Teague takes up the issue of improving facilities for Gophers

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 28, 2013 - 6:32 PM
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Norwood Teague.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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The Gophers are getting closer to unveiling their vision for a major overhaul to their facilities for football, basketball and other sports.

Athletics director Norwood Teague said Thursday that the department's strategic facilities plan should be completed by mid-April. After that, department officials will begin a statewide tour to drum up fundraising. The eventual cost, Teague said, could be anywhere from $80 million to $125 million, but with some of the most outmoded facilities in the Big Ten, the university is trying to close the gap.

"If it's too expensive, we'll have to cut back in areas," Teague said. "But right now, with construction costs being pretty favorable, it's different than it was five years ago."

Teague said the money can be raised through fundraising and the sale of bonds. He reiterated that a basketball practice facility is a need instead of a want.

"Money doesn't grow on trees, and I know with the state budgets and things like that, we want to be very smart about what we do," Teague said.

No talk about Tubby

In a wide-ranging 33-minute session with reporters, Teague headed off questions about men's basketball coach Tubby Smith by saying his policy is not to address the status of coaches during the season. Teague, however, did make it clear that one priority is raising football coach Jerry Kill's salary, which ranks last in the Big Ten, at about $1.2 million.

"We've got to get him up," Teague said. "Because when you're in the bottom of the league -- and you're the bottom, by far, -- that's an issue. So we've got to work hard to do that, and Jerry feels good."

Teague said he's also determined to keep the salaries of Kill's assistants competitive, saying the football staff's continuity is one of its strengths.

Etc.

Other thoughts from Teague:

• On potential Williams Arena upgrades: "I think we would want to add on amenities there. I don't feel like we need to do a whole lot to the inner bowl. I just think it's too classic, and it's too historical, too much a part of the state."

• On football scheduling: Teague said the Big Ten likely is heading toward a nine-game conference schedule. He said talk of Big Ten teams dropping FCS opponents from future schedules was only that -- talk -- and not a firm decision.

• On continued Big Ten expansion: "It seems like we're in a little bit of a lull right now. Will we have a power conference with 16 teams? We might. Because everybody has to take care of themselves."

• On his communication with University President Eric Kaler: "I've been working with him a lot, and he's been terrific. ... He understands the visceral connection between athletics and the academic mission of the university. ... He was so excited the other night. He told me he wanted to run out on the floor after we [beat Indiana]."

• On potentially adding or cutting from the list of 25 Gophers sports teams: "There could be a time that could change, but I think it would be more of an addition than subtraction. ... [Adding lacrosse] is mentioned all the time. We'll look at it, but it doesn't mean it will happen any time soon."

• On whether he met with Smith after the Indiana win. "No because I was in about 30 meetings [Wednesday]. I hugged him in the locker room, but that's about all."

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