Kennesaw State To CHA?

Kennesaw State University would become the latest member of the CHA if the school’s president, Dr. Betty L. Siegel, approves the athletic department’s plan to add men’s ice hockey as a varsity sport and to apply for league membership.

Kennesaw State, located 20 miles north of Atlanta, would announce its intentions to add men’s hockey as a varsity sport this summer, pending the approval, and would look to join the CHA. Approval by Siegel could come as soon as this week.

“We’re definitely looking at it, but there’s been no decision made,” said Kennesaw athletic director Dr. Dave Waples. “It’s in the hands of our president at this time. There is a possibility.

“We would like the decision made, make an announcement this summer and begin play next year.”

If all the approvals go through this summer, the Owls would begin play as a varsity team in September of 2006 as a member of the CHA.

Kennesaw State is in its exploratory year as it elevates all programs from Division II to Division I. Currently Kennesaw fields nine varsity teams (baseball, softball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross-country, men’s golf, women’s tennis and women’s soccer), and is adding men’s and women’s indoor track and women’s golf this year.

In 10 years of NCAA play, the Owls have won NCAA Championships in baseball, men’s basketball, women’s soccer, and twice in softball.

The addition of Kennesaw would be the medicine that the CHA is looking for, as it has not found a member to replace Air Force for the 2006-07 season. With Air Force leaving the CHA after this coming season to join Atlantic Hockey, the CHA had created a number of incentives to try to entice a team to join the CHA. Needing a sixth team to maintain an automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament, the CHA would be almost certain to accept an applicant.

Kennesaw currently has a club hockey team that competes at the ACHA Division III level. Matt Hogan, a graduate of [nl]St. Thomas University in New Brunswick and former league MVP, is the head coach of the club team.

The move to Division I should no be a hardship in terms of infrastructure for Kennesaw. The club hockey team currently operates with a volunteer staff, but has advisors and medical staff.

Because of this, it attracted the interest of Waples and Kennesaw. Bill Morrison, the volunteer director of hockey operations for the club team was approached by Waples and CHA Commissioner Bob “R.H.” Peters. In turn, Morrison prepared an infrastructure report, talked with Waples, Peters and Alabama-Huntsville head coach Doug Ross regarding a possible move to Division I.

“You have everything in place in order to move this program into Division I,” said Morrison. “(Waples) took the information and presented the information to Dr. Siegel.

“He was excited that we already had the infrastructure and it was pretty turnkey. It sounds like it could be a very, very easy transition.”

Morrison said that if the team is elevated to varsity status that it would play its home games either before or after Atlanta Thrasher games at Phillips Arena, or at its current home rink, the Marietta Ice Center, which seats 2-3,000 people. Kennesaw also has a proposal on the table in which the school would build a sports complex, complete with two ice rinks that would seat 5,000.

“It puts Kennesaw on the map in a hurry,” said Morrison. “It’s something that we can do that can make Kennesaw a name.”