It’s difficult not to like UMaine head football coach Jack Cosgrove and it’s more difficult not to agree that he is the logical choice as the next athletic director for the school.
What is most difficult, however, is to assume Cosgrove should be given the job by just what is based on his resume.
Yes, it is an impressive one. He enjoyed at fine career as quarterback for UMaine before graduating in 1978 and went on to earn his master’s degree in educational administration from the school in ’81. He’s in his 18th season as head coach of the Black Bears, where he has established a highly competitive program which has experienced consistent success on the conference level and appeared in several NCAA tourneys amid tough economic and geographic limitations.
Now Cosgrove needs a game plan.
The University of Maine athletic program faces ongoing challenges and a new athletic director should have plans in place to address them.
Some of those challenges are building competitive teams that contend for championships, successful fundraising for facilities and scholarships, budgeting the appropriate funds for each sport and ensuring a strong coaching staff is in place. Other challenges include monitoring academic progress of athletes while demanding high standards and working with other UMaine department heads to help maintain and grow the institution’s educational values.
The first challenge of building competitive teams to contend for championships may be the most daunting one. UMaine football competed in the NCAA tourney in 2008, but men’s hockey hasn’t been there since the 2006-07 season. Maine’s other high-profile sports are in a championship drought as the baseball team hasn’t won a league title since ’06, the women’s basketball team last captured an America East crown in ’04 and the men’s basketball team has never won an America East championship.
The other pivotal challenge of being able to raise money is one that influenced the hiring of Maine’s two previous athletic directors, Blake James and Patrick Nero. The new AD will have to address the continued fundraising for Memorial Gym renovations and Alfond Arena improvements.
Hiring good coaches is another key component to the AD’s job and could be another difficult one for Cosgrove to implement as he may find himself in the position of having to fire head coaches he has worked with for the past several seasons.
In dealing with the other challenges of balancing a budget, maintaining academic standards and working with the university community, Cosgrove will need plans that show he understands the university’s financial pressures, has management skills, and that he realizes the position of athletics in an academic environment.
If Cosgrove wants to be the next athletic director at UMaine, then he should be ready to address these challenges in full detail when it comes time to fill the post, which will probably coincide with the departure of Maine President Robert Kennedy next June. Newly appointed interim AD Steve Abbott has said he doesn’t want the position on a full-time basis.
Through his experience in building and maintaining the football program, Cosgrove has shown he knows how to meet a challenge and succeed. He possesses a great work ethic and leadership ability.
Now it’s time to discover if has a plan to take those skills from the sidelines to behind a desk.