UMaine women’s ice hockey coach Lewis to resign; program faces NCAA penalties

Posted Oct. 30, 2013, at 5:31 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 31, 2013, at 10:55 a.m.
Maria Lewis, who has been on paid administrative leave since Sept. 16, pending an investigation focusing primarily on potential NCAA compliance issues, will resign her position on Thursday, the university reported Wednesday.
University of Maine
Maria Lewis, who has been on paid administrative leave since Sept. 16, pending an investigation focusing primarily on potential NCAA compliance issues, will resign her position on Thursday, the university reported Wednesday.

ORONO, Maine — University of Maine women’s ice hockey head coach Maria Lewis will resign her position effective Thursday.

Lewis has been on paid administrative leave since Sept. 16, pending an investigation focusing primarily on potential NCAA compliance issues.

“It’s good to have it resolved,” said UMaine athletic director Steve Abbott. “Maria worked very hard and cared very deeply about the program. She really wanted it to succeed.

“This is a difficult situation for all of us,” added Abbott.

Lewis could not be reached for comment.

Abbott said UMaine will be reporting Level 3 violations to the NCAA within the next two weeks. He explained that the most severe violations are considered Level 1 and the least severe are Level 4.

“These are secondary violations but they’re still serious. They involve countable athletic-related activities,” explained Abbott. “There was excess practice time and there were workouts supervised by a coach when they were supposed to be captain’s practices (without a coach present).”

Teams are allowed a specific number of practice days under NCAA guidelines.

He also said they will be imposing their own sanctions on the program “consistent with the penalties for these type of violations (under NCAA guidelines).

“It will mean reduced practice time and a couple of additional days off,” stated Abbott.

The Black Bears are 0-5-1 overall, 0-1-1 in Hockey East.

For the remainder of the season, the team will be led by its two assistant coaches, recently-married Sara (Simard) Reichenbach and Richard Reichenbach.

A national search will begin after the season, Abbott said.

Abbott said it is good for the players to have “clarity” and he has been pleased with the job turned in by the Reichenbachs.

“They are outstanding coaches and they have done extremely well through this situation,” said Abbott. “The team is in very capable hands. And the players have responded very well.”

Abbott said Lewis, who earns $45,000 per year, will receive three months pay in addition to her accrued benefits. She was in her fourth season with the program.

Lewis had received a three-year contract extension effective July 1, 2012. It would have taken her through June 30, 2015.

Lewis has compiled a 34-52-15 record including a 5-24-4 mark last season. The Black Bears were 2-16-3 in Hockey East.

Two years ago, she led Maine to a 17-11-6 record, 11-8-2 in Hockey East, and she was named the Hockey East Co-Coach of the Year.

The 11 Hockey East wins set a school record and the 17 overall wins tied the school mark previously set by the 2005-06 team (17-9-6).

Five of Maine’s six games this season have been against teams ranked in the top nine in the country in the most recent United States College Hockey Online poll: No. 6 Boston College (5-1), No. 8 Mercyhurst (2-1, 5-0) and No. 9 Quinnipiac (4-0, 5-2).

The Black Bears tied No. 13 New Hampshire 2-2.

Maine hosts Northeastern (4-5, 1-2 in Hockey East) on Friday night at 7 and Connecticut (3-4, 0-0) on Sunday afternoon at 2.

Lewis was a volunteer assistant at Maine during the 1999-2000 season before serving as an assistant at Mercyhurst and North Dakota.

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