Joel Maturi didn't ask San Diego State's permission before discussing the Gophers' coaching vacancy with Aztecs coach Brady Hoke last month. It's not clear whether SDSU athletic director Jim Sterk was offended -- but at least one former Gopher was.
Adam Kelly, who still holds four Gophers punting records from his 1984-85 Minnesota career, sent an e-mail this week to eight Temple University officials, including athletic director Bill Bradshaw, warning that Maturi might be in pursuit of Owls coach Al Golden.
"The former players at the University of Minnesota would like to offer our apologies in advance if our Athletic Director Joel Maturi attempts to contact your football coach without your AD's knowledge," the e-mail read. "As much as your coach is GREAT, our former players believe that ADs should be contacted and asked for permission."
The e-mail went on to assert that "Maturi did not have the decency to call" Sterk, and that former Gophers "do not support this type of hiring process."
Kelly, an insurance executive in Edina, said he and a group of other former players were dismayed by Maturi's conduct, especially when a San Diego newspaper columnist sharply criticized him for the visit while the Aztecs still had a game remaining in the regular season.
"What Minnesota has done stinks. It's unethical. It's immoral. ... Just because Minnesota's [season] is lost doesn't mean a guy like Maturi has the right to interrupt a successful season somewhere else," wrote Union-Tribune columnist Nick Canepa, though he also noted that Sterk "didn't even seem perturbed."
But Kelly was.
"I was embarrassed as a Golden Gopher football player by the athletic department breaking the cardinal rule of these searches -- contacting the athletic director first, especially during the season," Kelly said.
But couldn't an e-mail to another school be interpreted as an attempt to sabotage Maturi's search for a new coach?
That wasn't his intention, Kelly insisted. "I have no knowledge of who they're going after," he said. "It's ridiculous."
Maturi and university President Robert Bruininks each declined, through spokesmen, to comment on the e-mail, and a Temple athletic department spokeswoman said the school does not comment on coaching searches. Last month, Maturi said regarding former players who have publicly complained that the man who hired Tim Brewster should not be in charge of finding his successor, "I am disappointed at what, I assume, are well-intended people who are actually making an important process more challenging."
The e-mail to Temple is the latest example of the friction between Maturi and the former players. A group of them set up a website, savegopherfootball.com, to air their grievances over Maturi's job performance, and took out advertisements critical of Maturi in the campus newspaper Minnesota Daily. Kelly included a link to the site in his e-mail to Temple officials.
"Every time we as former players make suggestions, we're attacked. They employ Chicago-style politics, so to speak," Kelly said. "Is it wrong to question embarrassing university tactics? No."