Canada’s pro basketball league, the NBL Canada, is preparing for a changing of the guard.
Commissioner Paul Riley is no longer the NBLC’s commissioner, and deputy commissioner Sam Hill has resigned as well.
The eight-team League’s board of directors voted unanimously on Jan. 23 to exercise a termination clause in Riley’s contract, but only announced the decision in a release that came late Friday.
While the search for a new commissioner is underway, the board of directors has taken over the day-to-day operations of the league until the end of the season.
Riley’s 17-month tenure with the NBLC was a rocky one.
A trumpeted TV deal with beIN Sports Canada was supposed to produce two games a week as well as coverage during the playoffs and the league’s all-star weekend, but never came to fruition.
New ownership was never found for the Montreal Jazz and play was suspended for the Ottawa SkyHawks, prompting an ugly PR war.
Attendance is still a struggle in many markets, and league-wide sponsorship has yet to realize the potential of the domestic market.
With Butch Carter’s CBL challenging on the horizon, the NBL needs to evaluate their position as a league and make the right hire at this crucial juncture of Canadian pro hoops.
Talent levels in the NBLC have improved drastically over the first four years and the product on the floor is entertaining, high level basketball.
A new commissioner would have a wealth of contacts in the business and media sectors, a plan to market the product effectively, and an approach that’s open and realistic.
A Canadian domestic pro league is vital to the growth of basketball in this country. It’s about raising the profile of Canadian talent and giving hoopsters from the north a place to make a living and hone their craft close to home. So we’ll hope for the best amid the growing pains, and continue to look forward to a profitable, sustainable league that Canadians will be proud to call their own.