Robertson Named New WCHA Commissioner
Formerly Worked for Wild and Ducks
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
Bill Robertson was introduced as the new commissioner of the WCHA today. He will begin his duties in mid-May, overlapping with outgoing commissioner Bruce McLeod, whose 20-year tenure ends June 1.
Robertson spent 13 years with the Minnesota Wild, overseeing all aspects of the team's media, including television, radio and the Web, starting from when the team came into the NHL.
Previously, Robertson also held roles with the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA when both were also expansion franchises.
"We are thrilled to locate exactly the right person," said Minnesota State president Richard Davenport, chair of the WCHA executive committee and chair of the search committee for a new commissioner. "We drew from a very, very extensive list of candidates. Bill's background clearly stood head and shoulders above the other candidates.
"He's a proven leader, an expert communicator ... he knows and loves hockey, that's one of the most important things I think."
Roberston has spent the last two years at Tunheim Partners, where, according to his LinkedIn profile, he "[d]eveloped a sports/entertainment strategic communications and sponsorship practice for the firm."
The WHCA saw tremendous growth under McLeod, with increased television money, a successful tournament at the Xcel, and the addition of teams like Minnesota State, Bemidji State and Nebraska-Omaha. But this season also marked a seismic shift when big-name schools Wisconsin and Minnesota left for the Big Ten, prompting six other long-standing programs to leave for the new NCHC.
That left just Alaska-Anchorage, Michigan Tech, Bemidji State and Minnesota State in the league, to be joined by six other CCHA refugees. And it left the WCHA a drastically different conference than it just recently was.
McLeod, at the news conference, addressed Robertson directly.
"You're the right person at the right time to lead this historic organization," McLeod said. "There's tons of potential here and you're the perfect guy to mine that potential."
Robertson acknowledged the shifts.
"The business of college hockey has changed," said Robertson, whose father, Norbert, played at Minnesota and St. Thomas, and whose brother Mike played for Boston College. "There TV, digital content — I will do my best as commisisoner of the WCHA to stay on top of these trends. I am a huge college hockey fan and I ahve a passion for this game."
Robertson laid out some of his agenda, in broad terms, for advancing the league and building on its "strong foundation."
"I'll be looking for new revenue streams and sponsorships," Robertson said. "I want to be an advocate for student athletes and what they mean to these institutions.
"There will be a lot of hard work and dedication and staff to roll up our sleeves to get the job done. I am ready to meet this challenge and I'm so excited to get started."
Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold was also there, with the news conference being held at the team's home, the Xcel Center. The WCHA tournament will return to the Xcel Center next year, rotating with Grand Rapids, as the Big Ten tournament rotates out and into Detroit.
"(Robertson) helped build the Wild organization, for that we will be forever grateful," Leipold said. "He's passionate about the game of hockey."
In addition to other roles, Roberton also twice served as media relations liaison for both USA men’s and women’s Olympic ice hockey teams (Salt Lake City 2002, Torino 2006).