Jack Cosgrove has barely had time to unpack the box with all of his office supplies, but already has bright ideas for the future of the University of Maine athletics. It was announced last week Cosgrove would be leaving the football program to take an administrative position in the athletic department.
Cosgrove, still known as “Coach” to many, now has a new title: Senior Associate Director of Athletics. He will be working closely with Athletic Director Karlton Creech to improve Maine’s Division I sports programs.
While the decision and announcement were abrupt, the planning behind the scenes had been months in the making.
“We met in May to discuss his contract as football coach, that was the intent all along really,” Creech said. “He’s had a great career here as the football coach so my first thought was that we needed to extend his contract here as coach.”
The meeting was meant to discuss Cosgrove’s contract options, as his contract expired at the end of the season. Creech also mentioned the senior associate director position as a backup option, and it soon became one that Cosgrove strongly considered.
“We talked about other opportunities, and ways that he could help the department and the university. We got to a point where he was interested in a different opportunity and we certainly welcome him in that role,” Creech said. “He’s going to do a lot to help us. He can help every program, not just football.”
After months had gone by and the football season ended, Cosgrove made the decision to accept the administrative position. It all developed rapidly, but that was something Cosgrove was accustomed to.
“Being a football coach, you go through two-minute drill, through 40-second clocks. You get used to making decisions a little quicker than perhaps other people in other walks of life,” Cosgrove said about his decision-making process.
“The University and Maine athletics were in a no-lose situation; we were either going to have Jack Cosgrove as the football coach, which would have been great, but now we have him in a new role where he’s going to have a tremendous positive impact,” Creech added.
Cosgrove’s passion for UMaine and the athletic programs is one of many reasons why he was selected for the job.
“I think we have something that’s truly special and unique here. I always have,” Cosgrove said. “Anybody who knows me knows that I’m pretty passionate about the University of Maine and what it can offer to all student athletes.”
Cosgrove is also excited about the growth of the athletic programs at Maine as well as Creech’s leadership. They believe that together they can develop programming for the coaches and athletes that could increase the value of the athletic experience.
These options include running leadership classes for the student athletes, as well as mentoring and assisting the other coaches. This would include taking on some of the recruitment and fundraising duties, which would allow the coaches to focus more on coaching their own teams.
“He’s now going to have the time and energy to focus on all our programs and help all those programs and coaches be better at what they do,” Creech commented on Cosgrove’s new role. “I can’t begin to imagine the impact he will have when he can help all our programs and coaches get better.”
Cosgrove’s team however, was left without a coach. They were informed of the decision on Tuesday, November 24, though many of the players had already left for home because of the holiday.
After coaching the Black Bears for 23 years, Cosgrove has developed a legendary status in Maine athletics. Despite his stature within the department and on campus, he did not want the announcement to be about him.
“There was an abruptness to it. It was like ‘what?’ I didn’t want to make it a big, emotional, about me thing. It was just the facts,” Cosgrove said. “[The players] were like ‘Ok Coach.’ I shook a lot of hands and hugged a lot of guys, and we moved on.”
Cosgrove admits that he will miss aspects of coaching, but has not felt the effects of those feelings due to the amount of work that needs to be done.
“I think that the on the field coaching part of it, I’m sure will be difficult when it comes time to see others go out. Because there’s nothing like the escape to the field for practice,” Cosgrove said.
Despite not having the title of “coach” he is still able to perform many coaching tasks. He is especially passionate about interacting with the student athletes, something that he continues to do.
“It’s still coaching. I’m still working with coaches and student athletes. The label is administrator but I still feel like I’m doing a coach’s type of things,” Cosgrove said. “I’ve always liked the interaction and relationships that come about with the student athletes…I don’t think I’ve lost that, I’m still here. They still call me ‘Coach Cos.’”
While he still might be called “Coach Cos,” his position still needs to be filled. Creech and Cosgrove both sit on the committee that has been tasked with hiring a new head coach.
In the interim, Defensive Coordinator Joe Harasymiak will take over the head coaching duties.
While these changes to the program might have shaken things up, both Creech and Cosgrove are enthusiastic about the future of the athletic programs at Maine.
Creech described Maine’s future as “optimistic” following the growth and development of many of the teams in short periods of time. He also believes that Cosgrove is the best person on staff to fill the role he is in for the advancement of the program and the department.
“If we were looking for someone to fill this role, there’s no better candidate than Coach Cos,” Creech said. “I couldn’t be happier. I’m so excited for what he is going to do for Maine athletics. I couldn’t be happier with his decision, and I think it’s going to make us all better.”