Karlton Creech is staying at the University of Maine for the foreseeable future.

The school announced on Friday that Creech, who has been UMaine’s athletic administrator since Feb. 10, 2014, has signed a four-year contract that will keep him in Orono until 2021.

The contract will take effect on Feb. 10.

“Karlton’s outstanding leadership of UMaine athletics has benefitted the university, the state and Black Bear fans near and far,” UMaine President Susan Hunter said in a statement. “He is a thought leader, teacher and mentor with a vision for Maine’s only Division I athletic program. He came to UMaine with a strong record of athletics leadership, management and fundraising, and has effectively used those talents in the last three years to advance UMaine Athletics.

“This academic year, Karlton launched a new strategic vision for UMaine Athletics. We look forward to this next chapter in the history of Black Bear Nation,” Hunter said.

Creech will continue to receive an annual salary of $183,855. However, private donations will provide annual supplements of $25,000 over the next four years to help bring the director of athletics salary within a nationally competitive range.

Previously, he was characterized as an “at will” employee and was hired under a letter of appointment, which meant that he could be let go by the university at any time. Signing a contract means the responsibilities on both sides are spelled out in greater detail.

Under his contract terms, if he leaves UMaine, Creech would be required to pay a buyout of $100,000 in years one and two, or $50,000 in year three, but nothing in the fourth year. If he is fired without cause, UMaine would have to pay Creech one year’s salary.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to continue leading Maine athletics,” Creech said in the release. “My time at Maine has been the best of my career. Thank you to President Hunter and University of Maine for entrusting me with this responsibility. I look forward to working with our great team of student-athletes, coaches and staff in the coming years as we pursue excellence.”

UMaine’s athletics programs have had success both inside and outside of the athletic arena in Creech’s time at the institution, including a 2016 America East conference title for the softball program and shared back-to-back regular-season championships and Women’s National Invitation Tournament appearances for women’s basketball.

A $1.5 million, three-year award from the Harold Alfond Foundation establishing the Alfond Fund in the University of Maine Foundation has helped established a centralized fundraising structure for UMaine athletics, along with continuing support of the football program, during his tenure.

An endowment to support men’s ice hockey also has been established, and UMaine has seen a 20 percent increase in annual giving to athletics, including more than $1.5 million raised in gifts and pledges for the hockey endowment.

Creech also has hired longtime UMaine football coach Jack Cosgrove and former softball coach Lynn Coutts as senior associate directors of athletics, while promoting Joe Harasymiak (football) and Mike Coutts (softball) to head coaching positions.

The native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, served as the University of North Carolina’s senior associate director of athletics from 2012 to 2014 before coming to UMaine.