Florida Gulf Coast University announced Thursday that it has hired Kenneth Kavanagh as its director of athletics.
Kavanagh was selected by FGCU President Wilson Bradshaw from among four finalists, including University of Maine athletic director Blake James.
Kavanagh, who is the athletic director at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., received a five-year contract at Florida Gulf Coast and will be paid an annual salary of $170,000.
James, who was informed by Bradshaw of the decision earlier in the day, said Thursday evening the FGCU opportunity was a good one and the experience positive.
“It was a very interesting process,” he said. “I think it’s a great situation that they have there, a very promising future, and that had a lot to do with my interest [in the position].”
A total of 172 candidates applied for the FGCU position and 15 of those were selected for telephone interviews. Of that group six, including James, were invited for on-campus interviews in Fort Myers.
James said he remains committed to UMaine and guiding the program through these challenging economic times.
“I think we have a great situation here,” James said. “President [Robert] Kennedy has great vision for our university and is very committed to our athletic program and I look forward to continue doing everything I can to make our program our better.”
James, 39, has been Maine’s director of athletics since July of 2005. Before that, he was senior associate athletic director for two years.
James, who has one year remaining on his UMaine contract, earned more than $144,000 in base salary during fiscal year 2008. He said improving facilities, in particular the proposed renovation of Memorial Gymnasium, is among his priorities in the coming years.
“We want to continue to generate more support for our program and do everything we can to fundraise on an annual basis and continue to do what we can do to improve our facilities and infrastructure,” James said.
“We don’t want to be sitting still. We want to improve the quality of the experience for our student-athletes,” he added.
Recently, James announced UMaine athletics would “suspend” its men’s soccer and women’s volleyball programs in an effort to meet the department’s share ($253,000) of a university-mandated overall budget reduction of $8.8 million for fiscal year 2010.