The National Collegiate Development Conference
"This new tuition-free division of the USPHL will be geared toward players who are already committed to NCAA Division 1 teams, or those who can achieve NCAA Division 1 commitments". (USPHL.com)
The above quote is from the USPHL's website and it explains what the new NCDC league will be and what they are expecting to do. The part that caught my attention is the fact that it is going to be tuition free. The reason that is surprising to me is because it is very hard to support a league/organization at the junior hockey level and there are plenty of crucial characteristics that need to be in place for success. There are currently two leagues that have a tuition-free system, that being the USPHL(tier 1) and the NAHL(tier 2). The reason these leagues can survive is because they make enough money from ticket sales for each organization to survive. They also hold multiple tryouts throughout the off-season that cost a few hundred dollars per player. With that being said, I am unsure that the NCDC will be able to create enough revenue from ticket sales. I know this from experience of playing on the east coast, there is no market on the east coast for fans. These teams have tried but cannot be successful in bringing in fans every night. So the underlying question is how will this league survive without tuition from players. I have an idea of what they might end up doing, and that would be charging there lower teams(USPHL premier, elite and others) more money to play. The lower teams will charge there players more money than normal in order to compensate for the NCDC's players not paying a tuition. However, that is just one persons opinion and I believe that if they don't do that they will in fact not survive. The midwest states, where the USHL and NAHL teams are located, are great markets for junior hockey in the sense that a lot of these locations don't have professional sports so they can pull in large crowds and make there money off ticket sales which ultimately pay for travel.
"The Premier and Elite Division teams will feature open tryouts. A coach, scout or other hockey operations personnel from each team’s NCDC affiliate will be present at these practices, allowing for Premier and Elite teams to be immediately scouted for the tuition-free top level." (USPHL.com)
The NAHL and USHL hold tryouts to not only find great talent but also to make money to pay for the upcoming season. The NCDC will in fact hold open tryouts and have scouts at the tryouts and practices of there affiliate teams throughout the season to find players that they believe should have a chance to crack the NCDC roster. Therefore without ticket revenue, it seems the only form of team income will be there open tryouts. With all that being said, it is tough for me to believe the NCDC will be able to survive without creating a higher tuition for there affiliate teams. They have said that it will be a small league of 11 teams and they will be concentrated in the same relative location. They will have short travel and most likely not have to stay in hotels which is a huge cost for junior hockey organizations. I do believe this league will be an incredible route for players that hope to become college hockey players. They will be developing the next era of D1 NCAA college hockey players and I sure hope that they will be able to survive and accomplish what they set out to do.
For more information on the layout and purpose of the USPHL's new NCDC league go to: