NAPLES, Fla. — The ECAC made a bold change to its governance structure today, naming Steve Hagwell its acting commissioner for Division I men’s and women’s hockey. The move came after its league meetings at the AHCA Coaches Convention in Naples, Fla.
Phil Buttafuoco, the overall commissioner of the multi-sport ECAC, will no longer be involved with ECAC hockey.
“I am thrilled and humbled to be appointed Acting Commissioner,” Hagwell said in a statement. “To have the support of the greatest administrators, coaches and staffs in college hockey’s best conference is an honor I cannot describe. I cannot guarantee the future but can state that I will work tirelessly on behalf of the League and its members.”
Hagwell was named the associate commissioner of ECAC men’s Division I Hockey just over four years ago. When Sarah Hood left the same role on the women’s side last year, Hagwell assumed those duties as well.
But the promise implied by the creation of the associate commissioner’s position in 1999 was never fulfilled. Structural and communications problems persisted and the move amounted to little more than cosmetic change.
This, and related moves, which came with the approval of the overall ECAC Board of Directors, creates what becomes in essence a wholly independent hockey league. Hagwell will report solely to the ECAC hockey athletic directors, much like the way the commissioners of all five other Division I hockey-only conferences operate. ECAC Hockey will still work out of the Centerville, Mass., office.
The term of acting commissioner is for one year, and will be reviewed following next season.
“The ECAC Hockey League appreciates the commitment and service that … Buttafuoco and his staff have provided to the League,” said Val Belmonte, Union director of athletics and chair of the ECAC Hockey Executive Committee. “After a lengthy review of the league’s strategic planning process, we are confident this new position will fulfill the goals and objectives that have been established by the league members.”
Prior to joining the ECAC, Hagwell spent nearly eight years on staff at the NCAA.
Buttafuoco, as commissioner, will continue to oversee the operation of the rest of the ECAC. The ECAC is comprised of hundreds of schools in the Northeast, most of which belong to other independent all-sport conferences as well. The ECAC is mostly used as a support arm, helping to coordinate official, awards and the like. The ECAC has actual jurisdiction on its own wrestling, lacrosse, rowing and hockey leagues.