Ron Mason

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Ron Mason
Sport(s) Ice hockey
Biographical details
Born (1940-01-14)January 14, 1940
Blyth, Ontario, Canada
Died June 13, 2016(2016-06-13) (aged 76)
Haslett, Michigan, United States
Playing career
1960–1963 St. Lawrence University
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1967–1973 Lake Superior State
1974–1979 Bowling Green
1980–2002 Michigan State
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
2002–2007 Michigan State
Head coaching record
Overall 924–380–83 (.696)

Ronald Herbert Mason (January 14, 1940 – June 13, 2016) was a Canadian ice hockey player, head coach, and university executive. A head coach of various American universities, most notably Michigan State University (MSU), he was the most successful coach in NCAA ice hockey history between 1993-2012 with 924 wins, until Jerry York (Boston College) become the new winningest coach with his 925th career win on December 29, 2012.[1] Mason was athletic director at MSU from 2002-08. He then served as senior advisor for the USHL Muskegon Lumberjacks.[2] On December 2, 2013, Mason was inducted into the U.S Hockey Hall of Fame.


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 had two daughters, Tracey (born 1963) and Cindy (born 1968) and two grandsons, Tyler and Travis.[3] Travis was a defenseman on the Michigan State University hockey team until his graduation in 2016.[4] Mason had 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.[5]

Career as player[edit]

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 where he lettered in hockey for three years. In his first season at SLU in 1960-61, Mason and the Skating Saints were NCAA national finalists.[1] In 1961-62, Mason and SLU won the school's first-ever Eastern College Athletic Conference championship and made the NCAA Frozen Four.[1] In his final season, SLU won a school-record 20 games[1] finishing 20–6–1. Mason lead the team in scoring twice[1] 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.[6]

Career as coach[edit]

Mason coached one NAIA program, Lake Superior State, and two NCAA programs, Bowling Green State and Michigan State in 36 seasons from 1966-2002. He won two national titles: NAIA in 1972 with Lake Superior State and NCAA in 1986 with Michigan State.[7] Ron Mason finished his coaching career as the all-time career victories leader in college hockey history with 924 wins. Boston College's Jerry York surpassed Mason's win total on December 31, 2012. Mason is also the career coaching victories leader at Michigan State with 635 wins. He is Bowling Green State's winningest coach by percentage winning over 71 percent of his 229 games at BGSU.

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 a record 13 CCHA tournament titles. He advanced his teams to the NCAA tournament 22 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 Memorial Trophy as the national coach of the year in 1992.[8]

On January 26, 2002, a media report stated Mason would step down as coach at Michigan State to take over the athletic director position at MSU. On January 28, 2002, Mason made it official he would leave his post as head ice hockey coach to become athletic director.[9]

Lake Superior State[edit]

Mason started the hockey program at Lake Superior State University in 1966. In seven seasons at LSSU 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.[3]

Bowling Green State[edit]

In 1973 he moved to Bowling Green State University where he won three Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular season titles and three consecutive CCHA tournament titles in six seasons. In 1977 Bowling Green State earned their first berth in the NCAA tournament. The berth was a first for a team not from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association or Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference[10] in the NCAA tournament's 30 year history. It was the first of three consecutive NCAA tournaments under Mason. BGSU won the third-place game over defending national champion Wisconsin in the 1978 NCAA Frozen Four. In 1978-79 Mason coached BGSU to a then NCAA record 37 wins.[11] The record would be broken in 1984-85 by Mason's own Michigan State team.[12]

Michigan State[edit]

Michigan State University Athletic Director Joseph Kearney hired Mason to replace the retiring Amo Bessone on April 1, 1979.[13] In his third season at MSU, Mason guided Michigan State to their first NCAA tournament in 15 seasons. Four seasons later in 1986, Mason led Michigan State to the school's second national title.[14] Michigan State returned to the championship game the following season but lost to North Dakota. On March 12, 1993, with a 6-5 win over Kent State, Mason passed former Boston College coach Len Ceglarski to become college hockey's all-time winningest coach with 674 wins.[15] While at MSU, Mason won a conference-record 10 CCHA tournament championships, including a conference-record four straight from 1982-85. In addition, MSU under Mason won seven CCHA regular season titles, earned 19 NCAA tournament appearances, and earned seven NCAA Frozen Four appearances.

Career as athletic director[edit]

Ron Mason began his duties as athletic director on July 1, 2002.[16] Before he officially became athletic director, Mason chose Rick Comley as his successor as hockey coach.

On November 4, 2002, after a disappointing season and a series of off-the-field incidents with players, Mason fired head football coach Bobby Williams with three games left in the season and eventually hired John L. Smith away from Louisville as his permanent replacement.[3] Mason fired Smith after three consecutive losing seasons leading some to believe he did not know what he was doing. However, Mason redeemed himself by hiring Mark Dantonio away from Cincinnati, who brought the Spartans to football prominence.

While athletic director, the Michigan State hockey team won the school's third national title in 2007. Mason is the only person to have won NCAA ice hockey titles as head coach and athletic director.

Mason placed a priority seat licensing program 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:[3]

  • 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 (1,700 m2) 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.[13]

Legacy with the CCHA[edit]

In addition to his success as a coach, Mason was involved in organizing the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) and helping it to grow into one of the most powerful college hockey conferences of the 1980s, '90s, and 2000s.[7] 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. While building the ice hockey program at Lake Superior State to Division I status, Mason found that his team 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.[10] Mason's coaching tenure at Bowling Green State produced the CCHA's first NCAA tournament berth, first appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four, and first national No. 1 ranking.[10]

For his contributions in helping build the CCHA, the conference renamed their tournament championship trophy as the Mason Cup in 2000–01.[7]


Mason volunteered with the Sparrow Foundation where he established the Ron Mason Fund for Pediatric Rehabilitation which helps children with disabilities. The fund has raised $675,000 for the foundation since 1998.[5] He was also honorary chairperson for the Children's Miracle Network which has raised $19 million plus since 1989.[5]

Notable players coached[edit]

In his 36 years, Mason coached a number of outstanding players.

Hobey Baker Award winners[edit]

Ryan Miller 2001 Goalie Michigan State Won award as a sophomore goaltender. Cousin of 1990 winner Kip Miller.[17]
Kip Miller 1990 Forward Michigan State Michigan State's first Hobey Baker Award winner.
George McPhee 1982 Forward Bowling Green State Mason recruited McPhee to BGSU and coached him for one season.[18]

Hobey Baker Award finalists[edit]

Ron Scott 1982 and 1983
Kelly Miller 1985
Craig Simpson 1985
Mike Donnelly 1986
Bobby Reynolds 1989
Bryan Smolinski 1993
Anson Carter 1995
Chad Alban 1998
Mike York 1998 and 1999
Shawn Horcoff 2000
Ryan Miller 2002

AHCA All-America[edit]

