Tom Anastos has resigned as commissioner of the CCHA to become the head coach at Michigan State.
Anastos returns to coaching at the collegiate level for the first time since 1992, when he was in the second year as an assistant coach to Ron Mason at Michigan State. He was the head coach at Michigan-Dearborn, an NAIA school, from 1987 to 1990.
“Bringing Tom Anastos into the MSU athletics department to run our hockey program brings someone with energy and passion not only for the sport of hockey, but for our university and program as well,” Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said in a statement. “He can attract high-caliber talent and develop those players into those who are attractive to the National Hockey League. He places a premium on education, and the drive and desire to compete for championships.”
It may be the first time that a college hockey commissioner left that post to become a college hockey coach. Former Hockey East commissioner Lou Lamoriello later became a coach in the NHL.
Anastos played for the Spartans from 1981 to 1985.
“I am extremely excited about returning to Michigan State to lead the Spartan hockey program and once again be a part of the MSU athletics department family,” he said in a statement. “I have obviously maintained a relationship with MSU and been in close contact with the hockey program for the last 13 years in my role with the CCHA, but this opportunity is incredibly special.
“The expectations I have for our program will be to compete annually for conference and national championships. That was the expectation when I was here as a player and as an assistant coach, and I don’t believe it should be any different in my role as head coach. In our locker room, we have quality young men who are good players, good students and good citizens, which are all hallmarks of this program. I am excited to get started, to hire a staff, and to get myself re-acclimated within the MSU community.”
Associate commissioner Fred Pletsch will serve as the CCHA’s interim commissioner while the league finalizes plans for a search, said Greg Christopher, the Bowling Green athletic director and chair of the CCHA Council.
“Congratulations to Tom and his family; this is a terrific opportunity,” Christopher said in a statement. “On behalf of everyone in the CCHA, we thank Tom for his 13 years of leadership. As commissioner, Tom helped elevate the CCHA to the top of college hockey.
“We move forward with a strong foundation in place. The executive committee and full council are committed to the future of the CCHA. Our ongoing conversations about the future shape of the CCHA will continue. The CCHA staff is a strong and cohesive group, with the ability to keep things moving forward. Fred Pletsch has been involved with the league for 10 years and understands our vision.”
It’s the second major shake-up this week for the CCHA. On Monday, the Big Ten Conference made it public that it intends to start a men’s hockey conference in 2013, which would take Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State out of the CCHA.
Anastos, 47, has been included on The Hockey News‘ annual list of the 100 most influential and powerful people in the sport for the last five years. He’s No. 46 in 2011.