got screwed that time. Just nobody noticed until now.


#7

Gentlemen,

I will attempt to shed some light on this issue as this post has remained civil and there are some well deserving student-athletes that are not going to experience Columbus. This issue surfaced with very little time to react, yet we mobilized everyone including our lawyer, to gather the facts and render a decision. Let me be clear, this was an issue that could only have a bad outcome or a worse outcome. Anyone who thinks we take these matters lightly or with malice is truly mistaken.

Fish, give me some slack - silence deafening?! I’m responding in less than 24 hours, man! This is a complex issue with facts still unfolding - I wanted to present as much information as I am able.

Here are the facts on the NECHL:

  1. Syracuse won the NECHL title and therefore would be awarded the auto-bid if the league complied with the by-laws.

  2. There were two teams in question that had been reported to have less than 20 games, and thus placing the league not in good standing with ACHA M1: Cortland and Binghampton.

  3. Cortland had actually played 20 games, but score sheets were not added into Pointstreak. They are being added this week.

  4. Binghampton played less than 20 games, however, the team actually quit on the league and has left, not only the NECHL, but the ACHA. They are no longer associated with the ACHA.

  5. The M1 Commissioner/ACHA expanded the 16 Team Nationals to 20 teams several years ago to accommodate auto-bids that were not ranked in the Top 16. The fact that not all those slots might be filled permits #17-#20 ranked teams to have a shot at earning a bid as well. This year #17 is the beneficiary of not having a fourth auto-bid. If we didn’t permit auto-bids, the M1 ACHA Championship Tournament would only be the top 16 teams.

Given those set of circumstances (those are the facts as best we have ascertained in such a short period of time), and the fact that this M1 policy rule had not been enforced in the past (not an excuse, but does hold some legal merit), the appeals committee decided to uphold the Commissioner’s ruling that Syracuse be afforded the auto-bid. We felt we could not hold the kids of Syracuse accountable for a team that has essentially quit on the league and the ACHA mid-season.

Having said that, there has been an additional substantial fine applied to the NECHL. If not paid by the start of next season, they will lose their auto-bid for the 2017-2018 season.

We all realize that either way this decision was made, there would no doubt be disappointment.

Now let me talk a bit about the future of M1. One of the most pressing issues for the ACHA, in my humble opinion, is the fact that several leagues/teams are playing above OR below their skill and organization level in their respective divisions. Working with the commissioners and several board members, we have been discussing policy changes that will incentivize teams to “move” to the division that will provide the best competition at that level while (and this is most important) creating more parity within our divisions. M1 has several leagues that are challenged every year to compete at that level, while M2 and M3 have “sandbaggers” that could easily compete at a higher level.

To that effect, there are several changes forthcoming in M1 to maintain a certain selectivity in the application process as well as a mandatory review of those that fail to maintain certain competitive level results as measured by membership approved metrics.

Under the proposed rule changes to the application process, only six teams would be eligible to apply for membership (and a coaches vote) due to sustained performance in M2, of which one was excepted this year, NYU. All six of these teams could compete with the upper 50% of M1 week in and week out. The proposed review process will trigger a review of almost a dozen teams.

M1, like NCAA should be the ACHA premier division in every aspect, year in and year out. Restricting admission to only those programs that are organized to compete at that level and enforcing the policies (many that are already in the handbook under the M1 policies and procedures) we believe will shape M1 into a more competitive division, top to bottom.

In M2, we’ve welcomed the NECHL to take a look and have developed a plan to provide an M2 auto-bid as well as additional independent NY State teams looking for good M2 competition. We would have to find homes for those NECHL teams that are truly M1 - Syracuse has already accepted an invitation to move to join the ESCHL next season.

I realize that coaches are seriously focused on Columbus, as they should be -and this group only focused on M1. However, we have to look to the health and welfare of the the entire ACHA. We are very concerned about the fact that NY teams are leaving the ACHA - Ithaca last year, Binghampton this year. If we don’t get NY right, and soon, we might lose a most important State with a rich tradition in our sport and an extensive university network.

One last point. The ACHA is going through a transition period, if you haven’t noticed. The commissioners, the lawyer(s), and I have worked through the Manual and are attempting to apply the rules an policies to the best of our ability. Being a retired Navy pilot, I am OCD on the rules and have been discussing those with the commissioners and our lawyers on a regular basis. When we picked up the carpet, we found much dirt hiding there. We have been working hard to clean this up. Fortunately, most of the violations are unintentional - the teams have been sanctioned, and we move on. We don’t publicize our findings (this is an exception), as we don’t want to embarrass the team/coaches/student-athletes.

