RINDGE - Franklin Pierce University Director of Athletics Bruce Kirsh has announced his retirement from the institution, effective Dec. 31.
Kirsh's announcement concludes a 43-year run of service at the institution, including 37 years as the Director of Athletics.
A member of Franklin Pierce's graduating class of 1971, Kirsh arrived as a student in Rindge in the fall of 1969, and since that time has served a variety of roles in addition to overseeing the Department of Athletics.
During his time at Franklin Pierce, Kirsh saw teams earn six national championships, 26 NCAA regional championships, 45 conference championships, and 75 all-time NCAA post-season appearances.
Kirsh was a member of the school's baseball program as an undergraduate, and, shortly after graduating from Franklin Pierce, returned as an assistant basketball coach in 1973. He was promoted to head basketball coach in 1977.
In just his second season as the head coach, Kirsh led the Ravens to a 19-9 record and the Mayflower Conference championship, which marked the first of six consecutive seasons the team won either the conference or NAIA District V championship.
The 1980 NAIA District Coach of the Year, Kirsh was at the helm of the men's program for 12 seasons, and produced an overall record of 254-119 for a .719 winning percentage that ranks as one of the all-time best in small college basketball history.
Kirsh also served as the head coach for several other programs during his tenure including soccer, softball, baseball, women's basketball, and golf. Kirsh became the Director of Athletics in 1978 and helped build the athletic department into an NAIA regional power by the late 1980s.
In 1988 he helped Franklin Pierce become a member of the NCAA at the Division II level. Three years after joining the NCAA, the men's soccer team played in the 1991 NCAA Division II Final Four, marking the first of 22 national semifinal appearances by a number of Raven teams.
During Kirsh's tenure, women's soccer captured five NCAA national championships ('94, '95, '96, '97, '99). Men's soccer won the national championship in 2007. The women's basketball program reached the national championship in 2009. In addition to national championship play, ten different programs have combined to earn 75 all-time NCAA Tournament appearances.
"It's amazing to think what we have been able to accomplish at the NCAA level during my time," Kirsh said. "I would rank our NCAA success right up there with anyone's in the country. I am so proud that the desire displayed by so many paid off with post-season success."
Kirsh takes more pride in the fact that the school's student-athletes achieved just as much success in the classroom. Several teams have earned academic distinction from various national organizations throughout the years. Several individuals have been recognized for their performance in the classroom by earning prestigious academic awards from organizations such as the NCAA, Northeast-10 Conference, ECAC, NECC, and CoSIDA.
Franklin Pierce student-athletes annually rank among the top performers in the classroom among all Northeast-10 schools. In the 2013-14 year alone, more than 50 percent of Ravens student-athletes were named to the NE-10 Commissioner's Academic Honor Rolls for earning grade point averages of 3.0 or higher.
The University will appoint an interim AD for the spring semester while it searches for a permanent Athletics Director, with an expected start date of July 2015.