The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

April 24, 2014

WCHA hires new women's commissioner

Aaron Kemp has been at Mercyhurst since 2004

Finding revenue sources. Growing the conference championship.

Those were the goals announced by new Western Collegiate Hockey Association men’s commissioner Bill Robertson two weeks ago, and they were the goals put forth by the league’s new women’s commissioner on Wednesday.

“I want to improve the league overall and women’s hockey in general,” said Aaron Kemp, who was introduced as the new commissioner during a league conference call.

Kemp, a senior associate athletic director at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., will succeed Sara Martin, who will retire from the WCHA on June 30.

The 38-year-old Kemp said he plans to work closely with Robertson and said he’d be moving to Minnesota and working out of the Twin Cities. Roberston said during the call that the the league hopes to announce a site for the league offices “shortly” and is still considering a number of locations.

“I think there is going to be a big collaborative relationship with the men’s and women’s leagues,” Kemp said.

The two sides face similar issues but are very different leagues.

With the recent realignment of the men’s conferences, only two schools have teams in both conferences: Minnesota State and Bemidji State.

The women’s league also includes Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio State, whose men’s teams are in the Big Ten, and North Dakota, Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State, whose men’s teams are in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

Minnesota State coach Eric Means said some of the issues the women’s WCHA faces include finding a permanent conference championship site — it’s been held in three different locations over the last four years — as well as the branding of the league.

“He seems ambitious,” said Means, who met Kemp during a coaches panel that was part of the interview process. “He’s got a good background. He’s a hockey guy. I think he’s going to do a good job.”

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