WAUKESHA, Wis.--After a national search process that lasted more than four months, the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association announced Wednesday the selection of Don Olson as the new Commissioner of both the Men's and Women's Conferences. Olson begins working as active Commissioner on July 1 of this year and takes over for Dr. G. Steven Larson.
"The NCHA is well-positioned to make significant progress in the years ahead and Don Olson is an excellent choice to lead this effort," said Adrian College President Dr. Jeffrey Docking. "He has outstanding hockey pedigree, having played at Harvard as an undergraduate, and great experience in athletic administration. We feel confident that Don is the right person at the right time for the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association."
Olson is currently the Athletic Director at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn., and he will continue to work in that capacity until the end of the academic year. The 2016-17 school year marks the ninth for Olson, who started his tenure as AD in 2008. Under his guidance, St. Scholastica has added three varsity sports--including Women's Hockey; the Men's program has advanced to the NCHA Semifinals or further in all but one year of Olson's tenure, while the Women's program has qualified for NCHA playoffs in all but one season.
"I am deeply honored and very excited to have the opportunity serve the NCHA into the future," said Olson. "The academic and athletic profiles of conference membership are outstanding and help establish the NCHA as one of the premier men's and women's conferences in NCAA Division III Hockey. I greatly appreciate the confidence the membership has shown in me with this appointment and I look forward to working with the leadership to continue advancing the already strong brand of the NCHA."
Olson's hockey roots run deep, having held leadership roles ranging from the local to the national level. He recently completed his term on the NCAA Division III National Men's Hockey Championships Committee, having previously chaired the Committee in the mid-1990s. Olson played a key role in the bidding and planning for the 2015 NCAA Division III Men's National Semifinals and Championship, which was hosted by the NCHA. He served as the Chairman for the American Women's College Hockey Alliance Championship in 1999 and was on the Board of Governors for the American Hockey Coaches Association from 1995-1998.
Olson began his college coaching career at St. Mary's University in 1976, winning 377 games during his career and qualifying for two NCAA Tournaments and one NAIA Tournament. In 1982 Olson became the Athletic Director at St. Mary's, a post he would thrive in for nearly 20 years. Away from the college he served locally on the Winona school district Athletic Advisory Committee and as a member of the Winona Area Youth Hockey Association Board of Directors.
Olson earned a degree in Government from Harvard University in 1972, where he also played hockey. He grew up in Duluth and attended Denfeld High School.
Olson joins the NCHA as both the Men's and Women's Conferences ready for expansion in 2017-18. Trine University, located in northern Indiana, will be a full Men's Conference member next season. Trine will also join the Women's Conference in the fall, as will Aurora University and Northland College. The Men will move to a 12-team conference; the women will move to a ten-team conference.
The NCHA recently received bids for three of its teams to the upcoming NCAA Tournaments. The St. Norbert and Adrian Men's teams will represent the league, as will the Adrian Women's team.
Dr. G Steven Larson is exiting the league after providing crucial leadership through multiple rounds of expansion and a changing landscape of hockey in the West region. Both the Men's and Women's Conferences underwent drastic changes during his time as Commissioner, particularly when the league added the Men's programs from St. Norbert and St. Scholastica in the spring of 2013. Larson guided the merger as the conferences moved under the same administrative umbrella. He also played an important role in the addition of Trine University for the 2017-18 season, which balances both conferences.
--Courtesy of the NCHA office