Sid Hartman: Maturi not in favor of paying U athletes

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 12, 2011 - 12:00 AM

The Gophers athletic director says student-athletes get a reward of tremendous value in their scholarship.

There has been a drive by some college football and basketball coaches to create a salary for players in addition to the scholarship they receive.

The theory is that college programs make a lot of money for the schools, and the athletes should get some of it.

One athletic director who is 100 percent opposed to the idea of paying college athletes is the Gophers' Joel Maturi.

"I think we pay for it by giving tuition, fees, room, board and books, which has a tremendous value," Maturi said. "I think it's far more complicated than that. I don't know where the money would come from, I don't know how you would determine who gets what money, is it just revenue-driven sports?

"Is it just people that play in the games or do you include the reserves as well? It's a complicated issue. I think that if the kids leave the university with their degree, they are leaving with something that's going to impact them for the rest of their lives. If they don't leave here with their degree, then it's not good for us and it's not good for them. But I'm against paying."

Maturi said the University of Minnesota does provide money to student-athletes based on need, an amount that can account for as much as $4,000 to $5,000, and they don't have to repay it.

Maturi said what has happened is that college athletics has become a big business in the sports of football and men's basketball.

"There's a lot of money there and we, as an institution, are making significant dollars because of the efforts of these young people, and as a result there's a belief that, you know what, they're helping us make it, therefore they should receive some of the funds that are being made," Maturi said.

"The difference between us and the professional sports is, no one here at the University of Minnesota is putting a dime in their pocket because of the monies that these young people are helping us make. The monies that they make help us support the other, in our case, 22 programs that don't make enough money to support themselves. As a result that's why we are dependent upon the revenues that are generated by football, men's basketball and men's hockey programs, and additional TV and radio and sponsorship rights that go with it."

The budget for Gophers athletics was $76 million last year and it will go up to $78 million this year, Maturi said. One reason it will go up is that tuition for outstate students, including athletes, will go up by $1,000 next fall. Still, the Gophers athletic department has been able to avoid losing money for some time.

At Minnesota, the athletic department pays tuition, books, etc., for each and every athlete, while at other Big Ten schools, some or all of the costs are picked up by the administration. The athletic department does get some help from the administration, but that has been cut from $10 million to less than $2 million since Maturi became athletic director in 2002.

Vikings not in danger

Having known Tim Leiweke since his days in marketing with the Timberwolves when they originated, I have a good relationship with the president of Anschutz Entertainment Group, and believe me, the Vikings are not on the top of the list of teams he feels he can move to Los Angeles when a stadium is built.

While in the Twin Cities a couple of weeks ago, Leiweke made it clear that Oakland, Jacksonville, St. Louis, San Diego and possibly Buffalo are the teams more apt to wind up in Los Angeles, which has been without a team since the Rams and Raiders departed after the 1994 season.

Leiweke's big interest in visiting with Vikings owners is to get to manage the Ramsey County stadium if it comes through, just like AEG is involved with Target Center.

Jottings

• One thing new Gophers football coach Jerry Kill won't do is allow any of his former players from Northern Illinois to transfer to Minnesota. No doubt there had to be players who were willing to sit out a year as a transfer to play for the maroon and gold. "I don't do those things," said Kill when asked he would accept any players from Northern Illinois.

• Kill's recent tour of the state took him to Hutchinson, Willmar, Mankato, Red Wing, Rochester (Byron) and Owatonna. There is only one player on the Gophers roster from all of those cities combined. That would be Patrick Sveum, a senior linebacker from Rochester Century. Maybe that's one reason why the Gophers haven't been very successful in recent years. Kill will make a seventh trip to Brainerd, and there are no players from Brainerd on the roster, either.

• The Gophers got two commitments for 2012 over the past week in defensive back Dinero Moss from Piper High School in Sunrise, Fla., and wide receiver Isaac Fruechte, who played for Rochester Community and Technical College this past year but won't play this fall so he will have three years of eligibility remaining. He is a 2010 graduate of Caledonia High School.

• It's official: the Gophers men's basketball team has added Southern California to the home schedule, with the game to be played Dec. 3. The Trojans will join Virginia Tech as major conference opponents from outside the Big Ten to visit Williams Arena this upcoming season.

• Brock Lesnar has had a good recovery from a second operation for diverticulitis, but the former Gophers NCAA champion wrestler had to delay his mixed martial arts bout with top contender Junior Dos Santos, which had been scheduled for Saturday night at UFC 131. Lesnar will have time to promote his new book titled "Death Clutch." Dos Santos beat Lesnar's replacement, Shane Carwin, on Saturday night. ... Meanwhile, Cole Konrad, another former Gophers NCAA champion, is scheduled to defend his Bellator heavyweight championship belt Aug. 20 against an opponent to be named.

• Former Gophers baseball players Nathan Hanson and Derek McCallum are in the Twins system at Class A Fort Myers after being moved there recently from Beloit. Hanson is hitting .267 with a .327 on-base percentage, and has 12 doubles, four home runs, 29 RBI and 24 runs scored. McCallum is hitting .280 through nine games and has two RBI and three runs scored. ... St. Thomas product Matt Schuld also is pitching for the Miracle and leads the team with 59 1/3 innings pitched after he went six innings in a no-decision Saturday night. Schuld has a 3-1 record with a 4.40 ERA in 11 starts. He has struck out 38 while walking 19.

• St.Olaf has had players drafted by the majors in the past, and this year it was righthander Ben Hughes by Colorado in the 10th round.

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. • shartman@startribune.com

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