Norwood Teague will have plenty of tasks to tackle immediately after being formally approved as the Gophers' new athletic director in May and taking over July 1. Here are some of them, along with relevant quotes from Monday.
1. A contract extension for men's basketball coach Tubby Smith has sounded imminent in recent weeks. Now that Teague is in place, does it officially mean Smith will get a new deal? Not yet, but it's still close. Said Smith: "It's right around the corner."
2. Smith wants a basketball practice facility and considers it a priority. Teague led a campaign to build a $10 million facility as AD at Virginia Commonwealth. Finding the money could be among the first tests of Teague's fundraising muscle. Said Teague: "I've heard it a lot from the coaches today. It's something I really have to dive in and evaluate. Everyone has their own opinion about what facilities need what."
3. Contracts for nearly 40 percent of premium seating accounts at TCF Bank Stadium were three-year deals that were up for renewal after 2011. Attendance (and related revenue) is an issue that needs to be addressed. Said Teague: "Am I saying we're going to pack the stadium the first three games? No, I'm not saying that. But we're going to put things in place and work hard to position ourselves to have that happen eventually."
4. Premium seating is scheduled to start next season in men's basketball and hockey, potentially bringing in more revenue -- at the risk of alienating some fans. Said Teague: "I've had situations when people are disenchanted and have said 'the heck with it,' and you bring them back. But it doesn't happen overnight. You'd be surprised at the creativity it takes."
5. University President Eric Kaler has said the school will need to look at the "financial viability" of maintaining all 25 sports. That largely becomes a question for the new AD. Said Teague: "I feel strongly about having a broad-based program, especially in the Big Ten. ... We will work hard to fund them at the highest level. I believe strongly in 25 sports [being] right in the wheelhouse of a good number."
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