Years as Athletic Director at UMO (1966-1982)

The transition in 1966 from Coach to Athletic Director was a major change for me. All of a sudden I found myself responsible for all men’s and women’s sports activities. The men’s programs consisted of basketball, baseball, football, outdoor and indoor track and field, soccer, tennis, golf, riflery and sailing, and they were centered in the Memorial Gym, Field House area, and Alumni Field. Competition was intercollegiate primarily with Bowdoin, Bates, Colby, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

1965, Westy, now the Athletic Director

Women’s sports consisted of basketball, volleyball and field hockey, and activities were held across campus at Lengyel Hall with their adjacent athletic fields. There was no varsity competition with other colleges, but only an intramural program.

In 1972, congress passed a new law called Title IX that insured equal opportunity for women, including funds to sponsor additional programs. Now, all of a sudden, adjustments had to be made. A new training room and weight room, with all new equipment, were provided at Lengyel Hall.

Soon several women students demanded access to the men’s training facilities in Memorial Gym, and to the weight rooms. This created real problems regarding the use of equipment. The men now had to wear swimming suits when using the whirlpool, and a new locker room had to be provided for the women even though they had ample space at Lengyel Hall. The bottom line was that the women wanted to be with the men.

Every effort was made to comply with the law. In a few weeks after all the changes were made, the women who had demanded the changes now decided that they would rather be back just with the women in their original facilities in Lengyel Hall.

We did, however, soon add Intercollegiate competition for all women’s programs. The expense was enormous, but the President had no choice but to find the money. The State legislature had to increase the University’s general budget. We started women’s track and field, soccer, tag football, and soon women’s ice hockey.

As I approached retirement in 1982, I had a final meeting with the staff of Physical Education and Athletics, and my notes of what I said to them follow below.

The Last Staff Meeting 1982 UMO

Since it has been six years since our last staff picture, I thought that you might like to see how some of us have aged while most of you have stayed quite young. During the past several weeks I’ve been meeting with the President and his staff discussing several aspects for the future direction of our department. I want to take a minute to share with you what I perceive to be his views and plans for our future.

Experience tells me that one really never knows anything for sure or that something will turn out exactly as you plan it. The President does project a favorable view toward Physical Education and Athletics. He does feel that the entire University assembly, including the Academic program, the non-academic programs, and the Administrative bureaucracy, needs re-evaluation, first by an inside review, and then an outside review. After he has received all reports, then critical and prudent decisions can be made to bring together programs on the one hand and financial resources on the other. He feels that this must be an ongoing process but in the mean time is reluctant to make final decisions that may have to be reversed.

Westy's last staff meeting

Our department will be included, and in the next few weeks priorities will be set and decisions made. Contrary to rumors it is my guess that there will not be any major changes in our programs. There will be some budget trimming in some areas, but they shouldn’t have any lasting ill effects. I’ll see that cuts are replaced, but I suggest that every dime that can be saved will be to our advantage.

The President has made some hard decisions in other departments. It is to your credit that we find ourselves in what I believe to be a strong position campus wide. The attention that you have paid in your work toward legitimate educational goals for the students that you teach and coach, has protected us from unreasonable cuts. As a result our programs will be strengthened. The values of an athletic experience cannot be just talk, but must be real.
One rumor that you may have heard “that Westy may retire soon” does have some substance. Not that it’s any big deal, but rather than have you hear it or pick up the paper and read it, I wanted to tell you myself. I’ll be finishing up at the end of May. I’m only a few months away from 65 years of age and think that it’s time to turn things over to someone younger, and perhaps in some ways not so old-fashioned or conservative in their thinking.
This certainly hasn’t been an easy decision to come to and I sincerely want to thank all of you for your part in making my job easier as you have carried out your responsibilities. As you have heard me say before it has been a privilege to be a part of this great University. I do urge all of you to actively express a positive and constructive attitude toward the future of Physical Education and Athletics here at Orono. If you are united and reflect a common strength for each other – you and the students will WIN!!
I appreciate that all of you have attended this staff meeting today. Good Luck
From your Athletic Director Harold S.Westerman – May 1982

Finally the day for retirement came, and my good friend and mentor Dave Nelson agreed to be the guest speaker at my retirement dinner. Dave’s notes for his remarks are included to close this chapter.

Jimmy Butterfield introducing Dave Nelson (left) at Westy's retirement event

Eulogy for Coach Harold S. Westerman
by David M. Nelson
Westy’s Retirement Dinner
UMO Campus 6/15/1982

It is a simple matter to build monuments or give testimony for coaches who leave their mark with a number of victories and few defeats or administrators who build facilities or raise money —– Westy has done all of this —- my admiration for Harold and the tribute I pay him tonight is that he gave the coaching profession and the University of Maine a much better reputation by just being part of them.

Our world is so complex that finding someone to admire for ethical reasons is very difficult. The technique of self and mass production is just that, “so-called.”

Persons are admired in an abstract way. Publicity, politics, self-serving and even subterfuge in intercollegiate athletics leaves a doubt as to what is talent to be admired and excellence that can be identified —- integrity.

There are two statements that capture the philosophy of Harold Westerman and are his monuments to excellence.
1) If you treat persons as they are, they will remain as they are.
2) If you treat them as though they were what they could be and should be, they will become what they could and should be.
Westy challenged, taught and led — definable talents.

Harold’s second axiom also identifies a talent to be admired.
If you can demand a student’s time, you can command his or her physical presence at a given place. You can even command a measured number of skilled muscular motions per hour or day. But you cannot command enthusiasm, you cannot command initiative, you cannot command the devotion of hearts, minds and soul.
You have to earn these things — Harold did — This is an identifiable talent of Westy in a very complex time.

1) In a time when hero worship is out of fashion, I still have one by the name of Amos Alonzo Stagg, the “patron saint of college football.”
a) His integrity is legendary
b) He personified what Alexander Pope said, that: “An honest man is the noblest work of God”
c) Westy is the nearest thing I have seen to Mr. Stagg in my years of college football
d) On his own birthday Mr. Stagg was asked how he would like to be remembered, and he said: “I would like to be remembered as an honest man with great integrity.”
e) Westy, you still have that choice to make, but I’m betting you go along with Coach Stagg.

2) Sometimes I think that Harold may have wasted a lot of talent in our profession because I’m sure that he would have been successful in any chosen field. Then I remembered what Red Smith said when asked if he hadn’t wasted his writing talent on sports. He said “No, because I am well aware that the “ball park” is all that is left of Rome.”

I am deeply indebted to Westy for so many things since that first day we started our coaching years at Hillsdale, and I hope there is enough time left to even the score.
“ may you always be second down and one”
“ may the wind always be at your back”
“ may all of your fumbles have the best of bounces”


Retirement Event: Dave & Shirley Nelson; Harold & Shirley Westerman

Retirement Event: singing the Maine Stein Song

Retirement Event: Prexy and Bud Folger

Retirement Event: Westy with Win Libby

Retirement Event - the new "chair"


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s