June 1, 2013 Updated: June 1, 2013 at 5:05 pm
National Collegiate Hockey Conference commissioner Jim Scherr resigned Friday to become chief operations officer for the inaugural European Games.
The search for a replacement begins immediately.
Reports he would take the new position by the end of May surfaced almost two weeks ago. He dismissed the reports then as "premature."
Scherr, who served 17 months out of a 4+-year contract with a base value of $150,000 a year, will oversee the operation of the 49-nation competition in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. The Olympic-style event in June 2015 will draw more than 10,000 athletes.
"Jim was presented with what is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Colorado College athletic director Ken Ralph said. "While it is difficult to see him go, we understand his decision."
The NCHC begins its inaugural season this October.
Ralph said the league is in a good position thanks to Scherr and the efforts of hockey operations director Joe Novak. This morning, the NCHC signed up team hotels near Minneapolis' Target Center for the March 2014 postseason tournament.
"With what has already been done with our bylaws, operating manuals, office setup and personnel, officiating program, and championship site, we are in a great position for our inaugural season," Ralph said. "That is incredibly important. He (Joe Novak) has done a great job. We are further along that I thought we would be at this point."
Scherr's Olympic administration experience, one of the reasons he was named commissioner, led to his departure, North Dakota athletic director Brian Faison said.
Scherr was the chief executive of the U.S. Olympic Committee from 2005 to 2009, after two years as interim head. He also worked as the organization's chief of sport performance. He was executive director of USA Wrestling from 1990 to 2000.
"I regret that I will not be there to lead the conference through its inaugural season, but I have full confidence in the coaches, administrators and conference staff that the NCHC will set the standard for excellence in college hockey," he said.
The league opens with CC, Denver, Miami, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan.