Cobb worked at UMaine for 38 years, including 30 years as a dean, before retiring in 2007. He headed the UMaine College of Education and Human Development.
“Bob is a leader of unquestioned integrity and commitment who truly appreciates the important role of intercollegiate athletics within an academic community,” said Abbott, who has known Cobb for many years and grew up with his children in Orono.
The UMaine coaching position opened up March 29 when Abbott dismissed former Black Bears star and Clinton native Cindy Blodgett after four seasons and a 24-94 overall record. Abbott said the process should take 4-8 weeks. The job was posted Tuesday on the UMaine website.
Cobb, 69, will chair a seven-member search committee that includes people with close ties to UMaine athletics and/or the women’s basketball program.
Committee members include Black Bears hall of fame basketball player Emily Ellis, a 1985 graduate, and Evie Smith (Class of 1959), who is a member of the Black Bear Board of Advisors and a former president of the Friends of Maine Women’s Basketball Booster group.
Also appointed were professor Robert Strong, UMaine’s NCAA Faculty Representative, David Townsend, the chairman of UMaine’s Athletic Advisory Board, and Black Bear head coaches Scott Atherley (women’s soccer) and Josette Babineau (field hockey).
“This is a terrific committee representing linkages to the women’s basketball program’s great traditions, to our academic community and to the Black Bear athletic department,” Abbott said. “We all have high expectations as we launch a national search to find the coach who will lead this program and its student-athletes to fulfill our high expectations in the classroom, on the court and in the community.”
Abbott also has involved team members in the process. Samantha Baranowski, Samantha Wheeler and Brittany Williams, all of whom will be seniors next year, will serve as team liaisons to the committee. He said they will be actively involved in shaping the search and completing the process.
“Another thing I wanted was a range of viewpoints,” Abbott said. “I think we’ve got a nice reach, with some of our strong academic people on campus who have a good understanding of athletics and then another couple people from the community.”
Abbott said he will meet Wednesday with committee members to initiate the process. He said he will convey what he sees as the committee’s role and will solicit input on how the search can be most efficient.
Abbott said Cobb will have the reins of the committee from this point forward. He explained the committee will be responsible for poring over the resumes, conducting phone interviews and paring the list down to a group of three or four finalists.
“Those names will become public, those people will come up to Orono and we’ll interview them and they’ll have an opportunity to meet with a number of people on campus,” Abbott said.
“I’ll make a selection out of that and I’ll make a recommendation to the president (Robert Kennedy) for his approval.”
Among the qualifications listed in the UMaine posting for the head coaching job are: Demonstrated ability to mentor and motivate student-athletes, a minimum of three years coaching experience at the collegiate level and a working knowledge of budget and business practices.
Cobb seemed a good choice to direct the committee because of his reputation as a proven leader on campus.
“The most important thing was to have a real veteran person to head it up,” Abbott said. “He’s somebody who knows how the university search process works but also knows athletics.”
Cobb was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Sports Done Right initiative under the Maine Center for Sport and Coaching administered by UMaine’s College of Education and Development.
That effort provides what the MCSC calls “a working philosophical base for guiding youth sports, linking sports to the overall school mission and community values, while supporting quality coaching education.”
Cobb was a football player at Springfield College in Massachusetts during his undergraduate days.