Thurgood Marshall College Fund > About Us > Meet The Team > Board of Directors > Gary Bettman
Gary B. Bettman
National Hockey League
|Gary B. Bettman has served the National Hockey League as Commissioner since February 1, 1993 and has guided the world’s top professional hockey league through nearly two decades of growth and advancement – on the ice and off. Record revenues, record attendance and a wide variety of fan-friendly initiatives are just a few trademarks of Commissioner Bettman’s tenure.The 2011-12 season marks the League’s seventh under a restructured economic system created by its Collective Bargaining Agreement with the National Hockey League Players’ Association. The campaign also is the seventh under a progressive set of rules implemented to accentuate the speed, skill and creativity of the players. Through the resulting competitive balance, 28 of the League’s 30 Clubs have qualified for the playoffs and a different team has received the most cherished and historic trophy in professional sports – the Stanley Cup – in each of those seasons.The combination of competitive balance, exciting play, a calendar of signature events that includes the outdoor games and regular-season games in European cities, has driven fan engagement and sponsor participation to unprecedented levels. In 2010-11, despite a challenged economy, the NHL increased revenues to well over $3 billion, reached record audiences on its website, NHL.com, signed a variety of new business partnerships and renewed several others.
Advancements in the game under Commissioner Bettman have included the implementation of four-on-four overtime and the ‘shootout,’ which combined to eliminate tied games during the regular season. Creation of the two-referee system revolutionized hockey officiating around the world. Innovations also have included advancements in the area of instant replay, emergency on-ice trauma care and elevations in the study of injuries – concussions, in particular. The NHL was the first professional sports league to mandate neuropsychological baseline testing to help determine return-to-play guidelines for players who have suffered concussions. The League also developed a protocol that requires immediate screening, away from the ice, for any player suspected of having suffered a concussion.
In addition, Commissioner Bettman created the first Department of Player Safety in pro sports history. The Department is entrusted with the continued consideration of changes to rules and equipment that will make the game safer for the players. The NHL also was the first sports League to explain player supplementary discipline rulings in videos available to the teams, fans and media through the League’s digital outlets – a cutting-edge advancement that has been hailed throughout the sports world.
In 2011, Commissioner Bettman negotiated a 10-year broadcast agreement with Comcast/NBC Sports Group that provided rights fees in excess of $2 billion and created a variety of promotional and new-media platforms, including a guarantee that, for the first time, all Stanley Cup Playoff games would be available nationally in the U. S.