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.

On-court play continues to elevate the NBLC | image courtesy NBLC wesite

On-court play continues to elevate the NBLC | image courtesy NBLC wesite

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.

Devin Gray

Written by Devin Gray

Devin Gray is a Toronto Raptors reporter & columnist for @NorthPoleHoops providing recaps and feature stories, while writing about OFSAA, the NBA, NBLC, CIS, and Canada Basketball.


2 thoughts on “Paul Riley Out As NBL Commissioner

  1. hefty says:

    I know Paul. Grew up with him and respect him. He’s worked hard to get where he is in life but he was simply in over his head.

  2. Ron Elliott says:

    Paul Riley was initially part of the ownership group which brought the Rainmen to Halifax. Plus, I am told that he has done legal work for Rainmen owner, Andre Levingston. So somehow, the BOD appoints this individual as commish? Can you say conflict of interest? The athletes in this league are very talented, however, the marketing and business plans are weak. Levingston is now placing pressure on the Halifax fans by announcing through the media that if they don’t get fan support to his satisfaction during the playoffs, the team may not return next season. This comes after he has repeatedly blasted the business community for not supporting the team over the past few years. Despite having some in the corporate community support the team through advertisements and such, those same businessmen state that they will not support them again after having received less than they were led to believe they would have received through that support. There are problems here folks. If not for Eastlink, there would be no Rainmen.

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