BILL ROBERTSON - WCHA PRESIDENT AND MEN'S LEAGUE COMMISSIONER
Longtime and popular sports executive Bill Robertson, who was named Western Collegiate Hockey Association President and Men's League Commissioner on April 8, 2014, begins his seventh season at the helm of collegiate hockey's most historic, tradition-rich and successful conference in 2020-21.
During his first six years, the noted developer and longtime champion of college hockey has helped lay a foundation for the WCHA to evolve and thrive, with an eye toward enhancing the student-athlete and fan experience. Robertson's initiative to bring playoff hockey back to campus has been a rousing success the past four seasons, with epic tournament contests and title games being played in front of standing-room-only crowds. Robertson has also championed safety provisions for the WCHA as well as been a major proponent of overtime in college hockey to give every game a conclusion.
Under Robertson's stewardship, the Men's League has executed a fan-friendly overhaul of its digital platforms – including an unprecedented partnership with FloSports to provide extensive live streaming coverage of the WCHA and college hockey on FloHockey.tv over the next four years.
Robertson and his staff have successfully expanded existing partnerships and brought new collaborations, overseen successful returns of the WCHA Final Five to both the Xcel Energy Center (St. Paul, Minn.) in 2015 and the Van Andel Arena (Grand Rapids, Mich.) in 2016 and refined Association governance – all while reducing Men's League operating expenses.
Throughout his distinguished career, Robertson has been recognized as an innovative leader, playing a major role in the inception of four professional sports franchises (the National Basketball Association's Minnesota Timberwolves, Major League Lacrosse's Minnesota Swarm and the National Hockey League's Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Minnesota Wild) and four major sporting venues (Target Center, Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, Edison International Field of Anaheim and Xcel Energy Center). Robertson also oversaw communications efforts for Major League Baseball's Anaheim Angels from 1996-98 with the Walt Disney Company.
Robertson spent 13 years (1998-2011) as the Vice President of Communications and Broadcasting for the Minnesota Wild and parent company Minnesota Sports & Entertainment. During that time, he helped establish the franchise and the events it hosted – including the highly successful WCHA Final Five from 2001-2011 – while also leading the organization's media relations, community relations, publications and broadcasting efforts, along with league and broadcast schedule negotiations. He also served as the organization's main liaison and led strategic planning for the 2004 NHL All-Star Weekend, the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Prior to his time with the Wild, Robertson directed communications for Major League Baseball's Anaheim Angels, the Mighty Ducks, the Timberwolves and Target Center, which hosted several NCAA Championships during his tenure. He twice served as media relations liaison for both the USA men's and women's Olympic ice hockey teams (Salt Lake City 2002, Torino 2006).
Most recently, he consulted on sports and entertainment matters for Tunheim, one of the most respected strategic communications firms in the Midwest. Robertson is also a requested after-dinner speaker ant many events and is known as a captivating storyteller.
The 1983 speech communication graduate of California State University, Fullerton has received several distinguished media awards, including the prestigious 2005-06 Dick Dillman Award with the Wild, given to the NHL's top public relations staff – an award Robertson also earned over four-consecutive seasons in Anaheim (1994-97). In 2003, The Hockey News selected the Minnesota Wild as possessing the NHL's best media relations department in its "The Best of Everything in Hockey" issue. In 2000, Robertson was honored as one of the "100 People to Watch" in Minnesota by Minneapolis/Saint Paul Magazine and one of Twin Cites Business Journal's "40 Under 40."
The Saint Paul, Minn., native is active with several Minnesota-based philanthropic charities and serves on many community committees, including a prominent leadership role in Twin Cities Dunkers Sports & Entertainment Group. In 2019, Robertson was inducted into the Mancini's Spots Hall of Fame for his service to both professional and amateur sports throughout his career.
Robertson has two children: son Brett, and daughter Brooke. His late father, Norbert, played collegiate hockey at the University of Minnesota, winning the AAU National Championship in 1940 with the Gophers, and after World War II, competed in hockey at the University of St. Thomas. Robertson's oldest brother, Mike, played collegiate hockey at Boston College in the late 1960s.
Robertson is the fourth person to hold the title of commissioner in WCHA Men's League history, joining Burt Smith (1977-81), Otto Breitenbach (1983-94) and Bruce McLeod (1994-2014).
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT BILL ROBERTSON
"The Western Collegiate Hockey Association made a great choice. Bill's years of experience in professional and amateur hockey have allowed him to develop tremendous relationships at all levels of hockey. He also understands both the significant history of the WCHA as well as the opportunities the league has in the future." – Mike Snee, Executive Director, College Hockey, Inc.
"A love of hockey, a greater love for people and helping them be better, describes Bill Robertson. The WCHA has a long-standing history of providing opportunity to young scholar-athletes who have represented their educational institutions both on and off the ice in exemplary fashion. Bill has a record of helping organizations get off the ground and grow and has been recognized on numerous occasions for his and organizations' leading accomplishments. The WCHA is not new but the league is entering a new era. Bill is a man who can lead them as they establish themselves as a place for young men to grow, develop and contribute to their institutions as hockey players and as citizens throughout their adult life." – Craig Button, former NHL General Manager and lead television analyst for the NHL Network