We have a player who’s coach asked his league, who asked his commissioner, and received permission (right or in error) from the commissioner to participate in the ACHA being crucified on social media by those who are making life unbearable for this kid. I am told he may quit the team prior to the post season, and at the very least he is extremely distressed. There was another kid who failed a number of classes in the fall and was mentioned by name on this site. Since when is ACHA “CLUB” hockey so important that we have to destroy these kids on social media (one who up until this week, thought he was only doing the right thing and was told that by everyone in his chain of command and the other who feels he let his family and team down)?! While almost all that I have come to meet in this organization over the past decade have been exceptional individuals, there is an element that I will never understand. I spent the weekend in a rink watching an ACHA league Championship Tournament where the freshman goalie played 8 minutes in a semi-final game and the entire final game on a broken ankle. I saw the team raise the Cup like it was given by Lord Stanley himself. I talked to the winners and losers alike. These are great kids graduating to becoming something bigger than hockey. Yet they will tell their friends, family, kids, and grand-kids of the joys of their time spent in the ACHA. Yet there are student-athletes today who we are placed in authority over, who will remember the ACHA in a different light - an organization who destroyed their reputation and that of his team’s for something that won’t be remembered five years from now. And they will be telling their hockey friends an entirely different tale of the ACHA. Good luck in recruiting any of their friends or younger siblings.

I stood before you all and told you that my first priority are the players. You can tell me to go to hell or suck some part of someone’s anatomy as has been suggested - as a Navy pilot I was told to do most of those things on a daily basis. However, I would ask that your posts consider the effect and impact on these young student-athletes. They and their parents are reading these posts as well. And at the end of the day, we will not be remembered for the mistakes or the disagreements, but how the ACHA conducted business.

For those that are serious and want to make proposals, provide feedback, criticize our efforts, or simply want to understand what we are trying to do on a larger scale, my iPhone and email are always open. I appreciate greatly all the feedback, both positive and negative from all that have provided.


#8

Great post Sheriff, not to rain on your parade, but the auto-bid system was around before the tournament went to 20 teams. Back when it was coaches rankings and 16 teams, I know off of the top of my head that some of the benefactors were RMU (x2), Stoney Brook, Washington & Jefferson. Again, thanks for your posts and your transparancy, it’s appreciated.


#9

ubh,

Understand, and sincerely appreciate the M1 history while I was cutting my teeth on M2. Having said that, as relayed to me by others in M1 much more knowledgeable than I, M1 expanded as to include the “four play-in” games as to not take a top 16 bid away from a ranked team. If that is incorrect, I apologize.

Thanks to all who permit me the latitude to engage on this site. It is good to see so many passionate about the student-athletes, our sport, and this organization.

S


#10

[quote=“Sheriff, post:7, topic:454”]Fish, give me some slack - silence deafening?! I’m responding in less than 24 hours, man! This is a complex issue with facts still unfolding - I wanted to present as much information as I am able.[/quote]Well, until you replied I was rather light on the details from the division’s perspective, and I figured poking the bear a little would ensure a response that would fill that knowledge gap. I do appreciate the time and effort that went into your response, and I hope the poking didn’t bruise too much. :smirk:

You’ll get no disagreement from me on that; it’s an unfortunate situation that could’ve been avoided if caught earlier on. That said, I’m astonished that you all huddled together and decided to move forward with the worse outcome over the bad one. That seems like a poor call.

[quote=“Sheriff, post:7, topic:454”]Here are the facts on the NECHL:

  1. Syracuse won the NECHL title and therefore would be awarded the auto-bid if the league complied with the by-laws.

  2. There were two teams in question that had been reported to have less than 20 games, and thus placing the league not in good standing with ACHA M1: Cortland and Binghampton.[/quote]These first two “facts on the NECHL” make a lot of sense for a discussion about the league autobid rules. But the three you follow them up with… not so much.

Allow me to elaborate:

[quote=“Sheriff, post:7, topic:454”]3) Cortland had actually played 20 games, but score sheets were not added into Pointstreak. They are being added this week.[/quote]I’m not sure where this mythical 20th M1 game came from, but it has not been in their schedule (as posted on the ACHA’s website or on Cortland State’s website) all season, much less as of September 1st … that’s an important date for league autobid eligibility, apparently.

