UTICA — A trip to the NCAA Division III men’s basketball Sweet Sixteen round in 2006, a program’s first appearance in the Division III men’s hockey Frozen Four in 2013 and a football team’s first bowl game victory a year ago.

Those are just a few of the many big moments Gil Burgmaster experienced during his 14 years with Utica College’s athletic department.

“They were experiences that I could never imagine as a 22-year-old kid,” said Burgmaster, who was recently named the director of athletic communication and media relations at Brockport State. “I couldn’t imagine a better way to start my career. It gave me an opportunity to learn so much and it allowed me to experience different things. It was the perfect spot to start.”

That career began when Burgmaster, a Spencerport native, was hired as UC’s head sports information director in 2005 by former Athletic Director Jim Spartano. He was offered the position less than six months after graduating from St. John Fisher College.

After years of hard work and dedication at Utica College, Burgmaster inevitably climbed his way up the ranks to become an associate athletic director in 2017, promoted by his “biggest mentor” Dave Fontaine, he said.

“Gil has built the sports information department into what it is at Utica College,” said Fontaine, Utica’s athletic director since 2012. “Gil is the type of person that you can trust to make the right decision for the college.”

Burgmaster’s decision to leave Utica and join Brockport’s staff was difficult for him, but it ultimately came down to his desire to work closer to his hometown, family and friends.

“I love Utica and the goal was to be here,” Burgmaster said. “But when this opportunity presented itself I jumped at it. I really enjoyed Utica and the time I spent here. The city and people are amazing.”

Burgmaster’s tenure at Utica College began with a jolt when he served as a primary contact for the men’s basketball team — which reached the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Division III Tournament — during the 2005-06 season.

“I got to travel with them,” Burgmaster said. “To be able to jump right into it was such a great way to start my career.”

That season, Utica lost two regular season games, the Empire 8 Conference Championship and the Sweet Sixteen game to St. John Fisher — Burgmaster’s old stomping grounds.

“I get asked that question a lot,” said Burgmaster, asked if he was secretly rooting for his alma mater. “After all my years I hope people realize I’m a Utica guy.”

Burgmaster will face a similar predicament this football season when Utica College — led by 12th-year head coach Blaise Faggiano — faces rival Brockport on Oct. 26 in Brockport.

“I don’t think he’s happy I am heading to an in-conference opponent,” Burgmaster joked. “But he gave me a big hug and wished me good luck. I’m going to miss Blaise.”

Faggiano shared those sentiments.

“It was like I lost a family member… like my brother or best friend was moving out of town,” Faggiano said. “I was crushed. He’s been a staple. I’m going to miss him, but I’m happy for him.

“He’s not a head coach, and not a player, so he’s not getting interviewed or getting all the credit. But anytime you have a successful organization, there are great people behind the scenes," Faggiano added.

But it wasn’t just a farewell tour during Burgmaster’s last week in his Harold T. Clark Athletic Center office. Much like during his frequent “80-hour weeks,” Burgmaster did not stop until the work was done.

“That’s one thing I never really stop doing,” Burgmaster said. “I’ve just been making sure my assistants have all the information they need to be successful. I feel good about where the department is.”

And so does Fontaine.

“Individuals like Gil and Jim (Murnane)… If you're lucky they come around once in a career,” Fontain said. “I’ve been lucky to have them both these last eight years.

“I’m losing a confidant, and I lose seeing a friend every day. But Gil has done it all the right way.”

Contact Sports Editor James McClendon at 315-792-5021 or follow him on Twitter @OD_McClendon