Josh Fenton is in his eighth year as Commissioner of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC). He was appointed to the position on July 1, 2013. Fenton is responsible for the general oversight over all conference matters.
In seven seasons, Fenton has guided the eight member institutions through a period of tremendous success. Under Fenton's leadership, NCHC member institutions have accomplished the following on the ice over the past seven years:
- Twenty Three (23) combined teams in NCAA Tournament;
- Ten (10) combined teams in NCAA Frozen Four;
- Four (4) NCAA National Champions (2016 – 2019)
- Forty-Two (42) American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) All-America honors
- Two Hobey Baker Award Winners (2017, 2020), two Goaltender (2016, 2017), one Rookie (2018), and two Coach (2017, 2020) of the Year Awards.
In addition to the on-ice success, the NCHC has continued to excel off the ice surface. Fenton negotiated a new five-year agreement to move the conference’s tournament championship (Frozen Faceoff) to Xcel Energy Center (home to the NHL’s Minnesota Wild), which commenced with the 2018 event. The move to Saint Paul, Minn. proved to be the right one, as the 2018 Frozen Faceoff surpassed all prior year’s attendance, tickets sold and revenue. The 2019 event continued to showcase that the Frozen Faceoff is one of college hockey's best weekends with over 20,000 fans attending over two-days.
In addition to a new relationship with Xcel Energy Center, Fenton developed partnerships with the City of Saint Paul and Visit Saint Paul, as the conference continues to make concerted efforts toward enhancing the fan experience during Frozen Faceoff weekend. With the help of Visit Saint Paul, the NCHC and Fenton brought the NCHC Award’s Celebration to the Science Museum of Minnesota, created a Fan Fest adjacent to Xcel Energy Center, setup fan hotels, and host more engaging activities for fans.
Beyond the success of the conference tournament, Fenton and the NCHC continue to deliver one of the best direct-to-consumer, subscription based digital video platforms (NCHC.tv) in college athletics. In the summer of 2017, Fenton negotiated an extension agreement with NeuLion College to further enhance the NCHC.tv platform. Additional to new business terms, Fenton focused the extension agreement around enhanced fan experiences, new technology, distribution and content enhancements. Native apps within the iOS and Android environments were made available for mobile and tablet users. A refreshed experience in the browser environment was also completed. Within both the browser and app experience, fans will find an aggregation of content, which includes live & on-demand video, social streams, and news articles. Additional technology enhancements were also made to the live video viewing experience, including timeline markers, multi-screen viewing, and enhanced playback features. NCHC.tv can also be viewed through apps on the connected devices of AppleTV, Roku, and Amazon's FireTV.
The total number of active NCHC.tv subscribers have grown over 50% and subscription revenue has grown 175% since 2014-15 (NCHC.tv’s first year). New subscribers grew 50% in 2018-19 while subscription revenue was up 4% over that same period. The NCHC distributes 85% of all NCHC.tv revenue back to the member institutions on an annual basis.
Fenton has been integral to developing partnerships with TV networks to gain national and regional exposure for the conference and member institutions. In 2018-19 Fenton helped the conference distribute 32 games through a national (CBS Sports Network or FOX College Sports) or regional sports network (FOX Sports North). The NCHC has one of college hockey’s few national TV network partnerships with its relationship with CBS Sports Network. Fenton was involved in negotiating the conference’s first agreement with CBS prior to the inaugural season in 2013-14. In January of 2019, Fenton renegotiated the partnership with CBSSN to continue broadcasting NCHC games through the 2021-22 season. On a regional front, in the summer of 2018 Fenton extended the conference's partnership with Fox Sports North (FSN), which has existed since the 2014-15 season. Recognized as the premier regional sports network in the upper Midwest and an important market for the NCHC’s success, the FSN partnership features games from either St. Cloud State or Minnesota Duluth.
Other NCHC accomplishments under Fenton’s leadership have included:
- Financially operating the conference to surplus positions each year of the conference’s existence;
- Building conference assets to the Board of Director’s goal of one-year worth of operating expense budget in reserve;
- Negotiating a contract with Madison Square Garden to create the College Hockey Showdown, a game featuring North Dakota and Boston College.
- Being the first conference to place microphones on referees to enhance the in-venue and TV/digital streaming experience of fans;
- Establishing a Student-Athlete Well-Being Task Force to better address student-athlete well-being issues and topics;
- Creating the conference’s post-graduate scholarship;
- Assisting with the original build and redesign of the conference's website NCHCHockey.com;
- Having the most robust digital engagement in college hockey with growing social media channels through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat;
- Leading a conference governance restructuring with the member institution’s Presidents & Chancellors becoming the Board of Directors;
- Implementing a policy to have each school’s Concussion Management Protocol reviewed through the NCAA's process;
- Creating college hockey’s first-ever supplemental accident medical insurance for on-ice, game officials;
- Being the first-ever NCAA college hockey conference to a use a 3 vs. 3 overtime format;
- Creating, updating and managing the NCHC Strategic Plan;
Nationally, Fenton is actively engaged in the national landscape of the sport and is recognized as an advocate for the growth of college hockey. He has represented the Hockey Commissioner’s Association on various committees with the National Hockey League and NCAA. With the NHL, Fenton has been a part of the Hockey Development Summit Committee, Hockey Player Safety Summit, and the NHL’s Declaration of Principles unveiling. He has also spent time and effort with NHL leadership to improve the overall experience and opportunity for those that play the sport, particularly in the areas of player eligibility and recruitment. From an NCAA perspective, Fenton led a committee made up of head coaches, athletic administrators, and Commissioners to usher through watershed recruiting legislative changes in April of 2019. He has also worked closely with NCAA staff in areas of eligibility, amateurism, playing rules, national tournament, and student-experience. Fenton served on the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee and is currently a member of College Hockey Inc. and Hockey Commissioner Association Boards.
Prior to becoming Commissioner, Fenton played an integral role, while on staff at Miami University, in the conference formation, which included leading NCHC member school meetings and assisting legal counsel in drafting documents to officially establish the conference. Fenton also helped negotiate with CBS Sports Network as the conference’s national broadcast partner, built the conference's first budget for the conference, assisted in securing Target Center 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 an official team equipment supplier. He also represented Miami at Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) meetings.
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 department strategic planning.
Locally, Fenton serves the Colorado Springs community through his active role on the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation Board, Pikes Peak Chapter of the First Tee Board, and co-chaired the Fan Services division of the 2018 U.S. Senior Open, held at the Broadmoor Golf Club.
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 for one year. 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 three sons Ryan (11), Luke (9) and Drew (5).