On Thursday, Hockey East announced that they had extended the contract of commissioner Joe Bertagna an extra year, bringing him under contract through the 2014-15 season. Bertagna will begin his 16th season as Hockey East commissioner, the longest tenure in the Association's history.
"My colleagues and I are excited to know that Hockey East will have Joe's leadership for many years to come. He has helped us orchestrate our expansion strategy with incredible results while also supporting our existing membership in a first class fashion," said Executive Committee Chair and Northeastern University Athletic Director Peter Roby.
Bertagna recently led the conference through two more rounds of expansion, including adding Notre Dame for the 2013-14 season and Connecticut in 2014-15. He's also managed negotiations with three separate television networks -- NESN, NBC Sports Network and CBS Sports Network -- landing multi-year deals for each.
He also has the good fortune of being the conference commissioner of a conference that includes perennial elite programs like Boston College and Boston University, representing three of the last four National Champions.
I've had my gripes about Bertagna's tenure, including what I perceive as a hastily done expansion plan when expansion wasn't really needed in the first place. Expansion to Notre Dame necessitated expansion to a 12th program. And that's how college hockey's premier conference winds up with a middling Atlantic Hockey program. Adding Notre Dame, complete with its own separate TV deal with NBCUniversal, also had to decrease the conference's bargaining power in landing a better national TV deal with NBC Sports Network.
All that said, I don't mind seeing Bertagna's contract extended another year. This will allow the commissioner to see his expansion plan through to completion with the addition of UConn in 2014-15. The association can't exactly unwind expansion, either, and the TV media rights contracts will be in the middle of the contract by the end of 2015.
But I hope HEA starts to look in another direct after 2015. When his current contract expires, Bertagna will have served 18 years as Hockey East commissioner. That's five years longer than all the previous commissioners combined.