Josh Fenton enters his fourth year as Commissioner of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC). He was originally hired to the position on July 1, 2013. Having completed the third competitive season in 2015-2016, the conference has achieved a great deal. Fenton has guided the eight member institutions through a period of tremendous success while still in its early stages. Fenton and the leadership of the member schools have already developed a strong brand in college hockey.
Through three seasons with Fenton serving as Commissioner NCHC member institutions have accomplished the following on the ice:
Off the ice, the NCHC accomplished a great deal in 2015-2016. Guided by Fenton, the conference’s exposure through digital and linear manners continues to expand. NCHC.tv, the conference's fully-integrated digital network, showcased over 140 live events in High Definition while being complemented with many pieces of Video On Demand content. NCHC.tv continues be a significant revenue driver for the conference. Revenue increased 30% in 2015-2016 with over 85% of all revenue that was collected being distributed directly back to member schools. Fenton has helped usher-in technology enhancements to the platform with Over-The-Top (OTT) apps on AppleTV and Roku. Further, the NCHC enlisted professional production assistance to enhance live-game production standards with various member institutions.
Complementing the most significant digital network in college hockey is the conference’s broad television exposure. Fenton has helped the conference expose over 40 games through a national television outlet in 2015-2016, a 5% increase from the previous year and a 90% increase from 2013-2014. Fenton has been integral to developing partnerships with TV networks to gain the national exposure. He helped negotiated the conference’s tier 1 partner agreement with CBS Sports Network. Prior to the 2014-15 season, Fenton developed a partnership with FOX to distribute locally and regionally produced games over FOX College Sports. Most recently, Fenton negotiated the conference partnership with American Sports Network, which distributed 8 eight games in 2015-2016 and will distribute another 10 in 2016-2017. Beyond national exposure, the conference continued its partnership in 2015-2016 with Fox Sports North, distributing seven games from either St. Cloud State or Minnesota Duluth in the upper Midwest.
The 2016 NCHC Frozen Faceoff (the conference's tournament championship weekend) saw continued growth. The number of tickets sold at the 2016 Frozen Faceoff increased by 6% from 2015. This followed a 25% increase in ticket revenue and attendance in 2015. Sponsorship revenue at the 2016 Frozen Faceoff increased 14%. Fenton and the conference staff continue to work very hard to make the Frozen Faceoff the best possible experience for Fans and participating Student-Athletes. General Fan and Student-Athlete enhancements included better Field of Play conditions, better overall guest operations within Target Center, a Fan Fest produced both days of the event, new participant gifts, a meaningful Awards Celebration for student-athletes, improved in-game entertainment and regular digital engagement with Frozen Faceoff Live on the conference’s website, NCHC.tv and social media channels.
Other NCHC accomplishments under Fenton’s watch have included:
During the inaugural year (2013-2014), the conference accomplished a great deal to conduct the first-ever season of competition. Having to develop almost everything from scratch, the conference staff and Fenton most notably created the conference website (NCHCHockey.com), executed the first conference tournament (NCHC Frozen Faceoff), secured new corporate partnerships, developed NCHC branding guidelines, instituted a national television agreement with CBS Sports Network, formed an officiating program, launched the first college hockey conference app, operated with a year-end financial surplus, and drafted and instituted all conference governance documentation.
Prior to becoming Commissioner, Fenton played an integral role in the formation and development of the NCHC, while leading NCHC Board meetings and assisting legal counsel in drafting documents to establish the conference. Fenton also helped negotiate with CBS Sports Network as the conference’s national broadcast partner, created the operating financial models, secured Target Center in Minneapolis as the tournament championship site and served as the conference’s liaison on legal and financial matters.
Fenton has a wealth of intercollegiate athletics experience, previously serving as senior associate athletic director for finance and administration at Miami University prior to joining the NCHC. He was responsible for assessment and management of the athletic department’s $21 million annual budget, human resource operations, and was the sport administrator for men’s ice hockey, football, field hockey & men’s golf. Fenton served on the athletic director’s executive leadership team and was the athletic department’s liaison to the university president, vice-president for finance and university general counsel.
Fenton’s duties at Miami also included negotiation and management of department contracts, key prospect and donor relations, selling of naming rights, oversight of personnel management, and the supervising of strength & conditioning and equipment services areas. Specific to hockey, Fenton assisted in bringing the 2014 NCAA Ice Hockey Regional to Cincinnati, negotiated Miami’s participation in the 2013 Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field in Chicago, and led discussions to secure Bauer Hockey as the official team equipment supplier. He also represented Miami at Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) and NCHC meetings, along with serving as a member of the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee.
Fenton was appointed senior associate athletic director at Miami in 2012 after spending the previous two years as Miami’s associate athletic director for external relations. From 2010 to 2011, Miami saw a 20-percent increase in football season ticket sales and a 65-percent increase in overall football revenue. Additionally, Fenton was integral in developing the ticket sales strategies for the men’s hockey program, consistently selling out Steve Cady Arena since it opened in 2006. He was involved in donor strategies for numerous sports programs, resulting in over $3 million raised for scholarships, salaries and capital projects.
Fenton joined Miami in 2002 as a volunteer assistant hockey coach while completing his master’s degree. Upon completion of his degree, he was hired as the ice hockey program’s first director of hockey operations, while also doubling his time within the department’s sponsorship area as an assistant director of corporate relations. In 2006, Fenton was promoted to assistant athletic director where his focus was sport administration (ice hockey, men’s golf, baseball, volleyball, and field hockey) along with overseeing all department strategic planning.
In his service to the college hockey and local community, Fenton recently finished his service to the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee Member and is currently a member of College Hockey Inc. Board Member, Hockey Commissioner's Association Board Member and Colorado Springs Sports Corporation Board Member.
A native of Litchfield, Minn., Fenton received a bachelor’s degree in finance in 2001 from Iowa State University, where he was a member of the men’s golf team. He earned his master’s degree in sport studies from Miami in 2004. His family, which resides in Colorado Springs, includes his wife, Lindsay, and sons Ryan (7), Luke (5) and Drew (1).