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Vivian's heart has Bowling Green giving thanks

by Bob Snow
In the hockey-arena renovation and management business, they call him "Dr. Ice." But Jack Vivian's big heart pumps warm Bowling Green brown-and-orange 24/7.

Backed up with a generous flow of green. Vivian's lifetime of passion and involvement with the Falcons are two of the major reasons why recent discussions to discontinue hockey at Bowling Green State University have been likely put to bed for many seasons to come.

"I'm called 'Dr. Ice' in the ice arena business," Vivian told from his Ohio home on the weekend before Thanksgiving, "because my doctoral dissertation was a comparison of arena managers in the U.S. to Canada. It's the only data in the world on that topic."

The 68-year-young Vivian has a lifetime of unique data, having achieved a Bachelor's degree from Adrian College, and a Master's and Doctorate from Bowling Green [1990]. He was also general manager of the former WHA Cleveland Crusaders from 1973-76 and coached the club in 1974. In 1976, Vivian joined the New York Islanders and served as a scout when the Islanders won four straight Stanley Cups.

"I spent 17 years with the Islanders and enjoyed four Stanley Cups -- learned a lot from (Islanders GM) Bill Torrey," said Vivian who has also been inducted into the Adrian College and Bowling Green Halls of Fame.

Vivian's specialty in the world of academia and business is how to renovate and make hockey arenas more efficient and profitable. That came from years of study and experience by founding the JRV Management Company and JRV Consulting Company.

"We took over a lot of struggling and failing facilities and turned them around," he said proudly, "Been involved with about 150 buildings overall."

His passion, however, is on the ice. He is the Falcons' first head coach as a club team, and one of the founding fathers and commissioners of the CCHA in that transition during late '60's and early '70's.

The self-made Vivian was not brought up on a silver spoon.

"I quit school at the end of Grade 12 and went to Canada to cut logs in the bush country," said Vivian. "Lived in a 10x12 shack with it minus-43 degrees north of International Falls, Minn. in Dryden, Ontario. They call it 'God's country,' but only God wants to live there. I figured out pretty quickly that was a tough way to make a living. My dad was a teacher and he took me back to school in college.

"I went to Adrian College in Michigan. Then left to play at Vermont in '62 on a club team – have 42 stitches over my eye to prove it. Then went back to Adrian and played on the Montreal Allouettes football team. I was then recruited to Bowling Green to be a graduate assistant and coach while finishing a Master's degree and help open the (hockey) building in February of 1967."

Two Fridays ago, before Bowling Green's win over Alaska on Nov. 13, Vivian opened the "Bring Back the Glory" fund-raising campaign with a $250,000 donation to assure that BGSU Arena enters its fifth decade with a major facelift for the program that won the longest title game in NCAA history, a 4-OT 5-4 win over Minn.-Duluth in 1984.

Bowling Green -- with notable alums such as Gary Galley, Rob Blake and Dan Bylsma -- has not been back to post-season play since 1990. Vivian's leadership and generosity will help assure that opportunity – and many others.

"Recently, the option to drop hockey came up to save money and keep Division I status for most of the other sports," Vivian said. "When I heard about it, I kept my powder dry and didn't do anything about it. It finally, came out and the ... hit the fan. Everybody from all over the country sent out over 4,000 emails.

"President Carol Cartwright called me to serve on a committee that had members who wanted to bulldoze the arena and end hockey. Then she asked I chair it. Eyeball to eyeball, I said, 'Dr. Cartwright, don't put me in this position if you plan on dropping hockey. That won't happen as long as I'm alive. I'll fight that to my grave.' She said, 'Bring me a plan.'

"We needed a large gift to get it off the ground. By an act of God, our state rep and senator had a grant turned back at about 1.5 million. One happened to be a Bowling Green hockey guy.

"The goal is to raise nine million dollars -- four million from state and university funds and five from private funding along with the grant. We had about four million before the pledge last Saturday night toward the five million.

"Then we want four million more to endow [hockey] scholarships; about 500,000 each – this is a five-year campaign. It's a total of 13 million for the arena and hockey program; and at least eight scholarships to help the athletic department. You can't run with the big boys without scholarships."

Vivan was also a significant benefactor a decade back.

"My wife Elaine and I endowed the first hockey scholarship for a Ohio boy; I wanted that Ohio mix to keep going," Vivian said. "We donated 125,000 dollars about 1998."

"Jack Vivian established hockey at BGSU and has been a tremendous supporter over the years," said Cartwright in a university release. "I don't think anyone is surprised that he was the first to step forward with a gift for the campaign. We greatly appreciate his leadership and passion for the program."

"With Jack's backing," said Marcia Sloan Latta, interim vice president for University advancement, "I think we'll see an outpouring of support from the hockey community."

Scott Hamilton, the Bowling Green native and Olympic gold medalist in figure skating, is serving as honorary chair of the campaign. Galley and Mike Pikul, members of BGSU's 1984 National Championship team, have reunited to co-chair the campaign.

"I didn't want to be the old coach in the faculty lounge," said Vivian about staying involved with the hockey program, while continuing to teach courses in sports management, marketing, and facilities management.

"I took a less than a six-figure salary the past many years and saved it the old-fashioned way. Being able to pay back BG for giving a brash 26-year-old Canadian a chance to get a Master's degree and Ph.D. and have two children born there is pretty special for Elaine and I.
"My heart's at Bowling Green."

Who's on first -- Entering the Thanksgiving holiday break, and ending the second month of the season, only one league has a runaway leader. RIT has a one-point lead over Air Force in Atlantic Hockey. ... Miami has a two-point lead over Michigan State in the CCHA. ... Bemidji State is cruising the CHA with a crushing nine-point bulge over Robert Morris. ... In the ECACHL, Quinnipiac holds a three-point advantage over Colgate. ... New Hampshire and Boston College are tied for first in Hockey East with Lowell a point behind. ...The WCHA has a logjam at the top among Colorado College, Denver and Minnesota-Duluth with North Dakota and Wisconsin two points back. 

On Campus Clips -- Bowling Green's 4-2 victory at Michigan last Friday was the second consecutive win at Yost Ice Arena for the Falcons and marked just the third time in program history that they have won consecutive road games against U-M. ... The Union College men's ice hockey team gave back to the local community this past Monday by serving Thanksgiving dinner at the Schenectady YMCA. The team's participation marks the fifth-consecutive year serving food and beverages at the dinner tables. ... Holiday tournaments this weekend on Friday and Saturday include Miami, Bemidji, Ohio State and host North Dakota in Grand Forks for the Holiday Classic; Union, Lake Superior, Bentley and host Rennselaer in the RPI Holiday Tournament in Troy, NY; and the College Hockey Showcase among Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan State and host Michigan in Ann Arbor. ... Other key games this week include Princeton at Quinnipiac, Maine at Mass.-Lowell, New Hampshire at Merrimack, and BU at Cornell.

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