Ken Ralph named UMaine Director of Athletics

Ken RalphKen Ralph, Director of Athletics at Colorado College, has accepted the position of Director of Athletics at the University of Maine, effective Sept. 1.

Dr. Robert Dana, Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, led the national search and chaired the 12-member search committee. The university was assisted by Turnkey Search and its Managing Director Gene DeFillipo, a leading figure in intercollegiate athletics with more than four decades of experience heading Division I programs. Chris Lindstrom, UMaine Vice President for Human Resources, and Brian Drisko, Human Resources Partner for Athletics, were key contributors to the process.

Ralph, a native of Salem, New Hampshire, has spent the past 11 years as the Director of Athletics at Colorado College. At CC, he oversees a department of 51 professionals and a $10 million budget. Colorado College’s Division I programs compete in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (hockey), the Mountain West Conference (women’s soccer), while several of the school’s Division III teams play in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.  

During the 2017–18 season, CC teams experienced significant success. The volleyball team earned its first-ever national No. 1 ranking, the men’s lacrosse team reached its sixth straight NCAA tournament, and the women’s lacrosse program reached the NCAA Tournament Round of 16 for the second straight year.  In all, the team sports at CC (basketball, lacrosse, hockey, soccer, volleyball) posted an overall record of 115-70-14 during the 2017–18 season. Success followed into the classroom as varsity athletes posted a cumulative GPA in excess of 3.3 for the academic year.

Prior to Colorado College, Ralph served as the Director of Athletics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) from 2002–07. There, Ralph helmed a department with 23 sports, more than 600 varsity athletes and Division I hockey teams in the ECAC Hockey Conference. Prior to moving into administration full-time, Ralph coached swimming at the college level for 12 seasons.

Ralph has earned a reputation as a leader in the areas of concept, design and fundraising for athletic facilities. Among his projects are the newly announced $39 million Robson Arena project, and the $27 million refurbishment and expansion of the El Pomar Sports Center, both at Colorado College, and the initial design, planning and fundraising for the $92 million East Campus Athletic Village at RPI.  

During his tenure, Colorado College has received a dozen gifts of at least $1 million each in support of athletics, with a top gift of $9 million for the Robson Arena project. Beyond capital projects, Colorado College has seen sponsorship dollars rise to record levels. The college also has secured deals with Nike and Bauer to outfit its teams.

“Ken has demonstrated leadership in helping ensure student-athletes’ success in the classroom and in competition, as well as experience in compliance, strategic planning, fundraising and community outreach,” says UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy.  “We look forward to an exciting new chapter building on our outstanding foundation in Black Bear Athletics, and welcome Ken and his wife Mary to the UMaine community.”

Ken Ralph is “a perfect example of an athletic director who understands the complex nature of Division I athletics in higher education,” Dana says.

“He is an expert in internal and external operations. He fully understands fundraising and marketing and compliance and attention to governance structures are highly held beliefs. Ken is a selfless believer in his students, coaches and staff, and he has an impeccable ethical orientation.

“He fully understands — and believes in — the mission of the University of Maine, the importance of this institution, and the importance of our athletics program to people all across Maine and the region. Ken is community focused, and his warmth and sense of humor will immediately connect him to the people of this great state. His commitment to this program will cement that connection for years to come,” Dana says.

“I am honored to join Dr. Ferrini-Mundy’s leadership team at the University of Maine,” says Ralph. “I’d like to thank Dr. Dana and the entire search committee for their support and encouragement throughout the process. I firmly believe in the strength of the Maine Athletics brand, and I am looking forward to working with the students, faculty and staff at the university as we take an already vibrant program to the next level.”

Ralph earned his undergraduate degree in political science at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, where he was recognized as an All-American in swimming in 1989 and 1990. He earned a master’s degree in sports management studies from California University of Pennsylvania.

Ralph will take the reins of the department from Capt. Jim Settele, who has served as the interim AD since March 12.  

“Jim’s presence in the AD’s chair during this time of transition provided critically important leadership and momentum. He has advanced principles of excellence for all the sports teams, and he has continued important work with our donors and alumni. His work allowed us to approach the search with deliberation and all due speed, but we did not rush as the Athletics Department was in good hands,” Dana says.  

Upon conclusion of his term as interim AD, Settele will return to his position as executive director of UMaine’s School of Policy and International Affairs.

Contact: Tyson McHatten, 207.581.3596; 207.992.7746