Don Muio 1972 Goalie Lake Superior State College Division
Jim Wiley 1972 Forward Lake Superior State College Division
Ken Morrow 1978 Defense Bowling Green State
Ron Scott 1982 Goalie Michigan State
Ron Scott 1983 Goalie Michigan State
Dan McFall 1984 Defense Michigan State Second Team
Dan McFall 1985 Defense Michigan State
Kelly Miller 1985 Forward Michigan State
Craig Simpson 1985 Forward Michigan State
Gary Haight 1985 Defense Michigan State Second Team
Mike Donnelly 1986 Forward Michigan State
Don McSween 1986 Defense Michigan State Second Team
Mitch Messier 1987 Forward Michigan State
Don McSween 1987 Defense Michigan State Second Team
Kip Miller 1989 Forward Michigan State
Bobby Reynolds 1989 Forward Michigan State
Kip Miller 1990 Forward Michigan State
Jason Muzzatti 1990 Goalie Michigan State Second Team
Jason Woolley 1991 Defense Michigan State
Joby Messier 1992 Defense Michigan State
Dwayne Norris 1992 Forward Michigan State
Bryan Smolinski 1993 Forward Michigan State
Steve Guolla 1994 Forward Michigan State Second Team
Anson Carter 1995 Forward Michigan State Second Team
Chad Alban 1998 Goalie Michigan State
Mike York 1998 Forward Michigan State
Tyler Harlton 1998 Defense Michigan State Second Team
Sean Berens 1998 Forward Michigan State Second Team
Joe Blackburn 1999 Goalie Michigan State
Mike York 1999 Forward Michigan State
Mike Weaver 1999 Defense Michigan State Second Team
Shawn Horcoff 2000 Forward Michigan State
Mike Weaver 2000 Defense Michigan State
Ryan Miller 2001 Goalie Michigan State
Ryan Miller 2002 Goalie Michigan State
Andrew Hutchinson 2002 Defense Michigan State Second Team
John-Michael Liles 2002 Defense Michigan State Second Team

CCHA Player of the Year[edit]

Mike Liut 1977 Goalie Bowling Green State
John Markell 1978 Forward Bowling Green State
Ken Morrow 1979 Defense Bowling Green State
Kip Miller 1990 Forward Michigan State
Dwayne Norris 1992 Forward Michigan State
Chad Alban 1998 Goalie Michigan State
Mike York 1999 Forward Michigan State
Shawn Horcoff 2000 Forward Michigan State
Ryan Miller 2001 Goalie Michigan State
Ryan Miller 2002 Goalie Michigan State

NHL first round draft picks[edit]

Craig Simpson 1985 Pittsburgh Penguins 2nd
Joe Murphy* 1986 Detroit Red Wings 1st
Jason Muzzatti 1988 Calgary Flames 21st
Rod Brind'Amour 1988 St. Louis Blues 9th
Bryan Smolinski 1990 Boston Bruins 21st
Michael Stewart 1990 New York Rangers 13th
Jim Slater 2002 Atlanta Thrashers 30th

Joe Murphy was first ever NCAA player selected first overall[5][19]

Select NHL players[edit]

Rod Brind'Amour Michigan State 21 seasons
Anson Carter Michigan State 12 seasons
Danton Cole Michigan State 7 seasons
Jim Cummins Michigan State 12 seasons
Bob Essensa Michigan State 12 seasons
Steve Guolla Michigan State 6 seasons
Adam Hall Michigan State 10 seasons
Shawn Horcoff Michigan State 11 seasons
Andrew Hutchinson Michigan State 6 seasons
Duncan Keith Michigan State 6 seasons
John-Michael Liles Michigan State 8 seasons
Mike Liut Bowling Green State 13 seasons
Chris Luongo Michigan State 4 seasons
Brian MacLellan Bowling Green State 10 seasons
George McPhee Bowling Green State 7 seasons
Kelly Miller Michigan State 16 seasons
Kevin Miller Michigan State 12 seasons
Kip Miller Michigan State 12 seasons
Ryan Miller Michigan State 9 seasons
Ken Morrow Bowling Green State 10 seasons
Joe Murphy Michigan State 15 seasons
Rem Murray Michigan State 9 seasons
Craig Simpson Michigan State 10 seasons
Jim Slater Michigan State 7 seasons
Bryan Smolinski Michigan State 17 seasons
Mike Watt Michigan State 5 seasons
Mike Weaver Michigan State 10 seasons
Peter White Michigan State 10 seasons
Jim Wiley Lake Superior State 4 seasons
Neil Wilkinson Michigan State 10 seasons
Jason Woolley Michigan State 14 seasons
Mike York Michigan State 10 seasons


