Penn State hockey wouldn’t exist without him.
It will now exist without him.
Joe Battista, the godfather of Penn State Division I hockey, will be leaving the school on Nov. 8 to take a job with Terry Pegula’s company -- East Management Services -- as vice president of hockey related businesses.
“This dream has come true,” Battista said in a phone interview to the Daily Collegian. “It’s finally happened. Now that building is built….Time for me to go after some new dreams.”
Battista, who served as the associate athletic director of hockey and Pegula Ice Arena, will oversee the operation of the various hockey projects owned by Pegula, including the Buffalo Sabres and the AHL’s Rochester Americans.
Despite most of Pegula’s hockey operations being located in New York, Battista said he will still reside in State College with his wife.
The former Icers’ coach said the concept had been in the works for “quite some time” and was a possibility of him taking the job last season.
With Battista now leaving, the position will be vacant, and it is unclear when it will filled and by whom.
“I don’t think we have a Division I program without him so we have become greatly indebted to him,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said at Tuesday’s media availability. “I thank him for everything that he done to this point, and at the same time, I want to congratulate him. He’s moving on to work for a tremendous man and a tremendous organization.”
For years, Battista pushed for varsity status while coaching the Penn State club team to six national titles. He came close several times, but it wasn’t until Pegula donated more than $100 million, mainly for Penn State hockey’s newest home.
Along with pushing for Division I hockey at Penn State, Battista was one of the founders of the American Collegiate Hockey Association in 1991.
“We were shocked,” freshman David Goodwin said. “To be honest, I still don’t know everything about it. We know he’s leaving and will be missed for sure. Without him, I probably wouldn’t be here. I owe a lot to him.”
Battista has been connected to Penn State for more than 30 years, as he was once a player for the club team in the 70s. Originally from Pittsburgh, Battista holds a degree in marketing.
“He deserves the opportunity he is getting,” goalie Matt Skoff said.
“We are losing one of our family members today even though he’s moving on to bigger and better things. I think I speak for the whole team when I say thank you to Joe Battista. If it wasn’t for him, I certainly wouldn’t be here.”
Darian Somers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (814) 865-1828.
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