|Matt Kelchner helped Christopher Newport football make a name for itself immediately upon its founding.
CNU athletics photo
Christopher Newport football coach Matt Kelchner has announced the upcoming football season will be his final leading the Captains. Kelchner, who has led the program since its inception in 2001, will continue as an associate director of athletics.
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“I was fortunate to be given the task to lead this new football program,” said Kelchner. “Sixteen years later, I am proud of what our remarkable students, staff, colleagues and fans have accomplished in making this program so successful. I am indebted to Christopher Newport University for entrusting me with the leadership of our football team, but I have given a great deal of thought to this decision and it is the right time for me to make this transition in my life.”
Kelchner, who made the announcement to his players at their season-opening meeting Wednesday night, has recorded an overall record of 102-57 for a winning percentage of .642. His teams have also gone 82-22 in conference play (.788), and advanced to the NCAA playoffs ten times in 15 seasons.
“Matt came to me in February and said that the time had come for him to move on after this last year of coaching, his 16th year as our head coach,” Christopher Newport president Paul Trible said. “Coach Kelchner has led CNU to over 100 victories and I know that this year there will be many more victories to celebrate.
“Matt Kelchner and CNU football have contributed immensely to the life, energy, spirit and success of this young and vibrant university and we will be forever grateful,” continued Trible.
Kelchner, a 1982 graduate of Susquehanna, was named CNU’s head coach on May 9, 2000, following 16 seasons as an assistant coach at William & Mary. Christopher Newport opened play on Sept. 1, 2001, and the Captains were competitive from the very beginning. CNU became the first startup program at any level to make the playoffs in its first year.
With Kelchner leading the way, Christopher Newport won conference championships in its first four years of existence. Last year, CNU won its 100th game in program history, becoming the fourth-fastest program to reach that plateau.
“Working with student-athletes each day is the most remarkable part of coaching,” Kelchner said. “Over the past 15 seasons, this program has accomplished a great deal and has been built by young men that embrace a commitment to their academic success, the success of their community and the success of their team. Our student-athletes have built a tradition that will last long beyond any of us and it is my privilege to see them grow in their time on our campus.”
Kelchner was named the conference Coach of the Year in the Dixie/USA South Athletic Conference seven times (2001, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2014).
“Matt Kelchner has made a remarkable impact on the Christopher Newport athletic program,” athletic director Kyle McMullin said. “I am certain that coach will have his complete attention on the season ahead and competing for a New Jersey Athletic Conference championship. We will turn our attention to searching for a new coach after this season is complete and at that time, I will be thrilled that we can employ his vast knowledge and experience to the total spectrum of our department.”
A national search will begin immediately upon the conclusion of the season.
Christopher Newport opens the 2016 season on Saturday, Sept. 3, vs. Kean at POMOCO Stadium. Game time is set for 1:00 p.m.