UNC HockeyUNC Hockey To Play In ACHA Division 1 For The 2025-2026 Season
UNC Hockey Division 1

UNC Hockey To Play In ACHA Division 1 For The 2025-2026 Season

The UNC Hockey program has been granted a path to join ACHA Division 1 for the 2025-2026 season, with the preliminary approval for the Atlantic Coast Collegiate Hockey League to add a Division 1 conference. The ACHA and ACCHL reached a Memorandum of Understanding allowing core members: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC State University, University of Alabama, and University of Louisville to begin play in the ACHA once the six-team conference requirement is met. The ACCHL conference is focused on bringing together some of the biggest brands in college athletics in the south to compete at the highest level of non-NCAA college hockey in North America.


The ACCHL is charged with creating a conference whose members meet that mission and include the following parameters:


• Member of a “Power 5 Conference” with historical and current athletic success, making them an NCAA athletic brand name.


• The top team at their university, meaning there is no NCAA team.


• Currently enjoys widespread fan support.


In just his first year with the program, Head Coach Adam Dauda has played a large role in this transition to ACHA D1. “It’s clear that interest in hockey is growing exponentially in the southeast,” Dauda said. “We want to continue to give our fans the highest quality of hockey possible and this jump will allow us to do that. We’re coming off a historic season where we were the highest ranked ACCHL team in D2. Our players and staff have shown commitment to greatness and I’m confident we will continue to find success at the D1 level. I’m thrilled to be able to have our program embark on this exciting next step and hopeful it will lead to great things for UNC Hockey.”


The Tar Heels competed in the Frozen Finley outdoor game in 2023, which drew over 26,000 fans. UNC is coming off two consecutive Governor’s Cup Championships, which are held at PNC Arena – home of the Carolina Hurricanes.


The ACHA sees the formation of this conference as an important part of their growth plan. According to Executive Director Craig Barnett, “Current ACHA members University of Alabama and Liberty University are in that geographic location, so adding a new Men’s Division 1 league with ‘Power 5’ type members will enhance not only Men’s Division 1, but the ACHA as a whole. We are excited to follow the progress of this prospect!”


According to ACCHL Commissioner, Mike Walley, UNC will be part of a conference “to showcase the highest levels of collegiate hockey in the Southeast, and in turn, will inspire an entire new generation of youth hockey players in non-traditional hockey areas who aspire to eventually be rostered on these exceptional university ice hockey teams.”