SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AUGIE) — The Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) today announced the CCHA Board of Directors has voted unanimously to welcome Augustana University as the league’s ninth member.

“We are very pleased to welcome Augustana University into the CCHA,” said CCHA Board of Directors Chair and Bemidji State UniversityPresidentDr. Faith Hensrud. “The commitment Augustana University has to academic excellence mirrors that of all the teams in the CCHA and will add to our overall excellence as a league.”

Located in the heart of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Augustana University athletics is home to five team NCAA National Championships while competing primarily in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC). Having won four national championships since 2010, the Vikings have shown broad-based athletics excellence by finishing in the top-20 of the Division II Learfield Director’s Cup standings in eight of the last nine years. In the classroom, Augustana has consistently led the NSIC in All-Academic honorees and tallied 44 Academic All-America honors over the past 10 years. 

“The CCHA supports the continued growth of college hockey and are excited to accept Augustana University as our ninth member,” said CCHA Commissioner Don Lucia. “Sioux Falls is a proven hockey community and the commitment Augustana University is making to Division I hockey is impressive. Our members look forward to assisting Augustana University in their transition to college hockey and the CCHA over the next few years.”

In October 2021, Augustana University officially broke ground on the future home to the Viking Men’s Hockey program — Midco Arena — a new, state-of-the-art, 3,000+ seat hockey arena with multiple suites and other premium seating options, providing a first-class experience for both student-athletes and sports fans. Facilitated by a lead gift from T. Denny Sanford, several other major donors, including Midco and Sanford Health, are supporting the new facility and program.

“Our planning is focused on what is good for the conference and what will advance the conference,” said CCHA Management Council Chair and Northern Michigan University Director of Athletics Forrest Karr. “Our site visit team went to Augustana University in November and we were impressed with the high-quality academic programs, exceptional athletic facilities and excellent community support. Augustana University is building a sustainable hockey program that will add value to the CCHA and position the conference for future success.”

Augustana University will be a full voting member immediately and begin a transitional schedule, playing 16 games (one series against each member) in both the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons before playing a full league schedule beginning with the 2025-26 season.

“As Augustana launches the first college hockey program in South Dakota, we are grateful to the CCHA for welcoming our university, the city of Sioux Falls, and the entire state to NCAA Division I competition in this exciting sport,” said Augustana UniversityPresident Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. “We are thrilled to join the CCHA — the league and its members are committed to excellence, player development, and the experience of student-athletes and fans.”

Augustana’s strategic plan, Viking Bold: The Journey to 2030, includes goals related to athletics, including student-athlete support, community engagement and Division I.  The investment in a new program that will compete at the Division I level fuels the overall strategy.

“We began this academic year with three goals for our hockey program and with this invitation we have now accomplished all three – finalize the design of Midco Arena, hire a head coach, and find a conference home,” said Augustana University Athletics Director Josh Morton.  “Joining a league that has quickly established itself as a nationally competitive conference means a lot and we look forward to adding to the excellence of the CCHA in 2023 as we bring the highest level of college hockey to Augustana University.” 

Just under a month ago, Augustana announced the hiring of Garrett Raboin as the Vikings first-ever head hockey coach. 

“Augustana Hockey fans are going to enjoy watching some of the best teams in college hockey compete as part of the CCHA,” Raboin said. “I want to give a huge thanks to Commissioner Don Lucia and the CCHA Board of Directors for the invitation.”

Augustana University Quick Facts

  • Founded: 1860
  • Location: Sioux Falls, S.D.
  • President: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
  • Director of Athletics: Josh Morton
  • Enrollment: 2,100
  • Nickname: Vikings
  • Colors: Navy Blue and Gold 
  • Hockey Arena: Midco Arena
  • First Year of NCAA hockey: 2023-24

The CCHA and Augustana University will hold a joint press conference via Zoom call at 2:30 p.m. CT/3:30 p.m. ET. Media members wishing to participate in the call should contact CCHA Director of Strategic Communications and Brand Advancement Dominic Hennig by email hennig@ccha.com or by phone at (586) 925-6095 for a link to the conference call.

About the CCHA:
The Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) competes in the highest level of NCAA Division I Hockey and is regarded as one of the top player development leagues in the world for the National Hockey League (NHL). The CCHA consists of nine member institutions including four in the state of Michigan: Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University and Northern Michigan University. Three in the State of Minnesota: Bemidji State University, Minnesota State University-Mankato, and University of St. Thomas. One in Ohio: Bowling Green State University and one in South Dakota: Augustana University.

About Augustana University:
Founded in 1860, Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is a selective, comprehensive university affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). With more than 100 majors, minors and pre-professional programs for undergraduates — along with graduate degrees and continuing education programs — Augustana is committed to enriching lives and fostering development by combining a foundation in the liberal arts with professional skill and advanced study. Nationally recognized for academic excellence, student life, graduate outcomes and affordability, Augustana serves more than 2,000 students from 34 states and 48 countries.