Former Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi is keeping busy these days. Besides his duties as a fundraiser and teaching classes at the University of Minnesota, Maturi will go to China at the end of the week to teach at three Chinese universities about the role of athletics at American colleges and universities.
In addition to that exciting trip, Maturi was recently appointed a member of the prestigious NCAA Committee on Infractions.
So how did Maturi end up on a nine-day trip to China?
“The chair of the department that I’m teaching in here at the university happens to be Chinese,” Maturi said. “He has a good relationship with some of the universities there and he asked me if I wanted to go and I said that I would be delighted. I’m really excited about it.
“I’ve never been there before and probably would never get there any other way, so I’m excited.”
Maturi was thrilled with his appointment to the infractions committee.
“I think it’s quite an honor and I’m very flattered by it,” he said. “I’m one of the committee members that will assign the sanctions for institutions when they violate the rules.
“I think there’s about four or five meetings a year. … You go for two or three days, four or five times. There’s a lot of reading of materials when you’re back home.”
About his new duties with the University of Minnesota, he said: “I am loving teaching and I’m really enjoying it. It’s back to my roots, what I did for 20 years. I’m enjoying it a lot.”
Maturi was asked about the recent controversy on how the university handled the signing of women’s basketball coach Pam Borton to a two-year extension that wasn’t announced, but he said he didn’t want to comment on it. He did say that he signed six or seven coaches to extensions before he left his athletic director position.
“I think last spring I signed at least seven of them,” he said. “I couldn’t tell you which ones, but we went over every one of the contracts and every coach, and I think we extended six or seven of them.”
He added: “I’m still the biggest Gopher fan and still go to most of the games. Hopefully Tubby [Smith] can end [this season] on a positive note, Pam can, the hockey teams can. It’s been a pretty good winter for the most part.”
As for Smith’s ability as a coach, Maturi added: “That is not even debatable. He’s a wonderful human being, which is even more important, as you know.”
De Vries ready to help
While there has been a lot of talk about the Twins’ starting pitching situation in the offseason and during spring training, little has been said about Cole De Vries, who has pitched four scoreless innings with four strikeouts this spring.
Last season De Vries was called up and went 5-5 with a 4.11 ERA in 87⅔ innings pitched.
“I’m hoping I can step in this year and help them figure out that they don’t need that much pitching,” said the former Gopher.
De Vries said he believes the experience he got last year will help him.