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Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Karlton Creech, who signed a four-year contract extension to remain at the University of Maine as its director of athletics 13 months ago, has decided to head west.
Creech will become the University of Denver's vice chancellor for athletics, recreation and Ritchie Center operations beginning on May 1, according to a University of Denver news release.
He will replace Peg Bradley-Doppes, who is retiring after 13 years.
Creech and UMaine president Susan J. Hunter will meet on Wednesday to discuss details regarding his contract and his time line at UMaine and the appointment of an interim AD, according to Margaret Nagle, UMaine's senior director of public relations and operations in the division of marketing and communications.
Creech said "I am eager to continue the tradition of athletic and academic excellence at the University of Denver," at a Monday morning news conference in Denver.
"Athletics is personal. My wife, Staci, went to school on an athletic scholarship so I know the importance of our student-athletes excelling in the classroom and the community," he added.
Denver Chancellor Rebecca Chopp said in a news release that Creech is a "perfect fit for our diverse, ambitious and innovative community with his focus on students and celebrating achievement.
"Known as a bridge builder on and off campus, Karlton will help us all achieve our dreams and aspirations," she added.
Creech will oversee 17 Division I teams at Denver as well as the recreation program which encompasses intramural sports, club sports and the Coors Fitness Center.
The University of Denver already has an athletic director in Ron Grahame, who had been a long-time administrator at the school before being named the AD last summer.
Former University of Maine All-American and Hobey Baker Award finalist Jim Montgomery is the hockey coach at Denver and led the Pioneers to the NCAA Division I title last season.
Montgomery said he was impressed with Creech when he met him in September at the UMaine Sports Hall of Fame induction. The 1992-93 UMaine national championship hockey team captained by Montgomery was among the inductees. Montgomery, the school's all-time leading scorer, had been previously inducted individually.
He also chatted with him before Monday's news conference.
"He seems like a no-ego kind of guy. He told me he didn't want to lead the parade, he just wanted to make sure it was happening," said Montgomery. "He will be perfect for our culture here. I'm looking forward to working with him."
Montgomery also indicated that Creech said he wanted to "listen and get to know us" and that he was quick to praise Bradley-Doppes and Grahame.
"And those two have done a fantastic job, that's why our athletic program has done so well the past 10 to 15 years."
Creech replaced Steve Abbott as the AD at the University of Maine in February, 2014.
During his time at UMaine, Creech helped secure a $1.5 million, three-year award from the Harold Alfond Foundation which established the Alfond Fund in the UMaine Foundation that centralized a fundraising structure for UMaine athletics. It also continued support for the football program.
There was also a 20 percent increase in annual giving to athletics including more than $1.5 million for an endowed fund to support the men's hockey program. And the number of student-athletes being recognized for academic achievement (grade-point average of 3.0 or higher) increased every year.
Creech came from the University of North Carolina, where he was the school's senior associate director of athletics. He served as the chief of staff and oversaw the department's capital projects, human resources and facilities.
The Chapel Hill, North Carolina, native and North Carolina State University graduate, was the associate executive director for UNC's Educational Foundation Inc. from 2004-2012.
In that capacity, he managed capital projects, the Annual Fund, marketing, fundraising and ticket sales programs as well as donor stewardship and development.
"He will be missed," said UMaine fifth-year men's hockey coach Red Gendron. "I am grateful for all he did to help us. I'm delighted he has this new opportunity."
Joe Harasymiak, who just concluded his second season as the head football coach at UMaine after spending five years as an assistant at UMaine, said he "couldn't have asked for a better athletic director to work for in my first time as a head coach.
"We have a great relationship and I hope to continue to stay in contact with him. He left us in a good position moving forward," added Harasymiak. "A lot of our success is because of him. He has been extremely supportive of all the coaches. He was always there for me to bounce ideas off. He had confidence in me and gave me confidence."
Scott Atherley, who has been the women's soccer coach for 19 years after serving as the men's soccer coach for seven years, said Creech has had a "very positive and favorable impact on our department.
"Certainly, his leadership style was well-suited for the time and place he was at in his journey at UMaine," said Atherley. "He took his time to implement changes. He got a feel for the climate first.
"The thing I really appreciate about him is he has a really positive disposition and outlook and that will carry over to his next job at Denver. He will make a favorable impact on them in many of the same ways he impacted out successes at UMaine," Atherley said.
Denver is a private institution while UMaine is a state school.
Creech elevated Lynn Coutts from head softball coach to a senior associate director of athletics in 2015 and Coutts said Creech was a "great leader and mentor for me.
"I appreciate all he has done for me and for the department and I wish him well at Denver," said Coutts. "I'm very happy for him and for where we are now and how he left our department. We've had a lot of success and we will continue to do the same."
She has interest in the position.
"I'll do what needs to be done here. I love this place," said Coutts.
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