After 50-year career on, off ice, Denver athletic director Grahame to retire, effective Sept. 1

Ron Grahame will retire in just 11 days’ time (photo: DU Athletics).

Denver athletic Director Ron Grahame has announced his retirement for Sept. 1, 2019.

“Ron Grahame had a tremendous impact on the University of Denver long before I arrived on campus, but I will always be thankful for his leadership and guidance during my first 18 months as a Pioneer,” vice chancellor for athletics, recreation and Ritchie Center operations Karlton Creech said in a statement. “His ability to lead the athletic programs to the success this university has managed over the last few decades, while standing by the integrity Ron practices and preaches everyday makes his career truly amazing and one that sport administrators here and around the country should strive to replicate.

“We will miss Ron greatly, and we look forward to celebrating his 50 years in Crimson and Gold next week. We wish Ron, Charlotte and their family the best in this next chapter of their lives. They will always be Pioneers.”

Creech will announce a reorganization of the division of athletics and recreation next week.

The department will host a retirement party for Grahame on Tuesday, Aug. 27 from 3:30-5 p.m. MST in the Gottesfeld Room on the fourth floor of the Daniel L. Ritchie Center for Sports and Wellness.

Grahame and his wife Charlotte have been long-time Denver residents, have two sons and are proud grandparents of five. John Grahame was a former NHL goaltender, winning the Stanley Cup in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning, while Jason Grahame played his collegiate hockey at Denver (2003), making him and Ron the first father-son combo in hockey to play for the Pioneers. When John signed with the Bruins, they became just the second father-son goalie tandem to play for the same NHL team.

“It has been my honor to represent the university for more than 40 years as a student-athlete, coach and administrator,” Ron Grahame said in a statement. “During that time, there have been many changes that have afforded me the opportunity to grow as a person for which I’m extremely thankful. Watching this great institution and athletic department grow from what it was in 1969 to what it is today has been truly remarkable.

“There are so many people I would like to thank – too many to mention in this short space. I would like to specifically acknowledge Murray Armstrong, my coach and the man who first brought me to Denver as a student-athlete which began my long association with the University. Jack McDonald, who wanted a former Pioneer on his staff in athletics and took a chance on an old goalie. Peg Bradley-Doppes for all of her unwavering support despite knowing nothing of me or the staff she inherited. Chancellors Dwight Smith, Dan Ritchie, Robert Coombe and Rebecca Chopp who we all owe our thanks for their leadership and guidance. Board of Trustee members Joy Burns, John Miller, KC Gallagher, Cappy Shopneck and Jane Hamilton for their unwavering support for athletics. I also can’t thank my family enough – my wife, Charlotte, and my two sons, John and Jason, for always being there throughout the adventure and growing our family with the wonderful additions of daughter-in-laws Sandra and Niki as well as five grandkids, Jack, Violet, Colton, Knox and Luke.

“It has truly been a privilege to serve the University of Denver and work with so many wonderful staff, coaches and students. I feel fortunate to have been a Pioneer for most of my life and Denver will always be home for the Grahames.”

Grahame played hockey and lacrosse at DU from 1969 to 1973, winning a WCHA championship in 1973, in addition to being named a First Team All-American, WCHA player of the year, university student-athlete of the year and leading the Pioneers to a second-place finish in the NCAA tournament.

His pro hockey career (1973-81) included stops with the WHA’s Houston Aeros (winning a title in 1974), Binghamton Whalers and NHL’s Boston Bruins (Stanley Cup finalist in 1978) and Los Angeles Kings.

From 1982 to 1990, Grahame was an associate hockey coach at Denver and then an assistant at St. Cloud during the 1990-91 season. He went back to DU and served as the assistant AD for operations and compliance from 1993 to 1999.

Inducted into the University of Denver Hall of Fame in 1997, Grahame was then associate athletic director for intercollegiate sport programs from 1999 to 2005.

“Ron Grahame was a great role model for me as a coach at DU,” said former hockey coach Jim Montgomery, now head coach of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. “As my boss, he taught me how to be humble, a great team player on campus, how to lead student-athletes and to trust my instincts. He impacted my life in such a positive fashion that I never wanted to disappoint him with how our team, staff and I represented DU at all times. He made us want to be great by doing things the right way.”

Montgomery’s predecessor, George Gwozdecky, also heaped praise on Grahame.

“Ron was one of the all-time great players at DU, perhaps only behind the legendary Keith Magnuson,” Gwozdecky said. “As a DU athletics administrator, Ron was defined by his unwavering loyalty to the University of Denver, which no one could ever question. Ron had a tremendous impact on the university as a whole, and I wish Ron and his family all the best.”

Grahame served from 2000 to 2004 on the NCAA DI Men’s Ice Hockey Committee, chairing the committee in 2004.

Promoted to senior associate athletic director in 2005, Grahame held that role until 2013 when he was named associate vice chancellor for sports supervision and internal operation. He filled that role until 2016 when he took over as deputy athletic director and later, director of athletics in 2017. That same year, Grahame was given the NCHC Distinguished Service Award.

In 2013, Grahame was selected the recipient of the DU Distinguished Service Award and two years later,
was the honoree of the inaugural recipient of the Unsung Hero Award.

“Ron Grahame is Mr. DU,” said former Denver director of athletics Dr. M. Dianne Murphy. “A standout hockey player, a caring athletics administrator, a wonderful life partner to his wife and a fabulous father to two great guys. Most of all, Ron is a person who truly loves the University of Denver and has served her well. I wish him a great retirement. It is much deserved.”