Leading the efforts to create NCHC pod, organize NCAA tournament, Omaha’s Kemp selected winner of 2021 NCHC Commissioner’s Award

Mike Kemp watches NCHC action from the pod at Baxter Arena to kick off the 2020-21 season (photo: Mark Kuhlmann),

For his service to the NCHC and NCAA men’s hockey during a difficult 2020-21 season, Omaha senior associate athletic director Mike Kemp has been honored with the 2021 NCHC Commissioner’s Award.

During a turbulent and trying 2020-21 season, Kemp spearheaded two of the most important events for the NCHC and NCAA this season in leading the organizing efforts for both the NCHC pod and 2021 NCAA tournament.

“Simply put, without the service and dedication by Mike Kemp, the success of the 2020-21 NCHC season and NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament does not happen,” NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton said in a statement. “Our conference is incredibly grateful for Mike’s efforts to help the membership start the NCHC season successfully within the pod. The overall men’s college hockey community is also very thankful for his leadership in selecting the field in a very non-traditional manner and running a successful tournament.”

Along with his duties at Omaha and Baxter Arena, Kemp completed his first year as chair of the Division I Men’s NCAA Ice Hockey Championship Committee in 2020-21.

“During a challenging year for all of us in collegiate athletics, I cannot think of anyone more deserving of the NCHC Commissioner’s Award than Coach Kemp,” said Omaha vice chancellor for Athletics Trev Alberts. “The NCHC pod to start the season and the NCAA hockey tournament were executed flawlessly and safely thanks to the dedicated focus and passion of Mike Kemp.”

Kemp has been a part of the Mavericks’ family for nearly 25 years, serving in multiple roles. He has served in his current role as Omaha senior associate AD for events and facilities since being promoted in March of 2019. Prior to that, he was an associate athletic director at UNO for 12 years, moving into that role in 2009 after completing a 12-year run as the program’s first head hockey coach. A member of the Omaha Hockey Hall of Fame and Omaha Sports Hall of Fame, Kemp helped start the Omaha hockey program in 1997, joining the staff in 1996, and now oversees UNO’s hockey program and Baxter Arena in his current position.

“I am truly humbled and grateful to receive this award. To me, recognition by your peers is the ultimate acknowledgement of a person’s achievements, so I am especially honored by this recognition of my work,” Kemp said. “I have been working full-time in college athletics for 45 years, and hockey has been my passion since I started coaching college club hockey at the age of 23, so to have this group express appreciation for my efforts on behalf of the game this past year is incredibly special.”

The NCHC Commissioner’s Award does not have to be presented annually. The recipient may be any person associated with the NCHC and may be a current or former athletics administrator, faculty athletics representative, coach, Conference office staff member or an individual not associated directly with any institution or the conference office.

The last time the award was presented was in 2019 when former Colorado College director of athletics Ken Ralph earned the accolades.