The University of Maine at Fort Kent's athletic director has been tapped to serve as the new assistant athletic administrator and head men's basketball coach at Vermont's Green Mountain College.
Jim Graffam, who has directed the athletic program at UMFK since the fall of 1999, will leave his post on November 3 to assume his new duties at Green Mountain, a 4-year, coeducational, private college of 700 students located in Poultney, Vermont.
In his four years at the helm of UMFK athletics, Graffam has brought the program to new heights, including successfully transitioning most of the school's teams into division II of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, first as members of the Maine Athletic Conference, and more recently through competition in the Sunrise Conference.
"Jim is an energetic and enthusiastic coach and athletic director. When he returned to UMFK as athletic director in 1999, the institution had just transferred from the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) to independent status in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Under his leadership the campus was admitted into a regional athletic conference and became active in what is now the Sunrise Conference of the NAIA. Through effective recruiting, excellent coaching and strong competition, UMFK's athletic teams increased their level of play enormously and have been consistent contenders in regional and national championships of that association," said UMFK President Richard Cost. "This is an extraordinary professional opportunity for Jim at Green Mountain and it is well earned. All of us at UMFK are sorry to lose him, but we wish him the very best in this exciting new career move."
In addition to serving as athletic director, Graffam had been named head coach for the UMFK Bengal men's basketball team last season and was set to coach again this year. The team begins their regular season Saturday, November 1, with a home game against the University College of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia.
Graffam was no stranger to the UMFK community when he returned to serve as athletic director in 1999. He had previously served as the head men's basketball coach at Fort Kent from 1996 through 1998, and he also held positions in residential life and admissions at the time.
During his tenure at UMFK, the athletic team received regional and national exposure, including coverage in the Boston Globe, Sports Illustrated, and on the CBS Evening News.
University teams competing in soccer, basketball and alpine skiing all received regional rankings at various times throughout Graffam's years.
Currently, UMFK men's and women's teams in soccer and basketball compete through the Sunrise Conference in Division II of the NAIA. The alpine ski team competes in Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Prior to joining UMFK in 1996, he served as athletic director and head men's basketball coach at the former Westbrook College in Portland. Westbrook is now merged with the University of New England.
During Graffam's tenure at Westbrook, he was selected as National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) District V basketball coach of the year in 1992-1993, and as State of Maine basketball coach of the year in 1992-1993 and 1993-1994.
His Westbrook team was successful in winning the Mayflower Conference Championship three consecutive years in 1993, 1994, and 1995.
With the announcement of Graffam's departure, UMFK President Richard Cost has named John Murphy, vice president for administration, as acting director of athletics until an interim director is appointed. Murphy's portfolio of responsibility at UMFK currently includes oversight of the athletic department.
Eric Werntgen, who currently serves as head coach for the women's soccer and basketball teams and as assistant athletic director, will step in as acting men's basketball coach, until a replacement for this season is named. Werntgen will continue to serve the women's teams.