TORONTO (AP) — Jeffrey Orridge has resigned as CFL commissioner, effective June 30.
Orridge's tenure was a short but tumultuous one. On Wednesday, Orridge and the CFL's board of governors mutually agreed to part ways. The surprising news comes just over two years after Orridge was hired amid much fanfare as the first African-American chief executive of a major North American sports league.
No official reason was given for the move. In a statement, Orridge said he and the board didn't agree on the league's future.
Orridge succeeded Mark Cohon, who spent eight years on the job.
The weight of expectation on Orridge's shoulders was immediate. On the day he was formally unveiled as commissioner, he had to deal with the Toronto Argonauts' muddled ownership issue. But interim commissioner Jim Lawson pretty much had negotiated the sale of the franchise in May 2015 to Larry Tanenbaum.
Orridge did come under fire for the CFL's fallout with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport that led to the league not having drug testing for more than a year. Ultimately a new policy reached with the players' association was implemented in the collective bargaining agreement.
Last November, Orridge drew widespread criticism when he denied the existence of a link between playing football and the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Orridge's comments came months after Jeff Miller, the NFL's top health and safety officer, acknowledged a link between football-related head trauma and brain disease, the first time a senior league official conceded football's connection to CTE.
Following Miller's admission, an American federal judge gave final approval to a $1 billion class-action lawsuit settlement between the NFL and thousands of former players. The CFL was named in a $200 million class-action lawsuit over concussions and brain trauma. But a judge dismissed former player Arland Bruce III's lawsuit against the league, Cohon, neuroscientist Dr. Charles Tator, the CFL Alumni Association and every team in the league.
The case is on appeal.
"In his time with the CFL, Jeffrey worked tirelessly to promote player health and safety, the integrity of the league on and off the field, and the values of diversity and inclusion," Lawson said. "Jeffrey played an important role in developing the league's strategic plan which has, in a short time, helped to elevate some key metrics that underpin the health of the league."