Ron Grahame Honored with 2016-17 NCHC Distinguished Service Award
Denver’s Deputy Athletics Director recognized for his contributions and service to the NCHC
April 20, 2017
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Although Ron Grahame is wrapping up his term as the Chair of the NCHC Athletic Council this month, his support and assistance to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) extend back to the conference’s creation in 2011. Since then, the University of Denver’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Sport Supervision and Deputy Athletics Director has worked continuously to help the NCHC grow and become one of the best conferences in college hockey. For his service and contributions to the NCHC, Grahame has been named the second recipient of the NCHC’s Distinguished Service Award, the conference announced Thursday.
Grahame played a vital role, along with others, in the formation of the NCHC and has served on numerous conference committees since the NCHC began operations in 2011, helping get the conference off the ground, while also providing insights from his over 35 years of experience working in collegiate athletics.
“Ron Grahame has been integral to the success of the NCHC since day one,” NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton said. “He was a driving force and factor behind the conference’s formation and has had a hand in the success achieved thus far. Having someone who played, coached and worked as an administrator in our sport for many years gives us a tremendous asset among our member institutions. We are extremely appreciative of Ron’s commitment to the NCHC and he is very deserving to receive the conference’s Distinguished Service Award.”
With realignment in college hockey beginning to take shape, Grahame stepped up as a leader, organizing phone calls and meetings with other school administrators during the formation of the NCHC. The former Denver goaltender assisted others with planning the formal announcement of the NCHC, which was officially founded on July 13, 2011 at the Penrose House in Colorado Springs – with Grahame in attendance.
While still performing his job as second in command for Denver’s Athletics Department and overseeing the Pioneers’ hockey program, Grahame continues to work alongside other member school administrators on the NCHC’s behalf. He has been a member on the NCHC’s Athletic Council (originally called Board of Directors) since the conference began, serving as treasurer on the Council in 2014-15, Vice-Chair in 2015-16 and Chair of the Athletic Council during the 2016-17 season. Grahame has also been a contributing member on the NCHC’s Advisory Committee each of the past three seasons, providing perspective to the Commissioner and the conference as a whole when making difficult and important decisions. The native of Victoria, B.C. has also volunteered to serve on the NCHC’s Awards and Membership Committees over the course of the conference’s short history.
“Ron’s connections in all of hockey and intercollegiate hockey stand at the forefront of his ability to connect the conference and its individual members in ways that serve the whole with integrity and forethought,” wrote Peg Bradley-Doppes, Denver’s Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation, in her nomination. “Having served with Ron both at the conference level and within DU’s Athletics Department, it is clear that his unique ability to think through the bigger picture serves the NCHC to the benefit of all.”
While Grahame has certainly provided many valuable insights and brought a wealth of experience to the NCHC, his effort and dedication to the conference are outstanding. Not only has he worked to make the NCHC better, but has also been a great advocate for college hockey as a whole and the welfare of student-athletes.
“I am truly humbled to receive this honor from the NCHC. Having been involved in the development of the conference and then to see the tremendous growth and success is very gratifying,” Grahame said of receiving the award. “The NCHC has unparalleled leadership from Commissioner Josh Fenton, as well as its membership, which has pushed us to the forefront of college hockey in four short years. With sincere gratitude, thank you for this recognition.”
Grahame will be presented the NCHC Distinguished Service Award in person at the NCHC’s Annual Meeting with athletics directors and coaches held in Naples, Fla. on April 25.
Grahame is a Pioneer through and through, having played on DU’s hockey team from 1969-73, when he helped Denver win the WCHA as a senior and was named an All-American goaltender and the WCHA Player of the Year. After playing eight seasons of professional hockey, including time in the National Hockey League (NHL), Grahame returned to Denver in 1982, when he was hired as the associate hockey coach for the Pioneers. He served as coach until 1990 and transitioned into an administrative role at Denver in 1993, starting as the director for operations and compliance. Grahame oversaw Denver’s transition to Division I athletics in all sports in the late 1990s and has received numerous promotions within Denver’s Athletics Department, moving up to Senior Associate Athletics Director in 2005 and to his current role in 2013. In his current position, Grahame is responsible for the overall supervision of all varsity sport programs for the University of Denver on a day-to-day basis. Grahame manages all student-athletes and coaches both on and off the playing fields while upholding the mission and goals of Denver’s Athletics Department.
Aside from his work at Denver and for the NCHC, Grahame has served on several NCAA committees, including on the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee from 2000-04, while he was the committee chair in his final year. He also was a member of the local organizing committee in Denver when the city hosted the NCAA Ice Hockey West Regional in 2007 and the Frozen Four in 2008.
Grahame has previously been recognized for his hard work and dedication to the University of Denver in 2013, when he was named the winner of Denver’s Distinguished Service Award, and again in 2015, being honored with the Athletics Department’s Unsung Hero Award.
The NCHC’s Distinguished Service Award is not necessarily bestowed upon someone annually, but is presented to an individual who has served, supported and promoted the goals and ideals of the NCHC and who, through personal effort and dedication, has enhanced the ability of the Conference and/or its member institutions to provide a positive experience for the student-athletes enrolled at NCHC member institutions.
The inaugural NCHC Distinguished Service Award was presented last year to Mr. Bill Hybl, the Chairman and CEO of El Pomar Foundation.