The University of Maine’s athletic program has been in the spotlight this week.
First, interim athletic director Steve Abbott signed a two-year contract to be the athletic director at the school and, in his first major move, he fired women’s basketball coach Cindy Blodgett with two years remaining on her contract. She coached four seasons.
Longtime UMaine sports followers, Orono’s Ray Cota, Old Town’s Nonni Daly and Bangor’s Tony and Dottie Cerbone weighed in on the week.
“My feeling is that it’s the university’s business,” said Cota, who runs the clock at Maine men’s and women’s basketball games. “They hire them and they fire them. Cindy did a lot of great things as a player but she didn’t do very well as a coach.
“Steve has certainly inserted himself and asserted himself into the conversation of athletics at the University of Maine very quickly. He will do well. He’s an intelligent man. He doesn’t appear to be the type to make quick decisions although, one day after he was hired, he fired one of the most high-profile coaches at the university. But he’s been watching that situation all year.”
Daly said, “I’m very pleased that they have a permanent AD in place so they don’t have to deal with someone that has the iffiness of an interim position. I don’t want to comment on the Cindy thing. I was glad to see Steve was able to start off by making a very tough decision.”
Tony Cerbone, with wife Dottie in agreement, said, “I think (Abbott) jumped the gun by letting Cindy go. She’s an icon up there from when she was a player. Because of her connection with the university, she should been allowed to fill out her contract. For the good of the school, the good of the community and the good of the team, morale-wise, they should of let her finish it out. She’s a smart girl, she loves the university and wouldn’t do anything to hurt the university. If she still hadn’t performed or the team wasn’t doing better by the end of her contract, I think she would have stepped aside and you wouldn’t have had the hoopla.”
Cerbone also said Abbott shouldn’t be solely to blame for the firing.
“He must have had to run (his decision) by somebody else,” added Cerbone, who felt a lot of the fans who attended Maine women’s basketball games went to watch Blodgett coach.
Dottie Cerbone said, “I was shocked. It takes more than a few years to build a program. It seems like everybody else gets a longer shot (than Blodgett received).”