Longtime athletic director leaving UMFK for Unity College
FORT KENT, Maine — University of Maine at Fort Kent Director of Athletics and men’s soccer coach Bill Ashby is stepping down from his post immediately and taking a new position at Unity College.
Ashby, who has coached 33 years at the collegiate level, will become the director of international admissions and transfers at Unity College. He will end a dominant reign for the Bengals as the men’s soccer coach and athletic director after guiding all five athletic programs to their respective 2017-18 national tournaments.
Ashby took over as director of athletics and men’s soccer coach in the summer of 2006 and has been the most successful coach in Maine collegiate soccer history. He has grown the Bengals athletic department to well over 100 student athletes.
The coach celebrated his 400th career victory in 2016, when the Bengals men defeated the University of Maine at Machias — the school where he began his career.
“It has been my honor to have represented the University of Maine Fort Kent and the community of Fort Kent as its sports ambassador,” Ashby said. “The success of UMFK student/athletes and teams is astounding and I am proud to have been a part of such great feats of academic and athletic success.”
He credited colleagues and athletes for their contributions to UMFK’s successes.
“I was blessed with a professional staff of coaches, exceptional coaches and great people, always willing to outwork, out recruit, and out coach all others,” Ashby said.
“As men’s soccer coach, I had the great fortune to lead and coach some of the greatest college players and teams in NAIA, USCAA and Maine’s soccer history. I could not have asked for more as a coach or AD,” he added.
Ashby took over the University of Maine at Machias program in 1984 and then moved on to Husson College, where he won his first Conference Coach of the Year Award. At Maine Maritime Academy, he won 64 games in six seasons. He then spent four years each at the University of Mary in North Dakota and Brescia University in Kentucky, winning 58 and 50 games, respectively. At Brescia he was both men’s and women’s coach, and won 20 games with his women’s squad over the two years he was coaching.
During those eight seasons, he attained NAIA Regional Coach of the Year twice, NAIA Sectional Coach of the Year twice, KIAC Conference Coach of the Year three times was a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Regional Coach of the Year.
At Fort Kent, Ashby recorded a staggering 224-17-6 (91.9 percent) as head men’s soccer coach, with 10 of those losses coming at either the NAIA or USCAA national tournament. His teams won the USCAA National Championship in 2010, 2015, and 2016. His 2016 team went a perfect 23-0-0, Ashby’s first and only perfect season as head coach.
While at UMFK, Ashby earned 11 Coach of the Year titles. His UMFK teams have never lost more than three matches in a single season and have won 20 or more on six separate occasions. In 2015, he was recognized by his peers and association as USCAA National Coach of the Year. He coached 36 All-Americans and Ben Kluvers, who was a three-time USCAA National Player of the Year.
His total collegiate win-loss record stands at 451-193-25. His 400 wins are in a league with just 37 other coaches, active or retired in United States Collegiate soccer history. He has the school record for soccer coaching wins at Maine Maritime Academy, Brescia University, University of Mary, and UMFK.
As athletic director, UMFK officials said, Ashby has transformed the entire department. During his tenure, UMFK teams have won 10 national championships and seen 75-plus student-athletes recognized as All-Americans. Under his guidance, the women’s basketball team won their first-ever national tournament game in 2016 and advanced to the USCAA Final Four for the first time in school history. The men’s basketball team followed suit in both 2017 and 2018, winning national tournament games for the first time and being one shot away from advancing to the national championship game in 2017.
Volleyball has now made three consecutive national tournament appearances and advanced to the final four this past season.
Ashby guided the Bengals from the NAIA and Sunrise Conference after the conference dissolved to the USCAA, where they began their dominant run in 2010. Through the change, however, his athletic teams’ success never wavered and UMFK athletics is currently at heights that have never been reached before.
Under Armour named him Athletic Director of the Year in 2011 and the USCAA recognized him in 2014 as National Athletic Director of the Year.
In an April 2017 story summing up the university’s athletic successes, Ashby told St. John Valley Times and fiddleheadfocus.com reporter Jessica Potila that three criteria drive his decisions about which athletes he wants to recruit.
“Are they a good person, are they a good student, are they athletically inclined, in that order,” Ashby said. “It seems to be a recipe for success for us here.”