Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson, the team's player representative who was in on the NFL labor negotiations, seems confident an agreement between owners and players will be reached this week.

"There was a little snag Thursday night but last I heard, they were trying to work through it this weekend and get something on paper for this week," Hutchinson said. "There's certain issues that you can't negotiate until you reform as a union. There's things you can't negotiate, any of the collective bargaining, until you're a union.

"So that's where we ran into the snag. They wanted us to reform by Tuesday, which is a logistical nightmare trying to get 1,900 players together to sign cards to reform the union. And then they were only going to give us three days to ratify the [collective bargaining agreement] ... so that was a little bit of a time restraint on getting things done."

Hutchinson said the 10-year length of the proposed agreement is fine, "but they only gave us three days to try to change the 500-page CBA from the last 10 years, so you have to give us a little bit more time than that or start working on it now or figure out a way to do it now."

The word is that the NFL players' executive committee will meet Monday in Washington to vote on the new plan, and once everything is agreed upon, there will be a conference call among the players to vote on it.

Hutchinson said he hopes things will work out so the players can report Wednesday, which has been reported by various sources.

"The league and our side were on two different ends of the spectrum on how they wanted this recertification of the union and how they wanted these terms knocked out," Hutchinson said, "so they're going to have to find a way to meet in the middle and get negotiating at the same time we're voting. You can't have all the ink dry and then we start negotiating. We don't have enough time for that."

Hutchinson was one of many local pro and amateur athletes who attended the Starkey Gala at RiverCentre in St. Paul on Sunday to raise money to help poor people get hearing aids and support Starkey owner Bill Austin.

"It's a great event for a wonderful cause," Hutchinson said. "I was supposed to go on one of the trips this March to Africa to do a mission with Bill and Sandy Austin and their crew. I couldn't go because I had player advocate meetings in Florida so I had to cancel, but we're looking forward to doing one maybe this upcoming spring and getting out and being able to help some people around the world."

Ex-Wolves coaches all around the NBA

While the Timberwolves seek a new coach, the NBA coaching landscape features many former Wolves players, executives and coaches taking over as head coaches for other organizations after having little success here.

Maybe Kurt Rambis, recently fired by the Wolves, will follow that pattern.

Tom Thibodeau coached the Chicago Bulls to the conference finals this past postseason, as did Scott Brooks with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thibodeau and Brooks were both members of the Timberwolves organization in 1991, when Thibodeau was an assistant coach under Bill Musselman and Brooks was a player.

Flip Saunders, the longest tenured coach in Wolves history (1995-2005), just finished his second season with the Washington Wizards, who have put together a great roster of young talent following their recent draft. Dwane Casey was hired as coach by the Toronto Raptors last month following his outstanding work as the head assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks in last season's march to the NBA title.

Also last month, Kevin McHale was hired by the Houston Rockets after General Manager Daryl Morey decided McHale was the right fit to help their talented young team.

Original Wolves player Sam Mitchell, who was the NBA Coach of the Year in 2006-07 with the Raptors, is an assistant coach with the New Jersey Nets. And Sidney Lowe coached the Grizzlies in Vancouver and Memphis after being fired from his position with the Wolves.

U academics improve

Lynn Holleran is completing her first year as director of the McNamara Academic Center for Gophers athletics. Last August, she replaced Mark Nelson, who is now at Bowling Green. Among her staff is Jacki Lienesch, the director of football academic advising who came from Florida State, and football academic counselor Shea'na Grigsby, who came from Northwestern. They all have done a great job helping out football, which needed a lot of academic help.

Five Gophers football players had grade-point averages of at least 3.7 last semester: defensive back Chase Haviland, linebacker Aaron Hill, quarterback Adam Lueck, offensive lineman Ryan Orton and safety Kim Royston.

Defensive end Ra'shede Hageman and cornerback Michael Carter, two players who were declared ineligible in the middle of last season because of poor academics, have turned it around in the classroom and will be eligible this fall.

Overall the entire football team had a 2.87 GPA, one of its best academic performances in years.


• The word from scouts at Target Field this week is the Twins are looking for either a righthanded hitter or a switch hitter to come off the bench and pinch hit.

• Add Larry Brown, who has been with a number of NBA teams and most recently with the Charlotte Bobcats, to the coaching candidates for the Timberwolves job. The word is that Wolves boss David Kahn and Brown have talked on the phone.

• The Gophers football team got their 17th commitment for 2012 this week, from Lake Zurich (Ill.) linebacker Jack Lynn. ... The Gophers men's golf team has signed three recruits: Charlie Braniff, the 2010 Class 3A champion from St. Cloud Tech; Kyle Beversdorf, a transfer from Northern Iowa from Wayzata; and Patrick Johnston of Orono.

• Luke Johnson of Red Wing, who set a meet record of 61 feet, 4 inches in the shot put at the University of Minnesota High School Indoor Classic in April, has signed with the Gophers. ... With Joe Russell leaving the Gophers wrestling staff to become head coach at George Mason, Brandon Eggum and Luke Becker will be the associate head coaches for the Gophers.

• Cole Konrad, the former Gophers NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion who now has a 7-0 record in mixed martial arts, will face Paul Buentello (29-13) in Bellator 48 on Aug. 20 in Uncasville, Conn. Konrad is the Bellator heavyweight champion, but this will not be a title fight.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m.