Jackson 5: U-Maine’s search for new A.D.

By Aaron Jackson,

With news today that Karlton Creech is leaving the University of Maine for the University of Denver comes the reality that the Black Bears will once again be on the search for an athletic director. They’ll form committees, perform a national search, and all the other typical things a university would do over the next few months after naming an interim. In the meantime, here are five factors that should be considered when looking at any new hires.


  1. They need to be a hockey expert: When UMaine hired Karlton Creech many wondered how he would do coming from power school known for their basketball (North Carolina). The next AD should be someone that knows how to handle and promote a college hockey team. Someone that realizes the important role hockey plays for the school, and gives them the budget they need to succeed. Hockey is not a cheap sport to run, but for Maine it’s one of the few sports, if not the only sport, that actually has a return on investment most years. Whoever comes in needs to know the ins and outs of how to run an athletic department where hockey is the most important sport.
  2. Connections to big schools: Don’t misconstrue that to say “comes from a big college program.” That’s not what I mean. I want someone that has networked well over the years, someone who’s name athletic departments at other schools recognize. This is something that can really help when Maine’s programs other than hockey are looking to play “guarantee games”, which are vital to their financial stability.
  3. Charisma: One of the biggest parts of the athletic director job is wining and dining, glad handing and making people believe they matter. That’s especially true for donors. It’s no secret that Maine’s athletic department as a whole is severely underfunded. One of the ways of trying to fix that is to get more donors on board, and maintain good relationships with the ones you do have. An athletic director that isn’t willing to shake hands with a smile on his or her face on a regular basis is one that will be a financial liability.
  4. Maine ties are a plus: Going off that last point, as Mainers we tend to be a little more forgiving and friendly to our own. For better or worse, the phrase “from away” often has negative connotations to it. Bringing in someone that has name value to Mainers, or that has been around the program before, could go a long way in getting the new AD off on the right foot. Plus, someone with Maine ties may be more willing to stick around longer than 3-5 years, which is the typical stint of the athletic director position at UMaine it feels like.
  5. Someone willing to make tough decisions: UMaine has developed a recent trend it seems of waiting too long to let coaches who just aren’t working go. There have been times when it seems like the fans and players both see the writing on the walls, yet the coach is there for another year before finally being let go. Oftentimes that means a team then has to hit absolute rock bottom before rebounding gradually over time. I think sometimes it’s better to rip off the band aid on the way down with hopes that the team can avoid hitting that bottom. The next AD will have tough decisions to make when it comes to Maine Hockey, Men’s Basketball, and possibly Women’s Basketball, as well as a variety of other positions around the team.

Aaron Jackson (@AaronRJackson on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.