ORONO, Maine — In July, the University of Maine began the search for a senior associate athletics director.
More than two months later, the effort continues.
UMaine Athletics Director Steve Abbott said Thursday the department is redirecting the screening process after interviewing an undisclosed number of in-house candidates.
“We’ve had a very good discussion internally,” said Abbott, who said he was prohibited by privacy laws from disclosing either who had applied for the position or how many people had been interviewed.
“We’re at the point where we want to look at outside applicants as well,” he said. “We haven’t posted the position yet, but we’ll be doing that in the next couple of days.”
Abbott did say some promising ideas about key operational issues were brought up during the interviews.
There had been speculation UMaine men’s basketball head coach Ted Woodward was a frontrunner for the position. However, Abbott said Woodward was not a candidate.
“I asked him to consider applying and I talked to him about the position,” said Abbott, who explained he is able to comment on Woodward since he was never a candidate.
“Ted has great knowledge of and insight into college athletics and is devoted to the university,” he continued. “Ultimately, Ted said he loved coaching basketball at UMaine too much to move into administration.”
With the support of UMaine President Paul Ferguson, Abbott proposed adding the $100,000-per-year job in an attempt to elevate the department and maximize efficiency. Abbott previously said the aim is to have a No. 2 person in the organization who can focus on operational details and financial issues.
That, in turn, will enable Abbott to more effectively serve the department in other key areas, including fundraising.
Abbott said the initial group of candidates lacked sufficient experience in an area deemed critical for the position.
“One of the areas of emphasis will definitely be experience with the business aspects of college athletics,” Abbott said. “That’s something that we’ll continue to emphasize with the search.”
UMaine had formed a three-member search committee to help identify candidates for the opening. Abbott said the committee makeup will change as the search moves forward.
“That’s out of fairness to the committee members,” he said. “It’s a volunteer effort.”
UMaine previously had a senior associate AD on its staff for several years. The position was not filled, because of budget constraints, after Blake James vacated it to become the athletics director in 2006.
Abbott said while ideally UMaine would like to have the position filled, it is better to be thorough.
“We’ll continue to search until we find exactly the fit that we’re looking for,” he said, pointing out there isn’t the same sense of urgency as would exist would a head coach need to be replaced.
“We have the luxury of taking a little bit more time,” Abbott said. “We’d like somebody as quickly as possible, but we’re not going to sacrifice the effort to get the right fit in order to expedite the search.”
Blue on Blue game Saturday
The UMaine men’s ice hockey team will take to the softball field Saturday for the third annual Blue on Blue softball game.
The event, which starts at 1 p.m., will pit coach Tim Whitehead’s Black Bears against members of local law enforcement agencies in a contest on Kessock Field. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to benefit the Special Olympics of Maine.
There will be raffles for prizes and a 50-50 drawing, along with food and beverage sales.
UMaine leads law enforcement 2-0 in the series.
UM baseball plans events
UMaine baseball coach Steve Trimper hopes to welcome back many former Black Bear standouts for an alumni game.
He said all former players are invited to attend the contest, which will be played Sept. 22 at Mahaney Diamond. Batting practice is scheduled for 10 a.m., followed by a nine-inning game at 12:30 p.m.
Lunch will be provided and participants will then be invited to attend UMaine’s 6 p.m. football game against Villanova on Morse Field at Alfond Stadium.
Interested players are asked to confirm their participation by contacting Trimper at 659-2405 or by email at Steven.Trimper@umit.maine.edu.
UMaine baseball also is gearing up for its third annual Baseball Fantasy Camp, which is slated Oct. 5-7.
Participants will have the chance to play ball on Mahaney Diamond along with other baseball aficionados of all ages.
Campers receive a UMaine baseball jersey and hat along with a pair of batting gloves. The camp starts Oct. 5 with a 3 p.m. batting practice session, followed by dinner and a night game.
Players will be placed on one of four teams that will play games throughout the day Saturday, then will receive tickets to attend the 7 p.m. men’s hockey game against Quinnipiac at Alfond Arena.
The camp wraps up Sunday morning with breakfast, games and a “Kangaroo Court” session with the “Honorable” Jon Warden, a former player with the Detroit Tigers who will tell some baseball stories and share his unique brand of humor.
The cost of the Fantasy Camp is $300, which includes all meals and equipment. Limited spots are available. Contact the UMaine baseball office at 581-1096 or volunteer coach Ryan Forrest at email@example.com.