Canadian Interuniversity Sport has tabbed a former top swimming executive to be its next senior official.
Pierre Lafontaine was introduced Thursday afternoon as the new chief executive officer of the CIS, the national governing body of university sports in Canada.
He will officially take up his new position on March 1.
“We are delighted to welcome Pierre Lafontaine and his proven experience and successful track record to CIS,” CIS president Leo MacPherson said in a news release. “He is very passionate about university sport and what we aspire to do and he is highly motivated to make a difference as our new CEO.”
Lafontaine will replace Marg McGregor, who resigned as CEO in May after 12 years on the job.
Lafontaine has spent the majority of his professional career in the world of swimming, including the role of CEO and national coach of Swimming Canada since 2005.
He said he is now looking forward to many new challenges at the head of CIS.
“Our student-athletes are tomorrow’s leaders,” he said. “We want to create the optimal environment and experience to help them develop to their full potential and achieve their goals and dreams, on and off the playing field.”
Lafontaine outlined his priorities as building the CIS brand and raising the profile of the organization and national championships.
One of his first priorities will be to land a new national television deal for the CIS.
The Vanier Cup national football championship is always broadcast live, but national TV coverage in other sports is almost non-existent.
Richard Peddie, the former CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, is a CIS board member at large who has been working to secure the organization a new television deal.
In an interview earlier this week, Peddie said that a new TV deal is almost in place but he was not ready to divulge any details yet pertaining to it.
“It will be a great deal for college sports in Canada,” Peddie said. “It’s a huge home run for them.”
Peddie said the new deal will not only increase television coverage of a broader range of men’s sports, but women’s university sports as well.
A CIS source said that the organization is on the verge of announcing that this year they have a deal in place for live national TV coverage of the women’s basketball championship in Regina, the men’s Final 8 in Ottawa and the men’s hockey championship in Saskatoon.
During his tenure at Swimming Canada, Lafontaine led the organization to consistent podium finishes at major international games, including three Olympic and 39 Paralympic medals, as well as several world-record performances.
Lafontaine, a graduate of Concordia University, lives in Beaconsfield, Que.
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