Richard J. Ensor was named the third Commissioner of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in August 1988. In the 24 years since his appointment, Ensor has provided leadership to the conference in a period of transition and growth in intercollegiate athletics and the MAAC. During his tenure the MAAC has secured a stable membership base, expanded the number of championships conducted and developed an extensive marketing program cemented with broadcast agreements with ESPN, a web paged hosted by NeuLion and partner championship venues such as the MassMutual Center, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Disney Sports Attractions. During a time of tumultuous realignment within NCAA Division I conferences the MAAC remains a homogenous association of private institutions of similar size and funding, which are committed to student-athlete excellence both on the playing fields and in the classroom.
Under Ensor’s direction, the MAAC has focused efforts to showcase its member institutions in its annual men’s and women’s basketball tournament. Since 1990 with the support of the MAAC Council of Presidents and the league’s athletic administrators and coaches the MAAC has held its premier event in state of the art playing facilities such as the Times Union Center in Albany, NY, the Frist Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY, the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA and the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT. The 2013 & 2014 championships will be hosted at the MassMutual Center in S Springfield, MA.
Ensor has also been instrumental in the expansion of MAAC sports offerings. In 1992 the MAAC added women’s soccer, in 1996 men’s lacrosse, and in 1997 women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s indoor track and rowing. In 1998, the MAAC added outdoor track and field and women’s golf, and in 2002-03 it added women’s water polo. The league currently sponsors 24 sports and is awarded automatic or play-in bids to 14 NCAA championships [baseball, softball, tennis (m&w), men’s golf, basketball (m&w), outdoor track (m&w), lacrosse (m&w), rowing (w), soccer (m&w) water polo (w) and volleyball (w)]. Additionally, MAAC men’s and women’s cross country have access to the NCAA championship through a regional qualifier race. Over half the MAAC sponsored sports now have direct access to NCAA Championships for the first time in the history of the conference. (Up from 13 sports and two automatic bids in 1988.)
To award its fans, arena partners and membership, the MAAC during Ensor’s tenure has been very aggressive in seeking out opportunities to host NCAA Championships in various sports. With member schools it has served as a co-host of the 1995, 2000, 2004, 2007 and 2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament First and Second Rounds at the Times Union Center and the HSBC Arena (again the host for the 2014 2nd & 3rd rounds), respectively, and the 2003 NCAA Men’s Basketball East Regional at the Albany, NY arena and the 2003 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four at the Buffalo venue. Additionally, the MAAC co-hosted the 1998, 2000, 2003, 2004 & 2006 NCAA Northeast Cross Country Regional at Van Cortlandt Park - Bronx, NY. In 2002, the MAAC was a co-host of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship at the Times Union Center, and it repeated as host in 2011 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. All the NCAA men’s championships the MAAC has hosted with its arena partners have been sellouts. The MAAC co-hosted the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament First and Second Rounds at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, NJ in 2006 and then hosted the Trenton Regional at the same site in 2009. In 2013 the MAAC will host the regional again, this time at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT.
Ensor, who spearheads the league’s marketing efforts, has sought to tie the conference’s strong academic image into its marketing campaign. The MAAC has carved a well-earned niche as an athletic conference that balances quality academics and athletics. The marketing efforts have been timely, as it has highlighted the conference’s continued rise in the basketball standings. Ensor has aggressively pushed the MAAC into internet-based marketing through its award winning web page, www.maacsports.com, and other technology driven initiatives such as the league’s MAAC.TV.
Community relations based programs have also been central to the MAAC’s enhanced outreach marketing. In 2013 the MAAC announced a partnership with the Jimmy Fund built around the basketball championships in Springfield, MA. The Jimmy Fund is operated by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute which is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. In 2010, the MAAC announced a multi-year agreement with ESPN which includes 40 plus broadcasts annually on ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3 including men’s and women’s basketball and championships from ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.
