President Potter announced last week that former University of North Dakota head hockey coach John “Gino” Gasparini has been appointed by the President as special athletic adviser. Gasparini has been a manager of sports teams and facilities for 35 years. He started on March 1.
“There’s widespread agreement among people who know hockey across the country that Gino Gasparini is not Herb Brooks but he’s not far behind Herb Brooks in terms of his stature in the hockey world,” Potter said.
Herb Brooks, the legendary former Olympic hockey coach that led the U.S. team to a gold medal in 1980, was the first Division I hockey coach for SCSU.
Previously, Gasparini worked as a consultant for the architectural firm JLG Architects where he helped to develop sports facilities. He was the head coach of the University of North Dakota men’s hockey team from 1978-1994. During his 16 years as coach, the Fighting Sioux won three national championships and four conference championships.
In 1995 Gasparini became the commissioner of the United States Hockey League. During his time with the USHL, there was a growth in League attendance, number of scholarships awarded to players, and number of players selected for the NHL Entry Draft. He later served as the president of the USHL for seven years. His impact on the USHL was such that the highest award that the League gives to contributors has been named The Gino Gasparini Distinguished Service Award.
Gasparini will use his knowledge of sporting facilities to expand the reach of husky athletics.
“My number one project will be the National Hockey and Events Center and its renovation,” Gasparini said. “It is the one project that will have the greatest impact on revenue, on the community, on how the athletic department operates in the future, and on the quality of life of the students on this campus and the residents of St. Cloud.”
The National Hockey and Events Center (NHEC) will also function as a community events center for the university and the city.
Previously, the renovation of the National Hockey Center was overseen by athletic director Morris Kurtz, but “it’s a huge job for just the athletic director,” Anne Abicht, director of athletic media relations explained.
Gasparini’s role will primarily be advisory to president Potter and to the athletic department. His contract with SCSU lasts for six months but could be extended depending on the necessities of the athletic department and the National Hockey Center.
His salary is funded by the SCSU Foundation.
In addition to advising Potter on the renovation of this facility, he will serve on an advisory panel that will help the president decide what is needed for a future athletic director after Morris Kurtz’s retirement. He will also help prepare Husky athletics for anticipated changes in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. In addition, Gasparini will use his athletic connections to raise the necessary funds for the National Hockey Center’s renovation.
“Right now, we’re facing a major challenge for our hockey program,” Potter said. “There’s going to be a major shuffling of Division I hockey teams in middle America, so there’s a major strategic challenge for this university, and hockey’s the sport that generates excess revenue that pays a good part of the expenses for the rest of our sports.”