I don’t know why that date (the official first day of the season) was chosen. Maybe it was to protect leagues from getting unfairly punished if a member team doesn’t follow through on their posted schedule. Or, maybe it was so folks couldn’t go around adding phantom 20th M1 games to schedules to try and cover their butts after the fact. Either one of those potential reasons makes a lot of sense.

Whatever the original motivations were, “as of September 1” is right there plain as day in the autobid rules (unlike 20 M1 games in all NECHL member team schedules).

[quote=“Sheriff, post:7, topic:454”]4) Binghampton played less than 20 games, however, the team actually quit on the league and has left, not only the NECHL, but the ACHA. They are no longer associated with the ACHA.[/quote]Did Binghamton quit NECHL before or after this issue came up yesterday? Because I still see them listed today at the bottom of the NECHL standings:

Those standings show Binghamton as having played 15 league games, and the most recent of their 15 games vs M1 teams was just the weekend before last vs St. Bonaventure. If Binghamton quit on NECHL and/or ACHA M1, it seems that would’ve been a fairly recent development.

… Not that any of that matters, since they were unquestionably a NECHL member team “as of September 1”.

[quote=“Sheriff, post:7, topic:454”]5) The M1 Commissioner/ACHA expanded the 16 Team Nationals to 20 teams several years ago to accommodate auto-bids that were not ranked in the Top 16. The fact that not all those slots might be filled permits #17-#20 ranked teams to have a shot at earning a bid as well. This year #17 is the beneficiary of not having a fourth auto-bid. If we didn’t permit auto-bids, the M1 ACHA Championship Tournament would only be the top 16 teams.[/quote]That’s all well and good, but really I hope you’re not suggesting this is valid reason to just ignore the M1 rules governing which leagues have properly earned autobids.

[quote=“Sheriff, post:7, topic:454”]We felt we could not hold the kids of Syracuse accountable for a team that has essentially quit on the league and the ACHA mid-season.[/quote]NECHL had multiple teams in violation of M1 autobid rules from day one of the season. Binghamton quitting on anyone halfway through is completely irrelevant, as they were already in violation. And the issue with Cortland’s schedule can’t be hand-waved away with a magical 20th game someone just happens to find in the couch cushions after an objection is raised.

Enforcing the league autobid rules (that all teams–including NECHL members–voted on and approved) is not holding Syracuse accountable for Binghamton and Cortland State; it’s holding NECHL accountable for NECHL.


It seems obvious that sympathy for Syracuse’s situation helped sway the appeals committee’s decision. I’m sympathetic as well, believe me. But one has to wonder how it is that a team whose only path to Nationals is the ACHA M1 brass choosing to look the other way on league autobid rules violations (plural) is more deserving of that sympathy than the team whose rightfully-earned tournament berth is being stolen in the process.

Colorado State is quite clearly being wronged here, and their inability to get relief from ACHA M1 when they can point directly to what’s in black & white when you open the rule book is shameful.


#11

So, with Delaware dropping out of Nationals, in the above discussion I guess just substitute “Colorado State” with “University of Arizona”.

… Crap! That’s my team!


#12

@Sheriff. Where’d ya go?

You’ve been excellent about replying quickly and providing thorough, detailed information all season. I know you’re busy at this time of year, but so is everyone. This is arguably the most important time for you to continue to interact with all of us.

@fishbert made some salacious, but well founded accusations. You responded quickly and thoroughly, if not satisfactorily. Then fishbert quickly pointed out the inconsistencies in your explanation and raised additional concerns. Since then there has been nothing but radio silence.

Now we have the UDel debacle and no clear understanding of what’s going on. I know this isn’t an official extension of the ACHA, but you promised to keep everyone here abreast of all ACHA happenings. There is no other forum that I’m aware of, which allows you to reach more players/coaches/parents/fans.

Could you please do us a solid and circle back on this issue?

Also, you never directly addressed the slow burning dumpster fire eligibility issue surrounding multiple M2 teams on another thread here. I haven’t heard of any scandals down in M3 yet but I’m sure theres something there you could update us on as well.

Again, you’ve been great most of the year. I just hope you continue to interact with us. Some people don’t have all the information and they get mad about what they do know and post an ill-conceived rant. But when there’s no reply, the fake news tends to percolate and take on a life of it’s own.

Thanks,

-p


#13

Pokecheck,

You are more correct than you know about being busy with Columbus - much to do yet and days are running out - 72 teams and more than 100 games in 10 days is a massive undertaking. The commissioners, board members, other volunteers, and the Blue Jackets are all working to put on a good show for those attending. Then throw these dumpster fires in the mix - I seriously am just prioritizing every minute.

