Blodgett to speak in Bangor; discretionary fund revealed

Posted March 30, 2011, at 8:27 p.m.
Last modified April 11, 2011, at 6:04 p.m.
Cindy Blodgett talks to her University of Maine women's basketball players during an exhibition game in November. Blodgett was fired as the Black Bears coach on March 29.
Michael C. York | BDN
Cindy Blodgett talks to her University of Maine women's basketball players during an exhibition game in November. Blodgett was fired as the Black Bears coach on March 29.

   Cindy Blodgett, who on Tuesday was relieved of her duties as the University of Maine women’s basketball coach, will break her silence Thursday.

   Blodgett, a native of Clinton, has scheduled a 2 p.m. press conference in the upstairs function room at Paddy Murphy’s in downtown Bangor.

   Blodgett, who has not commented publicly on her firing, is expected to address a media gathering and share her thoughts on the situation.

   Despite speculation around eastern Maine about a potential lawsuit, Blodgett is not expected to take any legal action against UMaine or its employees.

   Blodgett has consulted with an attorney, Thomas Nale of Waterville, who had handled her contract negotiations back in 1998 when she was drafted in the first round, sixth overall, by the WNBA’s Cleveland Rockers.

   UMaine athletic director Steve Abbott confirmed he met with Nale, who on Wednesday told WLBZ-TV in Bangor that Blodgett has no intention of taking legal action against UMaine. He explained he, as a longtime friend of Blodgett, was providing her with legal advice and direction.

   Nale also said he will not attend Blodgett’s press conference.

Discretionary fund source of buyout

   The money used to buy out Blodgett’s UMaine coaching contract came from a discretionary fund controlled by outgoing UMaine President Robert Kennedy.

   Under the terms of Blodgett’s contract, UMaine will pay her one year’s salary — $109,772 — to terminate the agreement.

   “It’s a fund that comes from private sources, expendable at the president’s discretion,” UMaine spokesman Joe Carr said Wednesday.

   Carr pointed out the money for the buyout was not acquired through any explicit effort to direct funds toward the buyout. Instead, Kennedy has access to the account and can use those funds for a variety of expenses as he deems appropriate.

   Carr was not immediately able to provide any further details about the discretionary fund.

   Blodgett last September had negotiated a two-year extension of her original four-year contract signed in 2007. That deal for the extension, reached with former athletic director Blake James before his departure last September and approved by Kennedy, would have taken Blodgett through June 30, 2013.

   Blodgett guided UMaine to a 24-94 record (.203 winning percentage) since taking over for Ann McInerney in 2007. Her teams routinely finished at or near the bottom of the America East standings and lost first-round playoff games in each of her four seasons.

   The Black Bears were 4-25 last winter.

   Blodgett starred at Lawrence High School in Fairfield, leading the Bulldogs to four consecutive Class A state championships under coach Bruce Cooper.

   At UMaine, the four-time All-American sparked coach Joanne Palombo-McCallie’s squad to four America East titles and four straight trips to the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.

   Blodgett finished her career with 3,005 points, which ranked fifth in Division I women’s history at the time of her graduation. She still holds 20 UMaine basketball records.

   She played four seasons in the WNBA, then completed her pro playing career with stints in Korea, France and the U.S.

   Blodgett began her coaching career as a graduate assistant at Boston University during the 1999-2000 season, then served as an assistant for two seasons (2005-07) at Division I Brown University.

   Blodgett also is the all-time leading scorer in Maine high school basketball history — boys or girls — with 2,596 points.

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