Men's basketball: Monson out; Gophers regroup

  • Article by: JEFF SHELMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 1, 2006 - 6:11 AM

With the Gophers men's basketball team going downhill, coach Dan Monson accepts a buyout package, and assistant Jim Molinari takes over on an interim basis.

Dan Monson was an optimist on Oct. 26 when the Minnesota men's basketball coach talked glowingly about the future of the Gophers before the start of the 2006-07 season.

He maintained that the program was in the best shape it had been in the eight years since it was gutted by an academic fraud scandal under then-coach Clem Haskins.

Thursday -- only 35 days later and seven games into the season -- Monson accepted a buyout package worth more than $1.3 million, ending his tenure as Gophers coach. The Gophers have a 2-5 record, including five consecutive losses. Assistant coach Jim Molinari will serve as interim coach the rest of the season.

After an era in which games drew near-capacity crowds to Williams Arena, attendance has slipped under Monson, especially in recent years. The Gophers' home average in 2005-06 was 11,536, one of their lowest totals since 1970.

Men's basketball has long been a crucial moneymaker for the University of Minnesota athletic department, with profits used to help the school's nonrevenue programs.

Athletic Director Joel Maturi would not say what impact attendance played in the decision, saying only, "It's a situation where I do believe the program is not in the position that we want it to be."

Monson was the coach at Gonzaga before taking the Minnesota job. He inherited a program saddled with NCAA sanctions, including recruiting restrictions and scholarship reductions because of the academic scandal. Monson has routinely been credited with cleaning up the program's image and improving the program's academic standing.

But in the end, the results on the court weren't enough to allow Monson to retain his job. He earned more than $5 million in total salary, including shoe contract money, in his seven full seasons at Minnesota.

"I didn't accomplish what I wanted to [on] the court, but I came here to restore respect in other areas," Monson said at Thursday's news conference. "I feel like I did what I was asked to come here to do, and with that I have no apologies for where the program is. I think it is a program with great respect off the court. ... It's time for somebody else to make the next step and that's to have more success on the court."

Doomed by a slow start

Maturi had permission from university President Robert Bruininks to fire Monson in March after the Gophers finished 10th in the Big Ten. There was little question that the Gophers would have to show improvement this season for him to keep his job.

But an exhibition loss to Division II Winona State foreshadowed the final stretch of Monson's tenure when the Gophers lost five games in nine days. Included in that stretch were losses to Marist, Southern Illinois and Montana, all schools with a lower athletic profile than Big Ten member Minnesota.

Wednesday's blowout loss to Clemson prompted a Thursday morning meeting between Maturi and Monson during which a decision was made that a change was needed.

"We had hoped that the program would make a move in the right direction after we made the decision that Dan was going to continue as our basketball coach," Maturi said. "We just felt as if it was best to accept Dan's resignation at this time."

Maturi and Monson met with players Thursday afternoon. The meeting was described as emotional.

"They have a lot of games left to play, we're only seven games into a season and you know, quite frankly, I told them that if they'd played a little better we wouldn't have had this meeting," Maturi said. "We're all a little bit at fault."

Neither Molinari nor Gophers players were made available to reporters. Larry McKenzie, the former Minneapolis Henry High School coach and father of Gophers guard Lawrence McKenzie, said his son had mixed emotions.

"On the one hand, he had high expectations and they let coach Monson down," Larry McKenzie said. "They knew what they were facing and feel they let coach down. But it also allows this team to regroup and get a fresh start."

  • related content

  • Talk: Share your thoughts about Monson's record

    Thursday November 30, 2006

  • Audio: Dan Monson resigns

    Thursday November 30, 2006

    Minnesota Gophers basketball Coach Dan Monson resigned today. He and Athletic Director Joel Maturi explained...

  • Souhan: Maturi is part of the problem

    Friday December 1, 2006

    There must be some explanation for the U athletic director's ineptness. Could it be a shadowy Wisconsin connection that always seems to coincide with chaos?

  • Reusse: No more recycling, please

    Friday December 1, 2006

    Players who left and returned to Minnesota made Dan Monson's tough job even more difficult.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
UCLA 57
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you favor the plan for expanded athletic facilities at the U of M?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close