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Ron Mason

Ron Mason (born January 14, 1940, in Blyth, Ontario, Canada, died June 12, 2016) was a Canadian former ice hockey player, head coach and university executive. As head coach of various universities, notably including Michigan State University (MSU), he became the winningest ice hockey coach in NCAA history with 924 career wins. Mason was promoted to athletic director at MSU from 2002 until 2008.


Ron Mason was born the son of Harvey Mason, a salesman, and Agnes Mackay Mason, an elementary school teacher. He married the former Marion Bell on June 8, 1963. They have two daughters, Tracy (born 1964) and Cindy (born 1968) and two grandsons, Tyler and Travis.[1] Mason has one sister, Marion Mason Rowe.


Mason earned a B.A. in physical education from St. Lawrence University in 1964 and a Masters in physical education from the University of Pittsburgh in 1965. Michigan State University awarded Mason an honorary Doctorate in 2001.

Career as Player[]

Mason played junior hockey with the Ontario Hockey Association’s Peterborough Petes and the Ottawa Junior Canadians. From there Mason enrolled at St. Lawrence University in the upstate town of Canton, New York. He lettered in hockey for three outstanding years. In his first season, Mason and the Skating Saints were NCAA national finalists. In his second season, SLU won the school's first-ever Eastern College Athletic Conference championship and made the NCAA Frozen Four. In his final season, SLU won a school-record 20 games finishing 20–6–1. Mason lead the team in scoring twice earning back-to-back first-team all league honors. Mason was St. Lawrence's only player to earn that distinction until T. J. Trevelyan was named all league in 2005 and 2006.

Career as Coach[]

Ron Mason coached at three different colleges in his career. He began his coaching career in 1966 at Lake Superior State University. Mason coached at LSSU from 1966 to 1973 where he produced four 20-win seasons and never lost more than 10 games. He guided the Lakers to the 1972 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Championship.[1] He then moved on to Bowling Green State University (1973–1979) where he won three Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular season titles and three consecutive CCHA tournament titles, 1977–1979. Mason also gave Bowling Green State and the CCHA their first berth in the NCAA tournament in 1977. Bowling Green State made three consecutive NCAA tournaments under Mason winning the third-place game over Wisconsin in the 1978 NCAA Frozen Four. At Bowling Green State, Mason coached BGSU to a then NCAA record 37 wins in 1979.

After Amo Bessone retired from Michigan State University, the MSU Athletic Director, Joseph Kearney, hired Mason as the Spartans new head coach. Mason would have unparalleled success with Michigan State for the next 23 seasons (1979–2002). It was a rough start in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association for Mason, but when Michigan State switched to the CCHA in 1981–82, Michigan State, under Mason, became one of the most successful NCAA hockey programs. Mason and the Spartans would win a national title in 1986,[1] seven CCHA regular season titles and a conference-record 10 CCHA tournament titles. In addition, MSU under Mason made 21 NCAA tournament appearances (an all-time record for a single coach at one school), seven NCAA Frozen Fours and two National Championship appearances.

Over his 36-year career Mason coached two Hobey Baker Memorial Award winners, Kip Miller in 1990 and Ryan Miller in 2001, and 15 Hobey Baker finalists. 1982 Hobey Baker award winner George McPhee was a 1978 recruit of Mason at Bowling Green State. He coached 34 AHCA First and Second Team All-Americans, 10 CCHA players of the year, 93 First and Second Team All-CCHA selections, one First Team All-WCHA selection, 54 players who went on to play in the NHL and two members of the 1980 Gold Medalist U.S. Olympic ice hockey team (Ken Morrow and Mark Wells). He also coached the first college player to be taken first overall in the NHL Draft, Joe Murphy.

In 36 seasons of coaching Mason had 33 seasons with a winning record, 30 seasons winning 20 or more games and 11 seasons winning 30 or more games. Mason won ten CCHA regular season championships and 13 CCHA tournament titles. He advanced to the NCAA tournament 24 times—six times as the No. 1 seed—making the Frozen Four eight times. Mason was the CCHA coach of the year six times. He won the Spencer Penrose Award as the national coach of the year in 1992.

Ron Mason finished his coaching career following the 2001–02 season as the all-time career victories leader in college hockey history with 924 wins. He is followed by active coach Jerry York (Boston College, 850 wins), active coach Jack Parker (Boston University, 830 wins), active coach Rick Comley (Michigan State University, 749 wins), retired coach R.H. "Bob" Peters (Bemidji State University, 744 wins) and retired coach Len Ceglarski (Boston College, 674 wins).

Career as Athletic Director[]

In February 2002, it was announced that Ron Mason would retire as head coach of ice hockey and become athletic director at Michigan State University and he began his duties as athletic director on July 1, 2002.[2] He chose Rick Comley as his successor as hockey coach.

In the fall of 2002 after a disappointing season and a series of off-the-field incidents with players, Mason made the tough decision to fire head football coach Bobby Williams on Nov. 4 with three games left in the season. Interim coach Morris Watts was replaced at the end of the season by John L. Smith.[1] John L. Smith was fired four years later in 2006 and replaced with Mark Dantonio leaving controversy over whether Mason had been effective making his first major hire as athletic director.

