Nittany Lion Club Taps Ice Hockey Coach Joe Battista as Executive Director
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; March 27, 2006 - Joe Battista, who led the Penn State Icers to six national championships, has been named Executive Director of the Nittany Lion Club in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.
Battista brings proven leadership and remarkable success to his new post, compiling a record of 512-120-27 as head coach of the Icers for the past 19 years. The Icers captured ACHA national titles in 1990, '98, 2000, '01, '02 and '03 and were ACHA runners-up six times, including each of the past three seasons.
"I am moving into one of the best jobs I could ask for as a Penn State alumnus and former Lion Ambassador," said Battista, who will begin his new duties on April 10. "I've been fortunate to have been involved in Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics since 1978. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to build on the relationships I already have with so many loyal Penn State alumni and fans. I am excited to represent the University and to continue the traditions of the Nittany Lion Club. I bleed "Blue and White" and can't think of a better opportunity to serve my alma mater, our student-athletes and the Penn State faithful!"
The Nittany Lion Club, composed of Penn State alumni and friends of Intercollegiate Athletics, was established in 1961 to create greater interest in and financial support for Penn State varsity athletics. The more than 19,000 members of the Nittany Lion Club make possible grant-in-aid support for more than 500 student-athletes and provide operational support for Penn State's 29 varsity sport program, including 15 men's and 14 women's teams.
"Joe's passion, pursuit of excellence and productivity through his years here translate very well for what the Nittany Lion Club calls for right now," offered Director of Athletics Tim Curley. "Many know him simply as 'Coach', but he has a terrific business mind and a keen sense of how to motivate people."
"We're fortunate that someone so close to Penn State and so close to the workings and demands of athletics is stepping into this very important position," added Peter Weiler, Penn State's Associate Vice President of Development & Alumni Relations. "It's a perfect fit for Joe and a perfect fit for Penn State."
Battista attended Penn State as an undergraduate where he was an original member of the Lion Ambassadors, President of the Ice Hockey Club, Vice President of Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society, and a volunteer for The Second Mile. He was a standout defenseman for the Icers from 1978-82. Battista graduated from the Smeal College of Business with a degree in marketing in 1983.
Upon graduation, he was an assistant to the Marketing Director for the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins for three years before joining the coaching ranks at Kent State University and Culver Military Academy (Culver, Ind.) and as a USA Hockey Player Development and Coaching Certification instructor.
A Pittsburgh native, Battista was named head coach at Penn State for the 1987-88 season. In his 19 years, he compiled a winning percentage of .800 and captured six ACHA National Titles with no losing seasons. He was named ACHA Division 1 Coach of the Year twice (1999-2000 and 2001-02) and during the 2005-06 season won his 500th game with a 6-5 decision over Arizona State. A member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, Battista has become a highly recognized member of the University community, regularly sought after as a motivational speaker. His nickname, "JoeBa", is similar to one referring to another legendary Penn State coach.
Icer players excelled in the classroom under Battista, regularly earning a team grade point average of more than a 3.0 and boasting an ACHA-best 41 Academic All-Americans since 1995. Battista, along with Team Advisors Dr. Ray Lombra and Dr. Paul Cohen, helped launch the Icers Enhancement Endowment Fund in 1998 and have raised almost $1million to date.
Battista replaces Kay Kustanbauter, who retired in December after a 33-year tenure with the Nittany Lion Club, serving as Executive Director since 1989.