University of Maine athletic director Ken Ralph has a tall order when he and his search committee look to hire a new women’s ice hockey coach.
Not only does he have to replace former head coach Richard Reichenbach and his top assistant coach, his wife, Sara, who both resigned last week for undisclosed reasons.
But the new coach will be one of the lowest paid in Hockey East — and in the country.
The university intends to raise the salary for the new coach to try to close the gap between UMaine and the rest of the Hockey East schools. The school will have to make a significant investment to bring the salary in line with that of its competitors, as most head coaching positions at UMaine are among the lowest paid in their respective conferences.
Richard Reichenbach, who was the head coach for nine seasons, earned $69,999.96 this past season.
By comparison, University of New Hampshire coach Hilary Witt made $133,650. She is beginning her ninth season this year.
University of Vermont coach Jim Plumer made $108,771 in his 10th season in Burlington.
The only other state school in Hockey East is the University of Connecticut, where Huskies head coach Chris McKenzie made $96,541 in 2018 and was likely to be over $100,000 this past season.
Private schools don’t have to disclose salaries.
The salary is a fraction of what UMaine second-year head men’s ice hockey coach Ben Barr makes at $235,000. He is believed to be one of the the lowest paid men’s coaches in Hockey East, if not the lowest.
UNH head men’s hockey coach Mike Souza made $240,000 last season, which was his fourth behind the Wildcat bench.
Todd Woocroft, in his second season as the men’s coach at Vermont, earned $277,750.
UConn’s Mike Cavanaugh just concluded his eighth season with the Huskies and, two months ago, signed a six-year, $3.58 million contract to remain at UConn.
Most recently, UMaine raised the salary for its head football coach position. Jordan Stevens is the school’s highest-paid coach at $245,000 per year, higher than the $153,000 earned by his predecessor Nick Charlton but still dwarfed by the conference average of roughly $400,000.
Despite the discrepancy between the women’s and men’s ice hockey head coach salaries, the UMaine women’s hockey team has been more successful than the men’s in recent years.
Even though Richard Reichenbach’s record was 108-155-28 overall and 72-117-24 in Hockey East regular season play, he guided the Black Bears to berths in the Hockey East semifinals in each of the last three seasons after upsetting higher seeded quarterfinal opponents on the road.
His teams earned four semifinal berths over the past five campaigns.
The men’s hockey team hasn’t reached the Hockey East semifinals since the 2011-12 season.
Women’s ice hockey is not a revenue-producer.
Despite the women’s team’s successful recent playoff runs, the Black Bears averaged only 212.1 fans per home game this past season. There is no admission fee for women’s ice hockey games.
That number is not unusual in women’s hockey. UMaine’s closest rival, UNH, averaged 381.9 for its 16 regular season home games.
The UMaine men’s team attracted 3,605 per game, despite finishing last in Hockey East.