BRYN ATHYN, Pa. – Matt Kennedy, the architect of the Bryn Athyn College athletics department, will step away from his role as the Director of Athletics to become the College's Vice President of Operations and Business Development effective March 1, 2018. Associate Director of Athletics Abraham Joseph will serve as Interim AD until a search to fill the role is conducted later this year.
"This is an exciting time on our campus and I look forward to serving Bryn Athyn College in a different capacity," stated Kennedy. "I am going to miss the daily interactions with our athletics staff. We have accomplished a lot over the past eight years and I am truly grateful for all of the work this team put into making quality programs for student-athletes."
Since coming to Bryn Athyn from Neumann University in July 2010, Kennedy transformed an athletics department consisting of four club teams into an NCAA Division III program with 14 sports and over 150 student-athletes.
Under Kennedy's leadership and guidance, Bryn Athyn started the four-year membership process to join NCAA Division III in 2014. After the second year, the College was granted a waiver by the NCAA Membership Committee to consolidate years three and four of the process expediting things by one year. Bryn Athyn completed its probationary period and was granted full membership into NCAA Division III on July 1, 2017.
Kennedy and the College developed a strategic initiative that allowed the athletics department to achieve its rapid growth in terms of sports offerings. Under the College's strategic initiative, women's volleyball and men's soccer, which started as club programs, became Bryn Athyn's first varsity sports in 2011. During the 2012-13 academic year, the College added men's and women's tennis and elevated men's lacrosse to the varsity level. Bryn Athyn experienced the most growth in the 2013-14 academic year with the additions of men's and women's cross country, men's and women's basketball, and women's lacrosse. Men's golf joined the fold with its inclusion to the College's athletic offerings in 2015. Women's soccer had its first season of competition in 2016. Bryn Athyn reached 14 varsity sports in the 2017-18 with the addition of women's field hockey and the elevation of men's ice hockey from club to varsity.
The athletics department took a big step forward in the 2013-14 academic year when Bryn Athyn accepted an invitation to join the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC). Bryn Athyn enjoyed its most successful season in the NEAC in 2016-17 with a program-record three teams—men's basketball, women's basketball, and men's lacrosse—qualifying for their respective NEAC championship tournament. On Aug. 20, 2017, Kennedy and Bryn Athyn announced that they would leave the NEAC after the conclusion of the 2017-18 academic year and join the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) starting on July 1, 2018.
In addition to securing Bryn Athyn's spot within the NCAA landscape, Kennedy has drastically improved the College's athletic facilities—most notably the construction of General Ronald K. Nelson Field. The donor-funded $1.3 million facility consists of FieldTurf's high-performing Elite Monofilament system and a lighting system. Kennedy oversaw the three-month construction process, which broke ground in October 2016 and was completed in December 2016. Nelson Field—the home of Bryn Athyn men's and women's soccer, men's and women's lacrosse, and field hockey—saw its first game action on March 11, 2017 when men's lacrosse hosted Alfred State.
Bryn Athyn has also enjoyed great success in the classroom, posting a 3.02 cumulative grade-point average for the 2016-17 academic year. It was the highest GPA for the department in the last six years. The department has been represented by 76 student-athletes on the NEAC Scholar-Athlete list over the last three years, including a school-record 27 in 2016-17, for having a cumulative GPA of 3.4 or higher.
Kennedy—who will wrap up a 16-year stint in collegiate athletics—came to Bryn Athyn after nine years at Neumann. He started out as an assistant coach for the men's ice hockey program from 2000 until 2002. In 2003, Kennedy was selected as the head coach of Neumann's women's ice hockey team, where he would post a 69-67-8 record and lead the Knights to six ECAC West Tournament appearances. Kennedy went 22-17-3 during his first two seasons at the helm. After leaving Neumann for an assistant coaching position at Division I Quinnipiac, Kennedy returned to his alma mater four more years, going 47-50-5.
For his last four years at Neumann, Kennedy became an assistant athletic director in addition to his coaching duties. He was responsible for major projects and initiatives, in including the University's $29 million athletic center and turf field that opening in the fall of 2009.
Kennedy has a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in strategic leadership from Neumann University.
Stepping into the interim AD role will be Joseph, who has been with Kennedy since the beginning in the fall of 2010.
"Abe is one of the rising stars in Division III athletics," said Kennedy. "He is widely respected for his relentless work ethic and unwavering commitment to Bryn Athyn College."
In addition to helping build the athletics program alongside Kennedy, Joseph served as the College's first sports information director and played an integral role in the branding of the department. Joseph created and maintained the athletics website, introduced the athletics logo, and helped strategize the addition of new sports. He also coached the men's and women's tennis teams since their inception in 2012-13. As an administrator, Joseph ran the day-to-day operations of the department.
"Abe played a major role in what Bryn Athyn athletics is today. He will bring a new vision to his role as the interim AD and will work hard to make Bryn Athyn athletics an even better experience for our students," remarked Kennedy.
Prior to his arrival at Bryn Athyn, Joseph was the assistant to the sports information director at Neumann University. He assisted in the game day operations for 19 varsity sports, including the 2009 NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Division III National Championship team.
Joseph is a graduate of Neumann University with a bachelor's degree in business administration. A three-year varsity tennis player for the Knights, Joseph helped lead the team to a Pennsylvania Athletic Conference title in 2008, a CSAC championship in 2009, and two NCAA Tournament appearances.
He is currently pursuing his M.B.A. at Wayne State University in Nebraska.