Friedrich spoke with the state House higher education committee chairman, Gene Pelowski, who had some choice words for Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague’s decision to buy out former Gophers coach Tubby Smith for $2.5 million.
Pelowski – who called the move “obscene” in a Rochester Post-Bulletin story – hinted that the move could hurt the school's chances of receiving funding the athletic program may want for facilities in the near future because it shows there is ample money in the athletic fund.
Here’s an excerpt of what Pelowski said, which Friedrich posted:
“When we have the bonding hearings, if there is anything relating to athletics, this will be a topic of conversation. Because you’re now talking millions of dollars that are apparently available that could just as well go into buildings as paying someone not to do anything — or paying someone to do an incredibly mediocre job.”
Obviously, the Gophers have a lot of new facilities on the brain, the master blueprint of which could cost as much as $125 million and would include a long-coveted practice facility.
Teague has not stated how much money, if any, the ‘U’ would be seeking from the state, but it asking for some assistance wouldn’t come as a surprise.
However, there is of course another major spending project nearer on the horizon – hiring a coach. The Gophers will likely have to pay for a buyout of whichever coach they hire – unless it was someone like Flip Saunders – and then, of course, give the new coach a contract.
Would Teague and Co. be hesitant to go after a coach with a large buyout or give a coach a large contract because it might further damage their efforts of receiving money from the state going forward?
A source close to the search says no – that their efforts will not be impacted by this.
However, the Pelowski comments perhaps reiterate the importance of Minnesota’s major boosters being on board/excited with the new hire.
Marcus Fuller joined the Star Tribune in 2016 after 11 years covering Gophers sports – and just about every other team and league in town -- for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Before making the Twin Cities his home, Marcus spent two years in The Kansas City Star sports department. Marcus grew up in Hawaii and is a 2002 graduate of San Jose State. Follow Fuller on Twitter @Marcus_R_Fuller.