Orono, Maine — Maria Lewis, head coach of the University of Maine women’s ice hockey team, was placed on paid administrative leave Monday pending an investigation focusing on potential personnel and NCAA compliance issues, the school announced in a news release Tuesday.
UMaine personnel issues are confidential, according to the release.
The NCAA has been notified that the university is investigating possible compliance concerns. Among the issues being investigated are whether NCAA bylaws restricting the number of hours student-athletes spend in activities directed or supervised by coaching staff were violated.
UMaine athletics director Steve Abbott said he cannot discuss the case and said all inquiries must be directed to Margaret Nagle, UMaine’s Senior Director of Public Relations and Operations in the Division of Marketing and Communications.
“This statement is all we have at this time,” Nagle said Tuesday night. “We are early in the investigation and have no other details to report.”
She did not respond to questions about whether UMaine has appointed an acting or interim head coach, or who is heading up the university’s internal investigation into the situation.
Attempts to reach Lewis were unsuccessful.
The 37-year-old Lewis is in her fourth season at UMaine. She received a three-year contract extension, effective July 1, 2012, which takes her through June 30, 2015. She earns $45,000 per year.
Lewis has guided the Black Bears to a 34-52-15 record (.411) in three seasons. That includes a 5-24-4 mark last winter.
She was a candidate for the head coaching position at the University of Vermont in April 2012, but decided to remain at UMaine after talking with UMaine President Paul Ferguson and Abbott.
At that time, Lewis questioned UMaine’s commitment to the women’s hockey program and her desire to provide student-athletes with, “the Division I experience they deserve.”
In 2012, Lewis’s salary was lower than those of Vermont’s assistant coaches and the outgoing head coach had been earning a reported $106,000.
UMaine had a breakout season under Lewis during 2010-2011, posting a 17-11-6 overall record and an 11-8-2 Hockey East mark, both of which tied or surpassed school records.
Lewis was named the Hockey East Co-Coach of the Year after leading the Black Bears into the Hockey East quarterfinals.
UMaine opens its regular season at Boston College on Oct. 6.
Lewis was a volunteer assistant at Maine during the 1999-2000 season before serving as an assistant coach at Mercyhurst College (Pa.) and the University of North Dakota.
At Mercyhurst, she helped recruit Canadian Olympian Meghan Agosta, who went on to become the nation’s leading career point-getter (303) and goal scorer (157).
Lewis is a 1999 graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology with a bachelor of science in business management with a concentration in psychology. She received her master’s degree in organizational leadership from Mercyhurst College in 2002.