Three years ago, Jim Scherr was run out of the U.S. Olympic Committee, forced to resign after a half-decade of productive service in the city that he calls home. He took with him a boatload of experience, a stable of contacts and an everlasting supply of people skills.
Now, he’s back in the game. And he’ll be directing college hockey’s biggest new thing.
The former Olympic wrestler is expected to be introduced Wednesday as commissioner of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, which will have offices in Colorado Springs and will include Colorado College, a person with knowledge of the hire told The Gazette. The person requested anonymity because the NCHC hasn’t made an official announcement.
North Dakota athletic director Brian Faison will present Scherr to the media during an 11 a.m. news conference at the Penrose House that will be attended by representatives from the startup league’s eight members – CC, Denver, Miami, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan. CC officials were mum on the announcement Tuesday, and Scherr declined comment in an email.
The eight athletic directors from the member schools decided upon Scherr, 50, with CC athletic director Ken Ralph leading the search committee and The Goldwater Group and Stafford Sports also finding candidates for a position that will pay six figures. Preliminary interviews were held in October in Minneapolis, with a list of touted possibilities reportedly including Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi, former Penguins general manager Craig Patrick and former Wild vice president Bill Robertson.
Scherr doesn’t possess a hockey background, but in six years as chief executive officer of the Springs-based USOC, from 2003 to 2009, the USOC underwent massive reform in its management and governance structure, overhauled its international relations efforts and adopted a tougher stance on doping. Under Scherr, the USOC’s athlete training services expanded and its financial support to athletes and national governing bodies of Olympic sports doubled, with the USOC closing 2008 with a $103 million operating reserve.
The year before a dispute with the USOC board prompted Scherr’s ouster, Scherr netted $619,507 in total compensation, according to the USOC’s income tax returns from 2008. His total compensation in 2009 was $801,117, and in 2010, he got $116,252 in severance. He’s the CEO of 776 Original Marketing, the Springs-based firm he founded in 2009.
Among the initial priorities for Scherr will be to appoint a hockey operations director and a public relations director, however, it’s unclear when their jobs would begin, given that the NCHC (formed in July) launches for the 2013-14 season. With aid from the El Pomar Foundation, the NCHC is located at the Copper Building, adjacent to The Broadmoor.
Also high on Scherr’s to-do list? Finalize a TV contract and assemble a league schedule. The NCHC is reportedly close to securing a deal with CBS Sports Network, in which 16 games would be broadcast each season, and it’s reportedly in favor of a 24-game league schedule, permitting 10 nonconference games – valuable for postseason positioning.
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