LEWISTON — One of the most most recognizeable faces of Bates College Athletics is turning in his whistle and clipboard in favor of retirement as this school years winds down.

Jim Murphy, who has guided the women’s basketball team at Bates for 21 years, and who also coached the women’s soccer team for 16 seasons, announced Tuesday he will step down, effective the end of this academic year.

“Throughout his tenure, (Murphy) has led his programs with the utmost integrity, an amazing work ethic and a passion for excellence,” Bates Director of Athletics Kevin McHugh said in a news release. “Beyond the multitude of achievements, Jim’s outstanding leadership is also reflected in the scores of young women who played for him and have gone on to distinguish themselves after their Bates careers.

“Jim always brought a sense of humor and has been a quiet, steadfast influence, instrumental in the development of our younger staff. He will be sorely missed but remembered fondly.”

In 21 seasons, Murphy’s teams earned 343 victories and appeared in the NCAA Division III Tournament six times.

Murphy has led the women’s basketball program through 21 of its 47 years of existence, and is the program’s longest-tenured coach. Murphy entered the 2014–15 season ranked 49th among active Division III coaches in career wins (333), and finishes his career with a 343–187 record — a winning percentage of .647.

Murphy, a Portland native, is a 1969 graduate of Bates College. He taught English for 24 years at Masconomet Regional High School in Topsfield, Mass., where he coached the girls’ soccer team to a 269–40–16 record and the girls’ basketball team to a 132–31 mark. Murphy returned to his alma mater in 1994 to lead the women’s varsity soccer and basketball programs.

At Bates, he spearheaded an almost immediate turnaround in the basketball team’s fortunes. Murphy led the Bobcats to a 17–7 mark in his second season, kicking off a run of 15 consecutive winning seasons. Bates competed in the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time in 1996–97, finishing 20–5, then returned to the NCAAs for three more years in a row, including a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 1997–98.

Bates reached new heights in 2004–05, earning the No. 1 national ranking for four weeks and finishing 25–3 with a second NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance. Bates returned to the tournament for a sixth time in 2006, finishing 19–9. Sixteen of Murphy’s 21 teams finished with a winning record, and six former players were named All-America.

Murphy led the women’s soccer team for 16 seasons beginning in 1994, amassing a 146–93–13 record, including the 2005 NESCAC Women’s Soccer Championship and NCAA Division III Championship tournament appearances in 1996, 1997 and 2005. Murphy also coached the team to two ECAC Championship finals, winning the title in 1998.

As a student at Bates, Murphy was an elite quarterback for the team’s football program. He still owns the team’s records for touchdown passes in a career (50) and season (17), and is one of just three players to have his number (10) retired, in 1968. He also played two years of varsity basketball at Bates.

“He was kind of humble about it all,” the late Bob Hatch, former Bates football coach, told Bates Magazine in 1997. “He never considered himself a big star, even though he clearly was.”

In the Bates Magazine story, Murphy said, “Everything has to be earned. If you’re a member of varsity or a starter, you should be proud, but come fall or spring, it’s something you have to earn.

“The things in life that are earned are to be cherished and treasured and are much more valuable than something that’s given to you. Competing for your school is the greatest opportunity someone can have, and you have to earn the right to be on the team, or to get playing time, or to start.”

McHugh said the school will begin a national search for Murphy’s replacement immediately.


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