A search to find a new women’s basketball coach at the University of Maine will begin today and be completed by May or early June.

That’s the charge of a search committee named Tuesday by Athletic Director Steve Abbott.

The committee will be chaired by retired dean Robert Cobb, a 39-year veteran of academics at Maine.

“I think a good, aggressive goal would be to try and have this done in May,” said Abbott. “If it happened sooner, I’d be pleased. If it happened a little later, I wouldn’t be overly worried. The sooner, though, the sooner the program can move forward.”

Abbott, appointed as AD on March 28, fired Cindy Blodgett a day later, citing a lack of progress of the program under the former star player. The team went a program-worst 4-25 this year, and 24-94 in her four seasons.

Abbott said the committee will solicit candidates as well as accept applications. He expects the process to stretch between four and eight weeks.

“We’re looking for the right fit,” said Abbott. “That person could be a Division I assistant with some great experience at that level or a Division II or Division III head coach who had some D-I experience previously. We are open to a variety of backgrounds.”

Joining Cobb on the committee: Scott Atherley, women’s soccer coach; Josette Babineau, field hockey coach; Emily Ellis, a former Maine Hall of Fame basketball player (’85); Evie Smith, a member of the Black Bear board of advisors (’59); Professor Robert Strong, Maine’s NCAA faculty representative; and Professor David Townsend, chair of Maine’s athletic advisory board.

“The unifying thread of this group is a long and deep commitment to the University of Maine,” said Abbott. “And Bob Cobb, there just isn’t a better chair. He has a wealth of experience in athletics and running searches for this university. I was pleased he was willing to do this.”

Cobb was a dean of the College of Education and Human Development for 30 years at Maine, and played football at Springfield College.

He said he was honored to be asked to chair such an important committee.

“Athletics in many ways is a window into the university,” said Cobb. “Everything that’s done in athletics needs to be reflective of the culture of the university, and its high standards and high expectations for all of its members.”

Cobb last sat on a search committee in athletics when the university hired football coach Jack Cosgrove in 1993.

Others, like Ellis, a former standout player who works in the area as a Realtor, will take part in her first search committee.

“I’m very optimistic and excited to see what the reaction will be from a national search,” said Ellis. “I happen to be one of those people who think Maine is a great place to be. I will always have a vested interest in how things happen at Maine and I’m not going anywhere.”

The committee is expected to meet today for the first time.

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