ORONO, Maine — University of Maine athletic director Karlton Creech’s belief in head football coach Jack Cosgrove and his attributes led him to make Cosgrove an offer to become the senior associate director of athletics.

So Cosgrove is beginning a new challenge instead of signing a contract to start his 24th fall directing the fortunes of the Black Bear football team.

Creech has a vision for the university’s athletic program and he said Cosgrove will be a valuable asset in realizing that goal.

The position, which originated during recent contract renewal talks, will pay Cosgrove $100,000 out of the UMaine President’s Discretionary Fund. That money is derived from private donations.

“We aren’t using the base budget, state appropriations or tuition money to fund this position,” said Creech. “Immediately, it will be funded by the president’s discretionary fund and what that does is gives us an opportunity to think about what are all the sources we can draw on to support the position.”

A “large part of what Jack will be doing is fundraising,” Creech said.

“Obviously, we’ll have opportunities there. We’ll look at external support to help him in his position. He has a lot of support throughout the community and the state of Maine. So I don’t have any concerns, necessarily, that we’ll be able to take care of this without detracting from any base budget at the university,” he said.

“Jack will help us craft and launch and execute the vision for Maine athletics. And certainly his presence in the community is powerful along with the relationships he has. He has a lot of warm calls he can make quickly that can help us financially,” Creech added.

Howard Segal, a professor of history at the university and a faculty senate member, said Cosgrove is deserving of the new position even in these difficult financial times at the institution.

“Whenever a new position is created, it obviously raises questions. Everybody would like to have a discretionary fund,” Segal said. “But Jack is a pillar of integrity. His character is first-rate. In the few dealings I’ve had with him, he has always totally supported academics. He has always been committed to making sure his players get a good education.”

Segal also noted that Cosgrove has done a “lot of things behind the scenes” for his players, especially those with underprivileged backgrounds.

“He deserves to be respected by everyone at the university,” Segal said. “He deserves to be treated well by the university because he has treated the university very well. I just hope he feels good about changing jobs.”

He does.

“I’m really excited about it. It was an easy decision to make,” said the 60-year-old Cosgrove. “I’m flattered Karlton would think the way he’s thinking about me. He sees me being someone that can help with the advancement of Division I athletics here through my experiences and my role here at Maine over the years.

“I’m anxious and excited to go to work with him,” he added.

Another aspect of Cosgrove’s job will be in an advisory role to the Maine coaching staff, and his peers praised him.

“Jack Cosgrove is a leader and a teacher,” Maine hockey coach Red Gendron said. “He has been exceptional in that respect his entire career. He’ll bring those exceptional teaching and leadership skills to our department. Football was his vehicle to teach and to lead and now his vehicle is the entire athletic department.”

Men’s basketball coach Bob Walsh said Cosgrove is “a titan when it comes to leadership. He was already having a big impact while also coaching the football team. He’ll be terrific in that role. It will be fantastic for us.”

Baseball coach Steve Trimper said he can’t count the number of times he strolled into Cosgrove’s office after a frustrating day.

“He’s my mentor,” Trimper said. “He has a tremendous amount of leadership he can give and he can make us all better. This is a great opportunity for Maine to grow and our athletic department to grow.”