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University of Minnesota head football coach Jerry Kill talked about the recruits that signed to play at Minnesota earlier this month.

Jerry Holt, DML - Star Tribune

Feb. 12: Hartman: New Kill contract near; Pitino also could get bonus

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN
  • Star Tribune
  • February 22, 2014 - 5:05 PM

Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague, who apparently didn’t have any interest in the Virginia Tech AD opening as was once reported, said this week that he and the administration are working on a new contract for football coach Jerry Kill and that an announcement will be made soon.

Kill, whose contract for $1.2 million per year is one of the lowest in the Big Ten, did receive some bonuses this year because the Gophers went to the Texas Bowl. By comparison, Wisconsin football coach Gary Andersen — who was contacted by the Cleveland Browns about their head coaching job but declined to pursue it — is being paid $1.9 million, with a $100,000 raise each year.

“We’re trying to bang [Kill’s new contract] out,” Teague said. “These things take time and come down to things that are legal and certainly we want it to move faster, but we’re in good shape there. We’re going to get him right very soon.”

Men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino also could be in line for some bonuses if the Gophers continue to make a good showing.

Said Teague: “[Pitino’s] doing a great job. He’s a special guy. He knows how to run a program. As I said before, he grew up with it and those that grew up with it — I’ve seen it in the administrative realm or the coaching realm — those that had mothers or fathers that were in college athletics and were around it, they tend to be ahead of the curve. Richard grew up on the practice court with the Celtics with his dad [Louisville coach Rick Pitino], and at Kentucky shooting baskets with his brothers on the side while his dad was coaching. He’s seen it from a great coach, and he’s been a superior addition to Gopher athletics.”

I am one of many who disagreed with the firing of Tubby Smith and bringing in a young basketball coach with a lack of experience.

But the way things turned out, Teague hit the jackpot. The bigger issue will be the university’s ability to be keep Pitino once he gets a good recruiting class and consistently wins.

Fundraising update

Teague, who came from Virginia Commonwealth to become Gophers AD in April of 2012, also was asked about the status of the $190 million fundraising project to try to improve athletic facilities around campus.

“We’re finishing our fundraising feasibility study actually in the next 10 days, and things are looking good,” he said. “We’re always getting some gifts; we haven’t gone public with any of those. But we’ll make some more announcements in the coming months. Things have been very good. I’m excited about the prospects. People are responding and our feasibility study has been very positive.”

Under Teague, some facilities have been improved — such as the basketball area in the Bierman Building — to help the team until the new basketball practice facility is built.

Teague described what he tells civic groups and potential contributors. “We are pretty much concentrating on this current project of upgrading and building practice facilities.

“We don’t have enough room, and we’re not serving our kids to the level that we need to. We’re not giving them what they need in many ways to practice and excel. It’s not about just adding stuff. It’s doing a better job serving our kids. We’re focusing on what we’re doing for the practice facility, for the academic center, we’re working hard on that.”

Gophers teams have had some success lately, with the wrestlers beating No. 1 Penn State on Sunday, the men’s hockey team being No. 1 in the country until a pair of 2-1 losses to Wisconsin last week, the men’s basketball team upsetting Wisconsin and Ohio State and the football team having a winning year.

So Teague has some things to brag about in Gophers athletics under his leadership.

U recruits playing well

Carlos Morris, Nate Mason and Josh Martin are the three current recruits for Pitino’s 2014 class.

Morris is averaging 15.0 points and 5.1 rebounds per game as a 6-4 sophomore swingman for Chipola College (Marianna, Fla.), which was ranked 10th in the national junior college poll until losing three of their past four games.

Mason is a 5-10 senior point guard for Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, Fla., which recently was ranked No. 29 in the nation for high school teams and beat No. 7 Oak Hill Academy 62-53.

Martin is a 6-7 power forward at Bothell High School. His team recently defeated Newport 72-60, with Martin scoring 32 points. The Seattle Times recently ranked him the sixth-best high school player in the state of Washington.

Jottings

• The Twins are famous for their foundation that builds fields and makes many other charitable contributions, and Paul Molitor — who joined the team’s coaching staff last October — does his part. Molitor and his wife, Destini, joined Bill Austin of The Starkey Hearing Foundation from Jan. 23-28 in the Dominican Republic, where the Molitors helped fit hundreds of free hearing aids for people who have hearing impairments.

• Former Gophers goalie Alex Kangas, a Rochester native, signed a contract with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces.

• Former MSU Mankato standout Travis Morin leads the AHL in scoring with 27 goals and 41 assists in 44 games for the Texas Stars. … White Bear Lake native Eric Hartzell leads the AHL with a 1.93 goals-against average and has a .925 saves percentage in 21 games for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. … Minnetonka native Tommy Vannelli, who left the Gophers hockey team earlier this season, is fourth in scoring for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL and sixth among WHL rookies with 12 goals and 27 assists in 53 games. … For the Penticton Vees of the BCHL, Max Coatta, a Minnetonka native and MSU Mankato recruit has 14 goals and 17 assists in 44 games; Jack Ramsey, a Gophers recruit from Chanhassen, has nine goals and 14 assists in 50 games.

• St. Paul native Jordair Jett was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Week for the second week in a row. The St. Louis Billikens guard is averaging 13.2 points per game.

 

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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