There has been a whirlwind of activity across the nation as colleges have worked to fill coaching vacancies within their women’s basketball programs.
Blodgett, the former Black Bears All-American, was fired March 28 by UMaine athletic director Steve Abbott after leading the program to a 24-94 record in four seasons as the head coach.
Abbott, who is attending this week’s Hockey East Association meetings in Florida, said the search is progressing well.
“We’ve had 70 applications so for the job,” Abbott said. “We’ve had a number of great candidates.”
Abbott said the seven-member search committee being chaired by former UMaine dean Robert Cobb is moving quickly, but methodically, through the list of potential candidates.
“The committee has been doing phone interviews and actually video conference interviews with a number of candidates,” Abbott said. “They’re very pleased with what they’re seeing and they’re in the process of narrowing it down.”
While no timetable has been announced, the committee has now reached the end of its third week of consideration and deliberations. A short list should be forthcoming in the near future.
It should be noted few NCAA Division I women’s positions remain open, even though there were more than 20 vacant less than a month ago.
According the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association website, only three Division I jobs were up for grabs as of Tuesday. UMaine is joined by Colgate and Evansville in the quest to identify the right candidate for their respective openings.
In all, 25 other Division I programs have already replaced their women’s basketball coaches since the end of the 2010-11 season. That includes Stony Brook University on Long Island, one of UMaine’s opponents in the America East Conference.
Among the jobs that have been filled, seven of the 25 (28 percent) have gone to men.
While applicants are hesitant to reveal their candidacy for a job and though Abbott won’t provide any names, a few have surfaced.
There are reportedly at least a handful of men among the 70 applicants for the UMaine position. That group includes Hermon native and former Liberty University men’s head coach Randy Dunton, Colby College graduate and California Lutheran women’s head coach Roy Dow and Gardner-Webb women’s head coach Rick Reeves.
Gary Fifield, the longtime coach of the successful Division III program at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham, is not a candidate for the UMaine job, according to a source.
Dunton, 50, is a 1979 graduate of Bangor Christian School. He is a 1984 grad of Baptist Bible College in Hannibal, Mo., where he played for Roger Reed, the longtime head coach at Bangor High School.
Dunton spent 14 seasons at Liberty, including six as head coach (1997-98, 2002-07). Dunton’s teams compiled a 77-102 record and earned a Big South Conference title in 2004.
Dow, 49, played basketball and baseball at Colby College in Waterville before graduating in 1984. He has been on the West Coast since 2002, spending six years as the men’s coach at Cal Tech (4-144 record), before moving on to Cal Lutheran, where his teams are 40-36 over the last three seasons.
Dow began his career as an assistant, serving three years at Holy Cross and one at Division II Chaminade. He served as the interim head coach at Colby during 2001-02, when head coach Dick Whitmore was on sabbatical.
Another veteran coach who apparently has turned an eye toward Orono is the 53-year-old Reeves, who has a track record of rebuilding programs.
Reeves, a 1981 graduate of Indiana State, boasts 25 seasons of head coaching experience and a 399-331 record. He has spent the last seven years at Gardner-Webb, guiding it to a 118-111 mark while winning four Big South Coach of the Year honors.
Reeves, who previously spent five seasons at Southern Mississippi (68-74), also logged nine seasons at Liberty (139-118) and four at University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky (77-39).
If these coaches are indicative of the candidates being reviewed, UMaine should be able to hire a coach with the experience to help rejuvenate the Black Bears.