The search for an interim athletic director at the University of Maine is moving quickly, according to university officials following meetings between President Robert Kennedy and program staff last week.

An interim AD is likely to be named before Maine’s football opener against Albany on Sept. 2, and long before the Sept. 7 departure of Blake James, who resigned last week to take a position at the University of Miami.

James’ successor is expected to hold the interim title for the duration of the school year as a national search for a permanent replacement gets under way.

“President Kennedy met last week with the coaches and some members of the athletic staff to get their perspectives on what they would like to see in an interim,” said university spokesman Joe Carr.

“He’s considering some possibilities and will be talking to people over the next several days.”

Kennedy, who plans to step down next June, will leave the decision about a permanent replacement to his successor, according to Carr.

A search committee to find a new president was named in June and will begin its work in September.

Maine is just weeks away from the start of a pivotal year. Fundraising for a $12 million plan to renovate Memorial Gym is expected to be completed in the next several months.

Several teams will be heading into seasons that will have ramifications on the future. Economic constraints continue to plague higher education.

Contract extensions will be on the table for at least one key program, women’s basketball coach Cindy Blodgett, who is in the final year of her four-year contract.

Coaches say the qualities they hope for from both an interim and full-time replacement center around an ability to lead the department through these times.

“The most important quality is a proficiency in leadership,” said Jack Cosgrove, Maine’s football coach. “I look at it being such a prominent position. And you have to be someone who understands Maine people and is passionate about being in Maine.”

“We’re the only Division I program in the state,” said baseball coach Steve Trimper. “We have a small town, but it’s a big time atmosphere.

“It’s a neat opportunity. Someone stepping in has to be aware of the importance of the University of Maine, not only athletics, but the community in general.”

Since James announced his departure, speculation on his successor has ensued.

Among the names that have been mentioned are Cosgrove, who is entering his 18th year as football coach; longtime faculty advisor George Jacobson; and Joe Roberts, an associate athletic director for external operations.

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at: [email protected]