WCHA Press Releases

Former WCHA Associate Commissioner Doug Spencer Named 2020 Otto Breitenbach Award Winner
Long-time league publicist honored for his service

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Sept. 8, 2020 – Former Western Collegiate Hockey Association Associate Commissioner Doug Spencer has been chosen by the league's 10 member institutions as the 2020 recipient of the WCHA Otto Breitenbach Distinguished Service Award.

"We want to congratulate Doug on receiving the prestigious Otto Breitenbach Award," WCHA Men's League Commissioner Bill Robertson said. Doug's devotion to both the Men's and Women's WCHA during his long and distinguished career was highlighted by his passion for the league, which was second to none."

Spencer dutifully served to communicate and promote the innumerable stories and events that defined college hockey's most historic and successful conference for 32 years, first as the Assistant Sports Information Director at the University of Wisconsin (1982-1990) and as the WCHA Associate Commissioner of Public Relations (1986-2014).

"I am both humbled and truly honored to have been chosen to receive the WCHA's Otto Breitenbach Distinguished Service Award," Spencer said. "There were so many special moments over my four decades with the league it's impossible to mention them all. But I was fortunate to have worked with many, many legendary coaches, commissioners, referees and administrators. The WCHA, in my opinion, is the best college hockey league in history. And I will always be extremely proud to have been a part of it."

During a tenure that spanned men's commissioners Otto Breitenbach and Bruce McLeod and women's commissioner Sara Martin, Spencer coordinated public and media information needs, assisted in the general administration of the annual WCHA Final Five, produced numerous publications for both the men's and women's leagues, issued regular press releases and statistics, and maintained the WCHA's record books.

"As someone who worked with Doug throughout his time with the WCHA, I saw his dedication to the league first-hand," WCHA Supervisor of Officials Greg Shepherd said. "Doug worked tirelessly to promote our league and our student-athletes during a time when the WCHA enjoyed some of its greatest success. There was no one better at his job."

Spencer oversaw the initial development and management of the league's first website and its long-running radio show, "This Week in the WCHA." He directed promotional efforts associated with the WCHA's 50th Anniversary celebration in 2001-02, including coordinating production of a five-disk DVD series that covered each of the league's first five decades, a "Top 50 Players in 50 Years" unveiling, a 50-year reunion and reception for league alumni, and all logos, banners and merchandise. Spencer also traveled to Switzerland and Norway with WCHA all-star teams and assisted in hosting international touring teams from Russia, Finland, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

Spencer's distinguished career with both the men's and women's WCHA included publicity efforts surrounding 25 NCAA championship teams, multiple Hobey Baker Memorial Award and Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winners, and hundreds of All-Americans and Olympians.

Spencer, who also served as the Publicity and Publications Director for the Amateur Hockey Association of the United States (now USA Hockey) from 1979-1982, was honored by the American Hockey Coaches Association in 2015 as the recipient of the annual Jim Fullerton Award.

The Breitenbach Award is presented by the WCHA's 10 member institutions to individuals who have rendered extraordinary service to the Association. Spencer is the 42nd recipient of the award. Among the previous winners are head coaches Herb Brooks, Bob Johnson, John Mariucci and John MacInnes and former commissioners Bruce McLeod, Burt Smith and the award's namesake, Otto Breitenbach. Spencer is the second former WCHA publicist to be honored, joining Bob Reid, who served the league from 1953-74.

Breitenbach served as the WCHA's second commissioner from 1983-1994, an era that saw the league produce three national championships (North Dakota- 1987, Wisconsin- 1990 and Northern Michigan- 1991) and five Hobey Baker winners. Breitenbach was oversaw the return of Michigan Tech to the WCHA along with the addition of Northern Michigan, St. Cloud State and Alaska Anchorage. He was also instrumental in the development of the WCHA Final Five postseason tournament.

WCHA Otto Breitenbach Distinguished Service Award Winners
Name Position(s) Institution(s)
Murray Armstrong Coach Denver
Amo Bessone Coach Michigan State
Otto Breitenbach Commissioner WCHA
Herb Brooks Coach Minnesota
Jerry Carle Athletic Director Colorado College
Thomas Clifford President North Dakota
Rick Comley Coach/Athletic Director Northern Michigan
Jack Fuzak Faculty Representative Michigan State
Gino Gasparini Coach/Athletic Director North Dakota
Robert Geary Executive Secretary/Athletic Director WCHA/Minnesota
Paul Giel Athletic Director Minnesota
Bob Gilray Referee WCHA
Laura Halldorson Coach Minnesota
Vic Heyliger Coach Michigan
Bob Johnson Coach Colorado College/Wisconsin
Ross Johnson Faculty Representative/Executive Secretary Michigan Tech/WCHA
Ted Kearly Athletic Director Michigan Tech
Carol LaBelle Ehrhardt Associate Commissioner WCHA
John MacInnes Coach Michigan Tech
John Mariucci Coach Michigan Tech
Leonard Marti Athletic Director North Dakota
Bob Martin Broadcaster Denver
Joel Maturi Athletic Director Wisconsin/Denver/Minnesota
Bruce McLeod Commissioner WCHA
Butch Mosseau Referee WCHA
Bob Olson Broadcaster Michigan Tech
Marcus Plant Faculty Representative Michigan
Bob Reid Publicity & Statistics WCHA
Frank Remington Faculty Representative Wisconsin
Al Renfrew Coach Michigan/Michigan Tech/North Dakota
Ralph Romano Athletic Director Minnesota Duluth
George Schubert Faculty Representative North Dakota
Max Schultze Faculty Representative Minnesota
Mike Sertich Coach Minnesota Duluth/Michigan Tech
Burt Smith Commissioner WCHA
Charles Smith Coach Notre Dame
Doug Spencer Associate Commissioner WCHA
Robert Stein Faculty Representative Minnesota
Terry Toy Faculty Representative Denver
Ray Werner Faculty Representative Colorado College
Doug Woog Coach Minnesota
Rick Yeo Athletic Director/Coach Michigan Tech

About the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Men's League

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association, among the most historic, tradition-rich and successful conferences in all of collegiate athletics, will mark its 69th season of men's competition in 2020-21. The 10-team NCAA Division I conference consists of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (Chargers), the University of Alaska Anchorage (Seawolves), the University of Alaska (Nanooks), Bemidji State University (Beavers), Bowling Green State University (Falcons), Ferris State University (Bulldogs), Lake Superior State University (Lakers), Michigan Technological University (Huskies), Minnesota State University (Mavericks) and Northern Michigan University (Wildcats). For more information, visit wcha.com.