The silver lining for the 2006–07 season was the Michigan State hockey team winning their first NCAA national championship in 21 years. Mason became the first person to win NCAA ice hockey titles as head coach and athletic director.

In an ambitious and controversial move as athletic director, Mason placed a priority seat licensing in Spartan Stadium based on years of holding season tickets, contribution to the Ralph Young Fund and a licensing fee for better seats on top of the price of season tickets. Further updates to increase revenue in Spartan Stadium included a $64 million USD expansion and improvements which include:[1]

  • 24 luxury suites
  • 800 club seats
  • The "Grand Entrance" featuring high ceilings, glass walls, marble floors and a new home for the original Sparty statue
  • 18,000 square foot luxury concourse
  • Office space for the MSU alumni association and Spartan Athletic Office
  • State of the art recruiting lounge
  • Upgraded stadium wide bathroom and concourse renovations
  • An increase of 3000 seats, bringing the total stadium capacity to 75,005

In September 2006, Michigan State University's Board of Trustees approved a contract extension for Mason extending his contract as MSU's athletic director through June 2008. He retired from the post of athletic director at Michigan State University on January 1, 2008, and was succeeded by Mark Hollis.[3]


In addition to his success as a coach, Mason helped shape what college hockey is today. When Mason began coaching in 1966 there were only two major conferences in the NCAA, the Eastern College Athletic Conference and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Helping build the ice hockey program at Lake Superior State, Mason was left without a conference. In 1972 Mason along with Bowling Green State University's Jack Vivian, St. Louis University's Bill Selman, Ohio State University's Dave Chambers, Ohio University's John McComb and the CCHA's first commissioner Fred Jacoby formed the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. Mason's tenure at Bowling Green State produced the CCHA's first NCAA tournament berth, first appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four and the first national No. 1 ranking.

For his contributions in helping build the CCHA, the conference renamed their tournament trophy the Mason Cup in 2000–01.

Coaching Tree[]

Ron Mason has produced a long list of former players and assistant coaches who went on to be successful head coaches.

  • Rick Comley – former player and assistant coach – Lake Superior State
    • Head coach: Lake Superior State University 1973–76, Northern Michigan University 1976–2002, Michigan State University 2002–Present
      • CCHA champions: 1974, 1980, 1981
      • CCHA playoff champions: 1980, 1981, 2006
      • WCHA champions: 1991
      • WCHA playoff champions: 1989, 1991, 1992
      • NAIA National Champions: 1974
      • NCAA Tournament: 1980, 1981, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1999, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008
      • NCAA Frozen Four: 1980, 1981, 1991, 2007
      • NCAA National Finalist: 1980
      • NCAA National Champions: 1991, 2007
  • Bob Daniels – former player – Michigan State
  • George Gwozdecky – former assistant coach – Michigan State
    • Head coach: University of Wisconsin–River Falls (DIII) 1982–84, Miami University 1989–94, University of Denver 1994–SA
      • CCHA champions: 1993
      • WCHA champions: 2002, 2005, 2010
      • WCHA playoff champions: 1999, 2002, 2005
      • NAIA National Champions: 1983
      • NCAA Tournament: 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010
      • NCAA Frozen Four: 2004, 2005
      • NCAA National Champions: 2004, 2005
  • Jeff Jackson – former assistant coach – Michigan State
    • Head coach: Lake Superior State University 1990–97, University of Notre Dame 2005–SA
      • CCHA champions: 1991, 1996, 2007, 2009
      • CCHA tournament champions: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 2007, 2009
      • NCAA Tournament: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2007, 2008, 2009
      • NCAA National Finalist: 1993, 2008
      • NCAA National Champions: 1992, 1994
  • John Markell – former player – Bowling Green State
    • Head coach: Ohio State University 1994–2010
      • CCHA playoff champions: 2004
      • NCAA Tournament: 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009
      • NCAA Frozen Four: 1998
  • Tom Newton – former player and assistant coach – Bowling Green State and Michigan State
  • Shawn Walsh – former player and assistant coach – Bowling Green State and Michigan State
    • Head coach: University of Maine 1984–2001
      • Hockey East champions: 1988, 1992, 1993, 1995
      • Hockey East playoff champions: 1989, 1992, 1993, 2000
      • NCAA Tournament: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001
      • NCAA National Finalist: 1995
      • NCAA National Champions: 1993, 1999

Halls of Fame[]


Mason volunteers with the Sparrow Foundation where he established the Ron Mason Fund for Pediatric Rehabilitation which helps children with disabilities. He has raised $300,000+ for the foundation. He was also honorary chairperson for the Children’s Miracle Network which has raised $1.9 million plus.

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Koepke, Neil (June 9, 2008). The Mason Era. Lansing State Journal. Retrieved on August 10, 2010.
  2. Michigan State University (February 13, 2002). Ron Mason, one of nation's top coaches, named director of athletics at MSU. Press release. Retrieved on 10-08-2010.
  3. HIS WAY: A retirement tribute to Ron Mason. Michigan State University (June 13, 2008). Retrieved on August 10, 2010.
Preceded by
Amo Bessone
Michigan State Head Ice Hockey Coach
Succeeded by
Rick Comley

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