Did not respond to Fish b/c he is mostly correct from his point of view - and I will let the readers come to their own conclusion given the material presented. When a decision is a zero sum game - somebody wins, somebody loses - there is no win for the ACHA. We have to do a better job at defining our policies, rewrite those that are obsolete or do not have the desired effect, and then enforce those policies to the letter. The micro-issue happened to manifest itself in Binghampton not scheduling/playing 20 games. The much larger issue for the ACHA is the fact that we have an M1 conference in extremis that has been eroding for some time - Binghampton and Ithaca departing the ACHA and Syracuse moving to the ESCHL, creates a situation that demands urgent action from those that can help, or risk losing this entire conference. We have been working on possible solutions, but none that all can agree on at this point.

Then spent two days with UDel. Am not able to provide details, nor would I if permissible - again, these are real lives of 18-24 year old student-athletes. And very tough decisions for the university administration and the ACHA.

In the end, the ACHA put out a press release and placed a quick news blurb on the website. UDel is unable to attend the ESCHL Championships and the National Tournament. Therefore, Colorado State has been offered an invitation to attend, has accepted, and will compete against Liberty in the first game.

Again, this is a zero-sum decision. While the Colorado State fans deserve an opportunity and are most assuredly ecstatic about competing in Columbus next week, the UDel situation is not something I feel the need to celebrate - not good for the ACHA, our sport, or the university to have to make these very tough decisions that affect the lives of 20-25 collegiate student-athletes, some of whom are seniors and played their last game.

As for responding to posts, I tend to stay away from the posts that degenerate into name calling and are generally mean spirited. I’m grateful that the board boss redacted the names of those student-athletes called out. Anyone who knows Jay, knows he is working full time at a university, yet he has placed more time into M2 this year than any of us should expect, given the bread crumbs we pay him. He has prodded, poked, and beaten teams into submission for eligibility forms. He brings every violation to me - and there have been more than I’d care to disclose. His diligent work has exposed a flaw in our processes and perhaps the manner in which coaches approach their student-athletes wrt eligibility.

Then throw in the computer rankings which don’t handle forfeits in a manner that is fair to the entire body of the 206 M2 teams. For instance, we ran the numbers on one team - with forfeits, they still remained at the same high ranking, while some of the teams they played would have dropped b/c they outperformed the “predictions” by the computer. (Sidebar: Computer rankings have been spot on in Regionals - only “upsets” are one #11 beating a #10 and a couple of #7’s beating #6’s). So we had to be creative with the infractions and subsequent sanctions this year. All have been addressed in a consistent manner across all divisions (some were errors on transcripts, some were omissions, most were infractions). Again, we will not embarrass these teams or student-athletes publicly, but certainly it would be inappropriate in this forum.

We just did not stop at addressing the issues for this season. In the Naples breakout sessions, you will see a series of new processes and policies to severely reduce the number of “gotcha” infractions and establish defined penalties that address those teams who might unknowingly or knowingly roster an ineligible player. We have received much input from established coaches, board members, and fans on this issue. We also have tweaked the computer algorithms in different ways to discover the best ratings “penalty” to address infractions of ineligible players or preventable forfeits for next season.

One last note: We are not always going to be correct in our decisions or satisfy all. The policies are complex, conflicting at times, and there are some that are very difficult to execute by the coaches and/or enforce by one commissioner. The commissioners, our legal counsel, and I are spending a great deal of time offline in group huddles to address these issues in the Manual. Hopefully, next season, you will see changes in registration and eligibility that simplifies the processes, thus reducing the commissioners workload, which in turn results in far less infractions than we had uncovered this season.

Hope this helps. After today, barring any further dumpster fires, we will continue to work on last minute preps for Columbus. Hope to see many of you there.

S


#14

Looks like this is happening once again… only this time it’s Lehigh falling short of the 20 M1 games minimum, Drexel getting what should be a null autobid, and either RMU-IL, Jamestown, or Syracuse getting screwed out of Nationals.

Also worth noting Lehigh voluntarily forfeited an M1 game in early December, which subjects them to expulsion from ACHA M1 at the discretion of the M1 Commissioner.


#15

There are no rules. They’re just suggestions. The M1 2017/18 leading scorer last year was an ineligible player according to the rules and the 5 year implementation plan.