The National Collegiate Hockey Conference is losing its first commissioner before it plays its first game.
Jim Scherr, who in early 2012 got a 4½-year contract to run the NCHC, is leaving the league to become chief operating officer of the 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The league made the announcement late Friday afternoon, saying it would immediately start a search for a new commissioner.
“We knew when we hired Jim that there would come a time when there would be competing bids for his services,” NCHC chairman of the board and North Dakota athletic director Brian Faison said in a statement. “We are grateful for what Jim has done in his time with the NCHC and we are very happy that he has the opportunity to return to the Olympic sports world with the European Games in Baku. We know his expertise will greatly benefit their event.”
Inside the Games reported on May 17 that Scherr had been linked to the job, but days later Scherr called that report “premature and incorrect at this time.”
The move represents a return to Olympic-level administration for the former United States Olympic Committee chief executive officer. A former Olympic wrestler and USA Wrestling executive director, Scherr left a marketing and public relations firm in Colorado Springs, Colo., to join the NCHC.
When he joined the NCHC, he said being commissioner would have all his attention.
“Serving as commissioner of the NCHC has been a tremendous experience and it is a difficult position to leave behind,” Scherr said in a news release. “I want to express my sincere appreciation to the Board for understanding the opportunity presented to me, and for working with me to make it a reality. 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.”
Scherr recently participated in NCHC meetings in Florida where the league’s board of directors was announced.
“Jim was presented with what is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Colorado College athletic director and NCHC treasuer Ken Ralph said in a news release. “While it is difficult to see him go, we understand his decision. 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.”
The NCHC is scheduled to begin its inaugural season in October. It includes former WCHA members Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota and St. Cloud State and former CCHA members Miami and Western Michigan. In June 2012, the league announced a five-year agreement to play its postseason tournament at Minneapolis’ Target Center.