SBD/August 21, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon Stepping Down, But Leaves League In Stable Condition

Cohon will continue to work on improving the Argos' situation before departing
CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon "will not return for a third term when his current contract expires" in April, according to the CP. Now in his eighth season as CFL commissioner, "only Jake Gaudaur (1968-1984) and Sydney Halter (1958-1966) have held the position as long." Cohon said that he "made the announcement now to give the CFL's board of governors time to recruit his replacement." Among Cohon's legacies will be a "lucrative television deal, the return of Ottawa to the CFL, labour peace until 2018, a more stringent drug-testing policy and new stadium projects in Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, Hamilton and Ottawa." However, the "weak position of the Argonauts in Toronto's sports landscape and expansion into Atlantic Canada are unfinished business for Cohon, and a concussion lawsuit against the CFL was filed last month." Cohon said that he will "continue to work on improving the Argos' situation before he departs" (CP, 8/20). In Toronto, Josh Rubin notes while Cohon "had to deal with sometimes-fractious debate among team owners, he insisted there was no particular catalyst for his decision, other than the fact he’s ticked off most of the things on the to-do list he created when he started the job." Former CFL Commissioner John Tory praised Cohon "for boosting the league’s financial stability, and for earning the respect of team owners." Tory said Cohon "probably could have stayed as long as he wanted to." He added that Cohon’s departure "doesn’t reflect badly on the league" (TORONTO STAR, 8/21).

GOING OUT ON TOP: In Winnipeg, Kirk Penton writes Cohon's "list of accomplishments is much longer than his failures -- of that there is no debate." That is the main reason why he "will end up being the longest-serving CFL commissioner" since Gaudaur. Blue Bombers Chair Brock Bulbuck said, "We would all conclude that the league is much stronger today and in a much better position today than it was when Mark first started out in his role." Penton writes Cohon was "no talk and all action during his stint as the commish." He also "interacted with the fans like no commissioner before him, and he won an intense battle with the players during collective bargaining agreement talks earlier this year." The league "has never been more financially stable than it is right now" (WINNIPEG SUN, 8/21). In Calgary, George Johnson asks, "What will the Mark Cohon legacy be?" One can "start with the five-season TSN/RDS TV contract that floods" a reported C$40M into league coffers "each year that helped stabilize floundering franchises." Move on to "new stadiums either already up and running or on the way in Winnipeg, Hamilton and Regina." There also is the recent CBA, "meaning labour peace" through '18. And finally, the "resurrection of an old, valued friend in Ottawa" (CALGARY HERALD, 8/21).
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