Blake James, who has been the athletic director at the University of Maine since 2005, is among the candidates for the same position at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.
James has been included on a list of 15 candidates who will be considered when the FGCU selection committee, chaired by Hudson Rogers, reconvenes Sunday after reference and background checks have been conducted, according to a report in the News-Press of Fort Myers.
A group of four to eight finalists is expected to be determined by March 25.
James, who was among 172 applicants, confirmed Tuesday he is a candidate.
“Obviously, yes I did apply for it,” he said. “If you like Florida, and [my wife] Kelly and I are in a group that really love it, it’s a beautiful school in an area that has really grown and continues to see growth.”
James said another attractive aspect is the fact Kelly James’ family lives in Florida.
“It’s an upcoming program and an opportunity to get closer to family,” Blake James said.
The report in the News-Press mentioned FGCU interim athletic director Jo-Anne Nester and Kenneth Kavanagh, the AD at Bradley University, as heading the list of candidates.
Both were nominated by eight of nine search committee members present who voted on whom should be included in the phone interview process. James and Bud Haidet, the AD at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, each received seven votes out of a possible nine, putting them near the top of the list.
Former UMaine men’s basketball coach Rudy Keeling and Binghamton University athletic director Joel Thirer also were on the original list, although Keeling is no longer under consideration.
Florida Gulf Coast University is one of 11 institutions in the State University System of Florida. It opened for classes in 1997 and has an enrollment of more than 10,200.
The school offers 14 sports that compete at the Division I level in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Eagles are in only their second year of Division I competition.
James has been at UMaine since 2003. He did a two-year stint as the senior associate athletic director, then was the interim AD from July 2005 until May 2006, when president Robert Kennedy appointed James to the permanent AD post.
James previously worked at Providence College, the University of Miami and the University of Nebraska. He earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Minnesota State University-Mankato in 1992 and received a master’s from St. Thomas University in Miami in 1994.
James has been at the helm of a UMaine athletic program that has struggled overall during the last two years. Black Bear teams compiled an overall won-lost record of 84-210-11 (.293) during 2007-08 and UMaine teams are 98-156-18 (.393) this season.
Since the start of 2007-08, UMaine has advanced to the conference semifinals only three times (volleyball, women’s soccer and field hockey in 2009) and sent only one squad (2008 football) to an NCAA Tournament.
However, during his tenure, UMaine athletics has refurbished Morse Field at Alfond Stadium and Mahaney Diamond in addition to constructing a new field hockey field. All of the facilities feature FieldTurf surfaces.
Black Bears student-athletes also have performed extremely well in the classroom during James’ tenure.