In 1998 the MAAC under Ensor’s direction began a new marketing and championship initiative when it entered into a multi-year agreement with Disney Sports Attractions to host on a rotating basis at the Orlando, FL facility the conference’s volleyball, men’s soccer, men’s & women’s cross country and women’s soccer championships. In 2000 the partnership was extended to the conference’s annual men’s and women’s golf championship at Disney on its Magnolia and Palm courses. In 2006 the MAAC the partnership with Disney when it entered into a multi-year hosting agreement with ESPN to sponsor the Old Spice Men’s Basketball Classic in Orlando.
A 1975 graduate of Saint Peter’s University, Ensor was named Assistant Director of the Recreation Life Center at his alma mater shortly after graduation, a position he held until 1978. He was then named Assistant Athletic Director at St. Louis University before returning to Saint Peter’s a year later. This time, Ensor held the position of Sports Information Director, with a number of publications during his three-year tenure, earning honors from the College Sports Information Directors of America. In 1982, Ensor decided to return to school and earned his Master’s degree in sports management with honors from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. An attorney, Ensor graduated from Seton Hall University’s School of Law in 1987 and was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in June of that year. Ensor was named Assistant Athletic Director of Marketing and Promotions at Seton Hall in 1985, before returning to Massachusetts as an Assistant Professor in the Sport Management Department, where his concentration was on sports marketing and sports law.
Ensor is a member of many professional associations, including the American Bar Association. In addition, Ensor is a member of sport-related associations such as the Sports Lawyers Association, the New Jersey Bar Association Sports Law Committee, the American Bar Association, Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries, NACDA and the CAANJ. His community work includes current stints as a board member of the Mercer County Sports & Entertainment Commission and the Monsignor Donovan High School Leadership Advisory Committee. He has published in the areas of Sport Law, and Sport Marketing. In 1994 Ensor served as chair of the New Jersey Bar Association Sport Law Committee.
A member of the Collegiate Commissioner’s Association (CCA), Ensor in 2007 began a two-year elected term as President of the association. Ensor has been very involved in NCAA governance since 1999 when he began a four-year term on the NCAA Division I Management Council, a segment of the new national governing system for the intercollegiate sports association. He currently chairs the Council’s Governance subcommittee. Ensor had previously served on the old NCAA Council and in January 1996, he served as Chair of the Division I-AA NCAA Convention/Business Session. In 2013, he began a term on the NCAA Administration Cabinet where he serves on the AdCom. He previously served on the Division I Championships Cabinet where he chaired the exempted events subcommittee. Ensor has also served on the NCAA Division IAA Governance Committee and on NCAA committees dealing with playing season exemptions, athletic certification, and the regulatory culture of the NCAA, governance restructuring and antitrust issues. Ensor was appointed in 1996 and 2003 to a one-year terms as the chair of the IAA commissioners. From 1999-2003 he was served as Secretary/Treasurer of the Ice Hockey Collegiate Commissioners Association.
In 2007 Ensor extended his involvement with national issues when he was appointed to a 5-year term on the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee. The committee is charged with annually selecting teams, seeding, bracketing and operating the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship including the Final Four.
In 2001 Ensor was named by the American Football Foundation as its Commissioner of the Year and in 1999 he was presented a Distinguished Service Award from the Metropolitan Basketball Writers and in 1998 was inducted into the Saint Peter’s University Hall of Fame. He also is a member of the Monsignor Donovan HS Hall of Fame. In 1996, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Sport Management Program named Ensor as the recipient of the VanderZwaag Distinguished Alumnus Award. In 1989, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities named Ensor as one of the “Leaders of Service” in its Bicentennial Series publication. In 1993, Ensor was honored by NACWA as a “Good Guy” for his efforts in regards to gender equity.
Ensor and his wife Deirdre, who is a Registered Nurse, are the parents of Kaitlin, Brendan, Kiernan, and Colleen. They reside in Lanoka Harbor, NJ.