How many people can say they've been with the same company for nearly four decades? 

It's short list and Tim McDiffett is on it. 

But after 37 years, UAA's interim athletic director is retiring. McDiffett had been discussing it with his wife Mary for a few years but their deciding factor made it an easy call. 

"Want to spend more time with our family. We have a large family and have a number of grandkids that we don't get to see very often." 

The student-athletes and his coworkers are special to him.

"It's been an honor and a pleasure to serve here," he said. "I'll miss the people, the student-athletes because that's who we work for. At the end of the day, that's why we do what we do."

HIs retirement will become official June 30. This is his third stint as interim athletic director. He also served as a bridge in 1992 and 2013. 

A 1977 graduate of Kansas State, he began at UAA in 1981 as the sports information director after serving as a sportswriter and editor for The Anchorage Times. Four years later, he moved into an assistant AD position and has been in administration ever since.

But to stay almost 40 years? Like many who come to the 49th state, once you're here, Alaska grabs hold and doesn't let go.

"I didn't intend that. I think I came here because it was a great opportunity to work in sports information back in 1981," he said.

This year, he opened the door for two new coaches. Tanya Ho took over the gymnastics program, and the recently-hired Matt Curley now heads the hockey team. Curley has been here for about a month and is already experiencing a change in supervisor.

But he and McDiffett discussed it before he signed on as the new bench boss.

"That didn't affect it (his decision to take the position.). In this business, things change. Players change, coaches change, administration changes," he said. "Tim was great and upfront about it and I respect that a lot. At the end of the day, he was willing to give me a chance and I'm appreciative of that."  

When McDiffett began on campus, he started with a file cabinet and Selectric three typewriter. If you don't know what that is, look it up. Add in some correcto tape and he was living the dream.

"Pretty exciting for the day," he said. 

But more importantly, the university environment was a comfortable setting. 

"It was a good place for me. It was a good fit for my family," McDiffett said.

And a great ride for 37 years. 

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