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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Big Ten Conference announced men’s ice hockey will be recommended as an official conference sport beginning in the 2013-14 academic year, the conference announced Monday. Ohio State will be joined in the league by Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State and Wisconsin.

“This is an exciting time for college hockey and for Ohio State hockey,” Chris Schneider, Ohio State associate athletics director for sport administration, said. “We have had a great relationship with the CCHA and the member institutions. We look forward to continuing those relationships while building stronger relationships with our fellow Big Ten hockey programs.”

“Adding hockey to the Big Ten Conference helps keep the sport moving in the right direction,” Mark Osiecki, Ohio State men’s ice hockey head coach, said. “Having even more games on the Big Ten Network will raise awareness both of Ohio State’s program and college hockey in the United States and Canada. It will make it even easier for our alumni to follow the team throughout the year. It is exciting both for our program, and for Ohio State fans, hockey is going to become a part of the great tradition of the Big Ten Conference.”

The recommendation includes both the establishment of the inaugural Big Ten Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament in March 2014, with the winner earning the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship, and a 20-game conference schedule with each team playing the other five schools four times (two home games and two away games). In addition, the Big Ten’s men’s ice hockey programs will continue to proactively work to maintain a strong schedule of non-conference competition with the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) and Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).

In September 2010, Penn State announced the establishment of men’s and women’s ice hockey programs set to begin competition in the 2012-13 academic year, giving the Big Ten six institutions sponsoring men’s ice hockey. Big Ten rules allow for a conference championship when six institutions sponsor a program in any given sport.