TORONTO – Mark Cohon, one of the longest serving and accomplished Commissioners in the history of the Canadian Football League, announced today that he will not seek a renewal of his contract which expires next Spring.
“When I started eight seasons ago, it was my goal to work closely with the Board of Governors to transform the CFL. Together, we have accomplished our goals and much more,” Cohon said.
“From our transformative TV deal with Bell Media, to the renaissance in new and remodeled stadiums across the country, to the reintroduction of CFL football in our nation’s capital, to the first comprehensive drug policy in CFL history, to a well-structured new CBA with our players, we have achieved so much,” he added.
“With the positive work we have done, the time is approaching for me to tackle new opportunities and new ventures, and I have informed our Board of Governors of my decision.”
Jim Lawson, Chairman of the Canadian Football League’s Board of Governors, said the league has made tremendous strides during Cohon’s tenure.
“Mark has vastly improved the league’s business model and brought innovation to our game, while at the same time connecting deeply with our broad and growing fan base,” Lawson said. “He will always be known as the fans’ Commissioner.”
Cohon thanked several groups for their contributions to the CFL.
“Football is the ultimate team sport, and all of the league’s accomplishments are the product of the vision and work of many people: committed franchise owners and chairs, team presidents and staff, and of course our players, who are elite athletes and even better people,” Cohon said.
“But the credit for everything and anything we do ultimately belongs to the people who make everything in the CFL possible: our fans.”
Among the league’s accomplishments while Cohon has been Commissioner:
- The debut of the Ottawa REDBLACKS as the CFL returned to the national capital under strong local ownership.
- Exploring opportunities in Atlantic Canada through three successful Touchdown Atlantic games in Moncton, New Brunswick.
- A vastly improved national broadcast deal with TSN and RDS which runs until 2018.
- A new U.S. broadcast deal with ESPN which runs until 2018.
- Successful negotiation of two Collective Bargaining Agreements that enhanced the fundamental business model of the CFL while bringing labour peace through 2018.
- Introduction, in partnership with the CFLPA, of a ground breaking new drug policy, which saw the CFL become the first major professional sports league in North America to test for HGH.
- Establishment of a centralized command centre for more effective video review of coaches’ challenges during games.
- Enhanced health and safety through the introduction of concussion protocols, rule changes, enhanced discipline and grass roots programs to make our game safer for players and kids alike.
- Construction of new or refurbished stadiums in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Hamilton, with another new stadium planned for Regina in 2017, and stadium improvement projects in Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal.
- The national celebration of the 100th Grey Cup in 2012 marked by a national tour for the historic trophy and capped by the wildly successful championship game and festival in Toronto.
- Improved profile and coverage of our national championship with sold out Grey Cup games and successful festivals in Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Regina as well as Toronto.
- Reinvigoration of the CFL brand and pride in our league through the landmark “This is Our League” marketing campaign.
- New and innovative fan friendly events and programs:
- Annual State of the League briefing hosted by Commissioner for CFL fans.
- Grey Cup Fan March which sees fans carry the Grey Cup to the stadium.
- A modernized rules committee process which invited fans to initiate rules changes.
Cohon indicated a willingness to stay on as Commissioner until his current contract expires in April 2015.
The Board of Governors will discuss next steps soon, Lawson said.
“Mark has done a wonderful job for our league,” Lawson said. “The CFL will continue to grow and succeed in the future under a new Commissioner, building on the strong foundation Mark has worked to build.”