COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The National Collegiate Hockey Conference announced that it has invited St. Cloud State and Western Michigan to join the new Division I men’s hockey conference which will begin play in the 2013-14 season.

St. Cloud State, a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, and Western Michigan, currently competing in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, would join conference founding members Colorado College, Denver, Miami (Ohio), Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, and North Dakota. 

“After a thorough and deliberate evaluation process, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference is delighted to extend invitations to St. Cloud State and Western Michigan to become members of what we believe will be the premier college hockey conference in the United States,” said Brian Faison, director of athletics at North Dakota and spokesperson for The National Athletic Directors Committee.

“Both universities fit perfectly with the established goals of our conference membership,” said Faison. “Their programs are highly competitive and produce quality student-athletes. Each institution has made significant commitments to the continued success of their hockey programs and they are both located in tradition-rich hockey states. St. Cloud State and Western Michigan, with their passionate fans, will add a great deal to The National and we look forward to welcoming them.”

“With the launch of the inaugural season for The National just two years away, and with greater clarity regarding membership, we are confident the strength of our schedules and the success of our teams will produce outstanding hockey with regional and national appeal, and strong contenders for the national championship on an annual basis,” Faison added.

In addition to advancing its membership process, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference has been conducting a national search for its first commissioner and expects to have its top executive in place by the end of the calendar year.