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Penn Hills native Battista to leave Penn State athletic department

| Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, 7:21 p.m.

Some 35 years after he first arrived on Penn State's campus, Joe Battista announced his retirement from the university Tuesday.

Battista, a Penn Hills native, will leave the athletic department effective Nov. 8 to accept a position with Pegula's East Management Services. Three days later, Battista will start his new job of Vice President of Hockey Related Businesses.

Battista played ice hockey for Penn State's club team and later coached the “Icers” for 19 seasons before joining the athletic administration in 2006. Since helping to facilitate a nine-figure donation from Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula in 2010 – the largest donation in the university's history — Battista had been tasked with overseeing the construction of the Pegula Ice Arena.

When the $90 million building opened last month, it was the consummation of decades of effort to bring NCAA Division I hockey to Penn State. No individual was more at the forefront of that initiative through the years than Battista.

“Starting as a freshman hockey player in 1978, my 35-year journey has culminated with the building of the new ice arena and the launching of two varsity hockey programs,” Battista said in a statement. “While this dream has come true, it is now time for me to set new goals and dream new dreams.”

In his new role, Battista will be responsible for hockey development and strategic initiatives across the spectrum of the Pegula's hockey organizations. During the design and construction of the hockey arena, Battista worked closely with Pegula, a Penn State alumnus who became a billionaire in the natural gas industry.

Known as “JoeBa” on the Penn State campus in a playful take off late football coach Joe Paterno's “JoePa” nickname, Battista won six club national titles and more than 500 games as hockey coach.

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