Alfond Stadium in Orono is the home of University of Maine football team. Credit: Peter Buehner

University of Maine first-year athletic director Jude Killy’s plate is full as the school continues to receive a dramatic athletic facilities upgrade courtesy of the $90 million gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation.

So Killy is going to be getting some help.

Jason Grunkemeyer, a former Miami University (Ohio) basketball captain and assistant coach, has been named UMaine’s deputy athletic director. He will start on Aug. 8.

Jason Grunkemeyer is joining the University of Maine athletic department as its new deputy athletic director. Credit: Courtesy of Umaine Athletics

Killy had been the deputy director of athletics and chief of staff at Miami when Grunkemeyer was an assistant coach.

Grunkemeyer had been the athletic director and head boys basketball coach at Hilton Head Christian Academy in South Carolina after serving stints as an assistant men’s basketball coach at Saint Louis University and Ball State (Indiana), as well as Miami.

He has also been the athletic director at Talawanda High School in Oxford, Ohio.

“He will provide us with a different lens and a different set of ears,” Killy said.

“He will be someone to bounce ideas off. As a coach and an administrator, he can tell us what has worked and what hasn’t worked. He will be a real good sounding board.”

Killy clarified that Grunkemeyer will help run the day-to-day operations of the athletic department when Killy is not available.

“There are some other things I need to be spending more time on. He is also going to be taking a deep dive into some of the things I haven’t been able to get to,” Killy added. “We have a really good staff but they are busy with their day-to-day duties so it will be nice to bring somebody else in who can help with some of these other pieces, take a couple of things off my plate or shift some duties and responsibilities so I can pursue those things.”

Killy said he and his staff will benefit from Grunkemeyer’s input.

“One thing I really like about him is he and I have had some professional disagreements over the years but he is going to tell you what he thinks, it is going to be grounded based on data and facts and he isn’t going to shy away from hard conversations,” Killy said.

He said one of the first things on Grunkemeyer’s plate will be to get to know the people and the facilities, new and the existing ones. He will also be working with the strength and conditioning and athletic training staffs.

“I want to put him in the middle of that in order to let him assess our processes,” Killy said.

Grunkemeyer, a Cincinnati, Ohio, native who has three children with his wife, Angie, will serve as a mentor to coaches and will be particularly involved with the men’s and women’s basketball programs, according to Killy.

Grunkemeyer played on a Miami University team that reached the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament in 1999 and seven of the teams he coached in college earned postseason berths.

He was chosen the top assistant coach in the Mid-American Conference by his peers when he was at Ball State in 2020.

Killy said UMaine women’s head basketball coach Amy Vachon has done a great job and men’s basketball coach Chris Markwood, who just finished his first season, has his program “ascending.”

“Jason can supply support to help those programs as well,” Killy said.

Grunkemeyer will also be involved in the institution’s strategic planning.

”We have goals and objectives in place and we have to be able to effectively manage that and set our course not just for the next year but for the next five to seven years,” Killy said.

In a press release, Grunkemeyer called it an “incredible opportunity” and thanked Killy and UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy for hiring him.

“I love to be a part of supporting the success of others and my focus will be to utilize my experiences as an athlete, coach and administrator to help our students, coaches and staff reach their potential in all areas,” Grunkeyemer said in the release.