Former Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi is keeping busy these days. Besides his duties as a fundraiser and teaching classes at the University of Minnesota, Maturi will go to China at the end of the week to teach at three Chinese universities about the role of athletics at American colleges and universities.
In addition to that exciting trip, Maturi was recently appointed a member of the prestigious NCAA Committee on Infractions.
So how did Maturi end up on a nine-day trip to China?
“The chair of the department that I’m teaching in here at the university happens to be Chinese,” Maturi said. “He has a good relationship with some of the universities there and he asked me if I wanted to go and I said that I would be delighted. I’m really excited about it.
“I’ve never been there before and probably would never get there any other way, so I’m excited.”
Maturi was thrilled with his appointment to the infractions committee.
“I think it’s quite an honor and I’m very flattered by it,” he said. “I’m one of the committee members that will assign the sanctions for institutions when they violate the rules.
“I think there’s about four or five meetings a year. … You go for two or three days, four or five times. There’s a lot of reading of materials when you’re back home.”
About his new duties with the University of Minnesota, he said: “I am loving teaching and I’m really enjoying it. It’s back to my roots, what I did for 20 years. I’m enjoying it a lot.”
Maturi was asked about the recent controversy on how the university handled the signing of women’s basketball coach Pam Borton to a two-year extension that wasn’t announced, but he said he didn’t want to comment on it. He did say that he signed six or seven coaches to extensions before he left his athletic director position.
“I think last spring I signed at least seven of them,” he said. “I couldn’t tell you which ones, but we went over every one of the contracts and every coach, and I think we extended six or seven of them.”
He added: “I’m still the biggest Gopher fan and still go to most of the games. Hopefully Tubby [Smith] can end [this season] on a positive note, Pam can, the hockey teams can. It’s been a pretty good winter for the most part.”
As for Smith’s ability as a coach, Maturi added: “That is not even debatable. He’s a wonderful human being, which is even more important, as you know.”
De Vries ready to help
While there has been a lot of talk about the Twins’ starting pitching situation in the offseason and during spring training, little has been said about Cole De Vries, who has pitched four scoreless innings with four strikeouts this spring.
Last season De Vries was called up and went 5-5 with a 4.11 ERA in 87⅔ innings pitched.
“I’m hoping I can step in this year and help them figure out that they don’t need that much pitching,” said the former Gopher.
De Vries said he believes the experience he got last year will help him.
“I think a lot of what being a major league pitcher is all about is getting the experience and learning how to pitch to different big-time hitters and figuring all that kind of stuff out,” he said. “I think the biggest thing I learned is that I can compete very well at the major league level, and I’m going to take that confidence into [this] year and hopefully have an even better season. I think just minimize a couple of long balls I gave up, get that down. I think if I can manage that a little bit better, the year will take care of itself.
“There’s some opportunities open on the team and I think it will be a great position for myself. Definitely it’s going to be a new situation [at his first major league spring training]. Spring training is going to be longer and something that I think is going to be a lot of fun.”
Gray at NFL combine
Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave says Gophers quarterback MarQueis Gray did well at the NFL combine in Indianapolis last week, especially in his team interviews.
“He did well at the combine, didn’t hurt his stock at all, and I know everyone enjoyed getting to know him all that much more,” Musgrave said.
“I know he did a good job in the interviews, which is an important part of the combine. He made a good impression on people.”
Musgrave said teams are still trying to decide which position would suit Gray best in the NFL.
“That’s what all 32 teams are trying to ascertain right now is where he might fit best. We’re going to keep doing work on him, we’ve watched a lot of film on him and he’s had a good career [at Minnesota].
“[What position would work best for Gray] remains to be seen. I know all the teams will test him and watch his film and try to project him in a certain role at the next level.”
• Bob Stein, an All-America at the University of Minnesota and an outstanding linebacker with four NFL teams including the Vikings, is a candidate for the College Football Hall of Fame. Stein qualifies because he was not only an outstanding athlete but a national scholar-athlete. Stein was the first team president of the Timberwolves.
• Former Hopkins wide receiver Andre McDonald is currently not on the Gophers football roster while he works out some personal problems, but Gophers coach Jerry Kill said he believes those will be resolved and, when that happens, McDonald will be welcomed back to the team.
• Three University of Minnesota students, after working out for the Gophers football coaches, have been added as walk-ons. They are defensive back Alex Starks of Plainfield North in Illinois; redshirt sophomore wide receiver Aaron Marmer, who transferred from the Air Force Academy after playing at Menasha (Wis.) High School, and Gophers javelin thrower Logan Connors, who is a sophomore quarterback out of Corvallis, Mont., and Diablo Valley (Calif.) Community College.
• Former Hopkins running back Terrell Sinkfield, who was a receiver at Northern Iowa, was timed at an unbelievable 4.19 seconds in the 40-yard dash at pro day workouts at the University of Minnesota on Monday. There is some question about the accuracy of the clock that timed Sinkfield and it is being checked. He also ran a 4.27 and a 4.44, stumbling on the last attempt.
• Torii Hunter Jr., the son of the former Twins outfielder, suffered a broken leg last month but he is still going to Notre Dame as a wide receiver next year.
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