ORONO, Maine — Seth Woodcock said it is a “great time to come on board” after being named the interim athletic director at the University of Maine, effective next Monday.
Woodcock will serve until the new athletic director is named and he replaces Steve Abbott, whose last day on the job is Friday, University of Maine President Paul Ferguson announced in a news release Tuesday.
Woodcock, UMaine’s associate athletic director for development, said the reason the timing is so good for him is because Maine football coach Jack Cosgrove has done a great job, Red Gendron has come on board as the men’s hockey coach, the women’s soccer team had a great year and the field hockey team had a good season.
In September, after three years of service, Abbott announced he would return as chief of staff to Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a position he held from 1997-2009. Abbott’s UMaine contract ran through December.
Woodcock, who captained the golf team at Maine, said the athletic department’s “financial stability is going to be a priority through our endowments. We want to put ourselves in the best position to be successful going forward.”
He is “excited” about the opportunity but said he is not interested in the full-time job and is a member of the athletic director’s search committee.
Woodcock said the committee hopes to “move quickly” and appoint a new athletic director as soon as possible.
He also wants to unify the athletic department.
“I’m going to continue to work hard and make sure everyone is on the same page,” said the 36-year-old Woodcock. “We have a lot of great things going on right now. We also have our challenges. We want to embrace the things we do well and improve on the things we don’t do well.”
Ferguson said Woodcock brings “a firm understanding and commitment to Black Bear athletics and a strong relationship with current Black Bear coaches, staff, students and donors. Seth is well known for his strong work ethic and effective interpersonal skills.”
Woodcock was named associate athletic director for development in 2012. Prior to joining UMaine, he was a major gift officer and campaign officer for Maine Medical Center in Portland for a decade.
“He loves the athletic program, he loves the university and has done a very good job in the development office,” Abbott said. “He is well-respected within the department and well-known to our supporters.”
Woodcock said he will have an “open-door policy” and intends to meet with the coaches on a regular basis.
“I want to build a team … from the folks who take care of the facilities to the president,” he said.
Woodcock insisted that he will not shy away from tough decisions.
“Seth is very capable of making those hard decisions,” said Abbott.
The national search is underway for the next permanent athletics director, and candidates are expected to visit campus later this fall. The search committee will provide names of recommended candidates to Ferguson with the intention of filling the position in 2014.
Abbott said he “loved” being the athletic director.
“It has been a great job,” he said. “It has been very exciting for me to be part of a program I grew up with.”
He said he has been “very pleased with a lot of the things we’ve been able to do the last three years.”
They include the upgrades to the facilities, particularly the $15 million Memorial Gym and field house renovation project; the arrangement with the new Cross Insurance Center in Bangor to hold most of the men’s and women’s basketball games there and forming a relationship with local high schools and the Maine Principals’ Association to host games on campus, including state championship contests.
“I’m very pleased with the Memorial Gym [and field house] project. It is so heavily used by the community, as well as by us on campus, the upgrade will be great,” said Abbott.
He called the Cross Insurance Center “a beautiful new arena” and said having their basketball games there is a “great fit.”
Abbott’s tenure was also marked by his decision to fire high-profile men’s hockey coach Tim Whitehead and women’s basketball coach Cindy Blodgett.
“Those were hard decisions. I didn’t enjoy it. But it was something I had to do, and I believe I made the right decisions. I’m real happy with the coaches I’ve brought in here. They’ve made an immediate impact.”
Woodcock, a 1999 UMaine graduate who lives in Windham, will live in Orono during his interim appointment. He has been tasked to address several priority issues in staff and budget management, strategic planning and donor development.
He is the son of Chandler Woodcock, the commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, who was the Republican candidate for governor in 2006, losing to John Baldacci. Chandler Woodcock was also the head girls basketball coach at Farmington’s Mt. Blue High School and an assistant women’s basketball coach at the University of Maine at Farmington.
Seth Woodcock played soccer at the University of Maine at Farmington and played soccer and basketball at Mt. Blue.