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Penn State Adds Ice Hockey, Is Big Ten Conference Next?

Penn State University is adding men's and women's ice hockey programs to its athletic slate, stirring up speculation that there will soon be a Big Ten hockey conference.

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Currently, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Nebraska (which will join the Big Ten next year) field hockey teams. Michigan, MSU and Ohio State play in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin play in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

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A Big Ten hockey league is on hold until at least 2012-13, when Penn State is scheduled to begin play. For now, the CCHA and WCHA are expressing interest in adding the Nittany Lions to their lineup.

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"They are a very attractive choice -- very attractive," CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos said earlier this month, according to the Detroit News. "They're in a different market than we're in, more and more U.S. players are on college rosters, and there's tremendous growth of the sport in Pennsylvania."

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It wouldn't hurt the CCHA to have a little diversity with the addition of PSU. Over half of the 11-team league hails from Michigan--Michigan, MSU, Ferris State, Western Michigan, Northern Michigan and Lake Superior State all reside within our state borders. If a Big Ten hockey league were to be formed, there's a good chance that some of those Michigan teams (apart from U-M and MSU of course), and Notre Dame as well, would be offered a spot in the new league because not all the Big Ten schools have hockey programs.