Josh Fenton enters his third year as Commissioner of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC). He was originally hired to the position on July 1, 2013. Coming off the second full competitive season in 2014-2015, Fenton guided the eight member institutions through the conference's most successful year in its early infancy. With two competitive years in the books for the NCHC, Fenton and leadership of the member schools have already developed a strong brand in college hockey.
Under Fenton's guidance in 2014-2015 the NCHC achieved great success. The conference placed a record, 75% of all members (six of eight members) in the NCAA Division I NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship Tournament. Two of the six institutions earned NCAA Frozen Four berths. Off the ice, the conference staff and Fenton built and launched NCHC.tv, the conference's fully-integrated digital network with over 115 live games and video-on-demand content. NCHC.tv was the first single-sport conference digital network to have been developed across all other NCAA single-sport conferences. The network has also been a revenue driver for the conference and each individual member school. Creating further exposure for the membership and fans through television, Fenton complimented the already in place CBS Sports Network partnership in a new relationship with FOX Sports. The amount of nationally distributed games for the conference grew by 89% from 2013-2014. The 2015 NCHC Frozen Faceoff (the conference's tournament championship weekend) saw a 25% increase in ticket revenue and attendance from the 2014 event. Financially, the conference revenue grew by 13% while the year-end operating surplus more than doubled from the previous year. Fenton and the conference staff remained committed in 2014-2015 to enhancing and communicating the NCHC brand through great student-athlete and fan experiences associated with digital engagement/promotion and unique events at the Frozen Faceoff. Beyond the great accomplishments in 2014-2015, Fenton, staff and member schools have worked hard recently to institute more student-athlete and fan initiatives that will prove impactful for the future. Some of these initiatives include mandating each member school's Concussion Management Protocol is reviewed through the NCAA Division I vetting process, instituting a conference post-graduate scholarship, creating the College Hockey Showdown at Madison Square Garden in 2016, growing the Officiating Program, a new TV relationship with American Sports Network, and instituting a first-ever, 3 vs. 3 overtime structure to all of college hockey.
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 is currently a NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee Member, 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 (6), Luke (3) and Drew (under a year old).