Bob Dobek 1976 USA
Doug Ross 1976 USA
Ken Morrow 1980 USA Gold
Mark Wells 1980 USA Gold
Gary Haight 1984 USA
Kevin Miller 1988 USA
Geir Hoff 1988 Norway
Brian Stankiewicz 1988 Austria
Jason Woolley 1992 Canada Silver
Geir Hoff 1992 Norway
Dwayne Norris 1994 Canada Silver
Geir Hoff 1994 Norway
Brian Stankiewicz 1994 Austria
Rod Brind'Amour 1998 Canada
Mike York 2002 USA Silver
John-Michael Liles 2006 USA
Jason Muzzatti 2006 Italy
Tony Tuzzolino 2006 Italy
Ryan Miller 2010, 2014 USA Silver ('10)
Duncan Keith 2010, 2014 Canada Gold ('10, '14)

Coaching tree[edit]

Many former and current college hockey head coaches can trace their lineage back to Ron Mason as shown below either as former players or former assistant coaches for Mason.

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Lake Superior State Lakers (Independent) (1966–1967)
1966–67 Lake Superior State 15-5-0
Lake Superior State Lakers (ICHA) (1967–1972)
1967–68 Lake Superior State 21-3-2 15-1-0 1st NAIA Finalist
1968–69 Lake Superior State 21-5-0 12-4-0 2nd NAIA Finalist
1969–70 Lake Superior State 19-7-0 10-2-0 T-1st NAIA Finalist
1970–71 Lake Superior State 13-7-4 5-5-2 3rd
1971–72 Lake Superior State 20-8-2 12-0-0 1st NAIA Champion
Lake Superior State Lakers (CCHA) (1972–1973)
1972–73 Lake Superior State 21-9-0 9-3-0 2nd NAIA Third Place
Lake Superior State: 130-44-8 64-15-2
Bowling Green Falcons (CCHA) (1973–1979)
1973–74 Bowling Green 20-19-0 2-6-0 3rd CCHA Third Place Game (Win)
1974–75 Bowling Green 23-10-2 4-3-1 2nd CCHA Semifinals
1975–76 Bowling Green 21-9-2 11-4-1 1st CCHA Semifinals
1976–77 Bowling Green 28-11-0 10-6-0 2nd NCAA Quarterfinal
1977–78 Bowling Green 31-8-0 15-3-0 1st NCAA Consolation Game (Win)
1978–79 Bowling Green 37-6-2 21-2-1 1st NCAA Quarterfinal
Bowling Green: 160-63-6 63-24-3
Michigan State Spartans (WCHA / Big Ten) (1979–1981)
1979–80 Michigan State 14-24-0 12-16-0 8th / 3rd WCHA Quarterfinals
1980–81 Michigan State 12-22-2 7-20-1 10th / 4th
Michigan State Spartans (CCHA) (1981–2002)
1981–82 Michigan State 26-14-2 21-10-1 2nd NCAA Quarterfinals
1982–83 Michigan State 30-11-1 23-9-0 2nd NCAA Quarterfinals
1983–84 Michigan State 34-12-0 21-9-0 T-2nd NCAA Consolation Game (Loss)
1984–85 Michigan State 38-6-0 27-5-0 1st NCAA Quarterfinals
1985–86 Michigan State 34-9-2 23-7-2 1st NCAA Champion
1986–87 Michigan State 33-10-2 23-8-1 2nd NCAA Runner-Up
1987–88 Michigan State 27-16-3 18-11-3 3rd NCAA Quarterfinals
1988–89 Michigan State 37-9-1 25-6-1 1st NCAA Consolation Game (Win)
1989–90 Michigan State 35-7-3 26-3-3 1st NCAA Quarterfinals
1990–91 Michigan State 17-18-5 14-13-5 5th CCHA Quarterfinals
1991–92 Michigan State 26-10-8 18-7-7 3rd NCAA Frozen Four
1992–93 Michigan State 24-14-2 18-10-2 4th CCHA Second Round
1993–94 Michigan State 23-13-4 17-8-5 3rd NCAA Regional Quarterfinals
1994–95 Michigan State 25-12-3 17-7-3 3rd NCAA Regional Quarterfinals
1995–96 Michigan State 28-13-1 22-7-1 T-3rd NCAA Regional Quarterfinals
1996–97 Michigan State 23-13-4 16-7-4 3rd NCAA Regional Quarterfinals
1997–98 Michigan State 33-6-5 21-5-4 1st NCAA Regional Semifinals
1998–99 Michigan State 29-6-7 20-3-7 1st NCAA Frozen Four
1999–00 Michigan State 27-11-4 18-8-2 2nd NCAA Regional Quarterfinals
2000–01 Michigan State 33-5-4 21-4-3 1st NCAA Frozen Four
2001–02 Michigan State 27-9-5 18-6-4 2nd NCAA Regional Quarterfinals
Michigan State: 635-270-69
Total: 924-380-83

