Captain Jim Settele, who is the chief of staff to outgoing University of Maine President Susan J. Hunter after serving a distinguished career in the U.S. Navy, is used to making difficult decisions.

He will be in a position to make some more over the next several months as the interim athletic director at UMaine.

Settele was named on Friday to replace outgoing director of athletics Karlton Creech, effective March 12.

Creech is leaving to become the vice chancellor for athletics, recreation and the Ritchie Center at the University of Denver.

Decisions regarding a national search for a permanent athletic director will be made by the institution’s next president, according to a UMaine news release.

Hunter is retiring this year and the pool for her replacement is down to four finalists.

Settele, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, had a 27-year career in the Navy as a naval flight officer. He was the commanding officer of the VAW-126 Seahawks, a Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron and served in the U.S. Naval Central Command in Saudi Arabia and the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Washington. D.C.

The 57-year-old Settele was a military assistant to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld from 2001-2003 and, in 2004, became director of operations, policy and strategy for the combined staff of Naval Forces Europe and the Sixth Fleet in Naples, Italy.

In 2006, he came to Maine as the commanding officer of the Naval ROTC units at UMaine, Maine Maritime Academy in Castine and Husson University in Bangor.

Hunter approached Settele about the job and he was happy to accept it.

“This is really an honor,” said Settele, a native of Peterborough, New Hampshire. “It was unexpected. It’s not something I thought my career would lead to. At the same time, President Hunter asked me if I would be interested in being the interim athletic director and, for a guy like me, it is an incredible opportunity.”

Settele, a former rugby player and wrestler, has been a faculty liaison to the UMaine football team and said he expects to be heavily involved in the athletic program for however long he is the interim AD.

“I don’t know how long I’ll be doing this but I’m not a status quo kind of guy. I’m not just going to warm a seat. If that was the idea, there’s no way I would have done it,” said Settele. “If decisions have to be made, I won’t shy away from them.

“I’ll make the call that is best for Black Bear athletics,” he added.

“Jim brings a wealth of leadership experience, institutional knowledge and organizational skills to the interim AD position,” said Hunter in a news release. “He is well regarded across campus for his work in athletics and academics. He got his start at UMaine as the NROTC commander, has been a member of our faculty and administration and worked closely with Karlton the past four years.

Settele has been around Black Bear athletics for the last 10 years.

“I love the student-athletes and I’ve worked with leaders from different sports teams,” said Settele.

He said Creech is leaving the program in a good situation.

“The women’s hockey team is hosting a Hockey East playoff series this weekend, the men’s hockey team is playing a really important series at Boston College and will be hosting a series or will have a bye the next weekend, and the women’s basketball team has a big game at the Cross Center on Sunday,” said Settele.

“There are a lot of good things happening but there is always room for improvement,” he added.

Settele, who has three daughters with his wife Alison including two UMaine graduates (Rebecca and Alex) as well as a Colby College senior (Kristen), said he expects to spend the next few weeks getting to know everyone in the athletic department as well as he can and to gain input from them.

“I haven’t had a chance yet to think about how I can best impact the department,” said Settele.