The longest-tenured men’s basketball coach in University of Southern Maine history has retired.

Karl Henrikson, who has guided the Huskies for the last 18 seasons, will not return for the 2021-22 season, capping off more than 40 years of coaching at the high school, college and professional levels.

Karl Henrikson. Credit: Contributed

A national search for Henrikson’s replacement will begin soon with the goal of announcing USM’s next men’s basketball coach before the start of the new academic year, according to Al Bean, the school’s director of athletics.

“Karl has always seen the big picture,” Bean said. “He is an educator first, and has consistently worked at building and sustaining positive relationships with student-athletes as well as his colleagues and peers.”

Henrikson became the 15th men’s basketball head coach at the Gorham campus in 2003, marking a return to his basketball roots where as a four-year player for the Huskies under coach Joey Bouchard from 1974 to 1978 he helped the program improve from a 3-19 record during his freshman year to a 22-6 record and an NAIA national tournament berth as a senior captain during the 1977-78 season.

Henrikson was named the 2015-16 Little East Conference Coach of the Year after leading Southern Maine to a runner-up finish in the league —  its best campaign in 25 years.

In addition to his coaching duties at USM, Henrikson was the school’s director of summer sport camps and the athletic department’s coordinator for its academic minor in coaching education.  

“Karl’s coaching, teaching and steady guidance has been instrumental in the personal development of countless student-athletes throughout his career,” Bean said.

A midcoast Maine native, Henrikson was a star athlete at Georges Valley High School in Thomaston, from where he graduated in 1974.

He began his coaching career in 1978 at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland, then returned to the midcoast for a year at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle.

He left that post in 1981 and became a graduate assistant coach at Springfield (Massachusetts) College while pursuing a master’s degree in education.

Henrikson returned to Maine and coached for five seasons at Mount Desert Island High School in Bar Harbor, where he guided the Trojans to four tournament appearances between 1982 and 1987.

He then spent two years at Edward Little High School in Auburn where his teams compiled a 25-11 record and Henrikson was named Class A coach of the year in 1988.

Henrikson moved to the collegiate ranks in 1989 at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, where he led the Owls to a 122-79 record over nine seasons with six NAIA tournament berths, two coach of the year honors and a top-25 national ranking for the program in 1977.

Henrikson spent the 1998 season at the professional level as associate head coach with Namika Lahti in Lahti, Finland. That team featured former NCAA Division I and Finnish national team players, competing in both the elite Finnish league and against other European clubs.

He returned to Maine a year later to become head coach of the postgraduate basketball program at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield, where he coached 29 players who went on to compete at the NCAA Division I level.

Henrikson has been inducted into the Mid-Coast Athletic Hall of Fame and the UMPI Hall of Fame for his achievements as a player and coach.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...