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

See also[edit]

Awards and honors[edit]

Award Year
All-ECAC Hockey First Team 1961–62
ECAC Hockey All-Tournament First Team 1962
All-ECAC Hockey First Team 1962–63
ECAC Hockey All-Tournament Second Team 1963


  1. ^ a b c d e "Ron Mason '64". St. Lawrence University. Retrieved August 26, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Lumberjacks Make Changes to Hockey Operations Staff" (Press release). USHL. January 13, 2012. Retrieved August 26, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d Koepke, Neil (June 9, 2008). "The Mason Era". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  4. ^ Mackinder, Matt (January 31, 2012). "Checking In: Former Michigan State coach Ron Mason". USCHO. Retrieved August 26, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Mason To Be Honored as Distinguished Alumnus at Hockey Banquet" (Press release). Michigan State University. March 11, 2008. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  6. ^ "ST. LAWRENCE'S MADILL AND TREVELYAN INK NHL DEALS" (Press release). ECAC Hockey. August 28, 2006. Retrieved August 26, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c "CCHA Trophy Renamed In Honor Of Mason" (Press release). Michigan State University. October 4, 2000. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Spencer Penrose Award (Division I Coach of the Year)". AHCA. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  9. ^ Wodon, Adam (January 28, 2002). "Mason Elaborates on Decision to Step Down". USCHO. Retrieved August 26, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c "Moments in CCHA History". Central Collegiate Hockey Association. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Ron Mason: 2009 BGSU Hall of Fame Inductee" (Press release). Bowling Green State University. October 19, 2009. Retrieved August 26, 2012. 
  12. ^ Kravitz, Bob (April 7, 1986). "Fast Finish For The Spartans". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved August 28, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b "HIS WAY: A retirement tribute to Ron Mason". Michigan State University. June 13, 2008. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  14. ^ Koepke, Neil (February 21, 2011). "MSU hockey: Goal No. 1". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved August 28, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Faces In The Crowd". Sports Illustrated. April 12, 1993. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Ron Mason, one of nation's top coaches, named director of athletics at MSU" (Press release). Michigan State University. February 13, 2002. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Michigan State's Miller captures trophy". USA Today. April 18, 2001. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  18. ^ Miller, Bob (February 27, 2012). "College Hockey, Inc’s Nate Ewell talks with CHP". College Hockey PROSPECTive. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Hockey in the United States". National Hockey League. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Award Created
Bill Selman

Bill Wilkinson
Frank Anzalone

John Markell
CCHA Coach of the Year
Succeeded by
Bill Selman

Rick Comley
Bill Wilkinson

Jeff Jackson
Scott Borek
Preceded by
Rick Comley
Spencer Penrose Award
Succeeded by
George Gwozdecky
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Amo Bessone
Michigan State Head Ice Hockey Coach
Succeeded by
Rick Comley