Sources: Commissioners told Kelly to resign or be fired as College Hockey Inc. executive director

Paul Kelly was given a choice Monday to resign or be fired as executive director of College Hockey Inc., sources said, and he chose the former.

An erosion of trust in Kelly from the commissioners of college hockey’s five Division I men’s leagues led them to end Kelly’s two-plus-year term leading the promotional and marketing group.

The announcement was made Monday afternoon by the Hockey Commissioners Association, which controls College Hockey Inc.

Sources described a falling out between the commissioners and Kelly that had been a while in the making, based on a difference of opinions on College Hockey Inc.’s scope.

But the final straw, the sources said, was Kelly recently approaching athletic directors from some ECAC Hockey schools about meeting to give College Hockey Inc. a more leading role in the administration of Division I men’s hockey.

Kelly could not immediately be reached for comment. In a text message to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun posted on the broadcaster’s website, Kelly said: “Time to move on. I told them I’d give them 2-3 years to get the entity established and operational. It’s been 28 months and it’s time for a new challenge.”

“The HCA would like to thank Paul for his service to CHI and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” Steve Hagwell, Hockey Commissioners Association president and ECAC Hockey commissioner, said in a statement.

The commissioners group also said in the statement that it expects to discuss a “different course” for the executive director position. A replacement for Kelly was not immediately announced.

Kelly, the former executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association, was hired in November 2009 by the commissioners to run College Hockey Inc.

College Hockey Inc. was formed by the commissioners as a central marketing vehicle for college hockey. It is funded in part by a grant from the NHL through USA Hockey.