Lou Nanne Q&A: There's no reason U of M can't compete

  • Article by: DENNIS BRACKIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 27, 2014 - 12:33 AM

Lou Nanne has heard the reasons why the U can’t compete and decided: Enough is enough.

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler and athletic director Norwood Teague approached the state’s unofficial Mr. Hockey and school alum Lou Nanne late last year about becoming involved in the $190 million athletic facilities fundraising campaign.

“I said, ‘Definitely. I’d certainly love to be on your committee,’ ” Nanne responded. Kaler and Teague told him they had bigger plans, asking Nanne to chair the campaign.

Nanne reiterated his desire to be a committee member, only. The university officials persisted, and ultimately prevailed, thanks in part to Nanne’s memories of his grandfather.

“My grandfather used to have a word where, when I’d screw around and do things I shouldn’t be doing, he’d say, ‘Basta.’ B-A-S-T-A. That’s the Italian word for enough,” Nanne said. “Enough. I thought of that when they asked me. I said, ‘You know, I’ve had enough.’ I’ve had enough of hearing that the University of Minnesota can’t compete. I’ve had enough of hearing the University of Minnesota can’t recruit. I’ve had enough of hearing all these reasons why other places are going to succeed and we can’t.”

And so Nanne, at age 72, has taken on a role that he hopes will end the futility, especially in football, where the program’s last appearance in a major bowl was in 1962, by far the longest such drought of any Big Ten member. Nanne’s voice resonates with passion, leaving little doubt he’s the right man for the job because, well, he’s “a Gemini … with a lot of restless energy.”

He already has helped put in place an executive committee numbering 12 people, with room for two more, and a leadership group of 45. Nanne discussed his role in a wide-ranging interview last week at his downtown office — oh yes, he has a full-time job as Senior Managing Director for the global management asset arm of the Royal Bank of Canada.

“I’ve had the good fortune to follow the Gopher football team, and I’ve gone to these other places in the Big Ten, and I see these other places in the Big Ten and I say, ‘Why can they do it, and why can’t we?’ he said. “There’s no reason why we can’t. That’s why I got myself into this deal.”

That, and that word: Basta.

 

Q: Pretend I’m a potential donor. Tell me why this project is important and why I should contribute.

A: I think that everybody has looked at the University of Minnesota and just considered the people that donate to the University of Minnesota are alumni and the university is only involved with the alumni. Realistically speaking, the University of Minnesota is the engine that drives the state. … The University of Minnesota is the only research institution we have in the whole state, and we have to start looking at it as the jewel of the state — not just for the alumni.

 

Q: So you’re not just focused on the usual suspects, the alumni? You’re trying to expand the base of donors?

A: I don’t care if you went to Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Robert Morris, North Dakota State, whatever it is. If you’re living in the state of Minnesota, you’re benefiting from the University of Minnesota in some way … [Athletics] creates emotions, and it touches a lot of people. So you have all the different athletic things that we have here, sports that we have here, that makes it a better place for students to come. If you have better students, then you have better faculty, you get better educated people, you get better output from the total university and it makes the whole state benefit from it.

 

Q: I would imagine it’s easy to get a list of potential alumni donors, but how do you find the people you’re talking about to expand it? How do you know where to go?

A: That’s a great question, and that’s why we have the leadership council we have because there are people from different walks of life that all have different circles of friends and business involvement and they lead us to these other potential donors and that’s what we need.

 

Q: Where do you think Minnesota ranks in athletic facilities in the Big Ten?

A: [Big Ten Commissioner] Jim Delaney was just in town and met with my leadership council and he told us we’re last, which we knew. I’m not making it up. … I’m embarrassed by it, I’m embarrassed by the fact that we have so much going on in the state of Minnesota and we have great facilities for professional sports — which I love, I’m happy for that — but at the same time I see our students go and study in the hallways of Bierman, they don’t have enough room in the study hall, they’re eating on card tables and training tables, compared to the plush places these other schools have got. I see Northwestern raising $200 million for better facilities now. I see Texas A&M has [2012 Heisman Trophy winner] Johnny Manziel one year and they raise $550 million. I say, ‘What is this? We’re the state of Minnesota. This is our jewel.’

 

Q: So how did this happen? It didn’t happen overnight.

A: It was complacency. For too long, too often, we just took things as they are and no one really focused on the fact that we were falling behind. We just took things for granted and people don’t really realize when you’re successful in athletics, you raise more money for academics.

 

Q: There are going to be people that say Minnesota has competed well in many sports, especially the non-rev sports, and the key is the coach, not facilities. Why do we need it now?

A: First of all, non-rev sports are not going to drive the university. They’re not going to be able to exist if this continues. … We want to get to the position where we maintain what we’ve got in non-rev sports and continue to compete. … I’m a hockey guy but I’m not an idiot. I love hockey, but I know football is the most important athletic team at the University of Minnesota. The more successful they are, the more successful we are.

 

Q: What if you only get to $120 million? Then is it only just football, basketball, hockey facilities?

A: You know, if you have a goal and you don’t reach it, I don’t think you quit. You keep trying to get there. THERE’S AN OVERALL PLAN. One of the earliest things in this is the facilities to study and have training table, that’s for everybody.

 

Q: You and Teague must have some time frames in mind — where you’d like to be in a year, in two years.

A: No. I want to get it done tomorrow, can you help me? That’s it. … The faster we get something started and going, the more momentum we get, the more people we get on board, the more likely we are to succeed.

 

Q: You can break ground on some projects if, say, you get $50 million and then keep raising funds?

A: Right.

 

Q: There are prominent people who say that money is out of control in major college athletics, and will be the death of major sports. What’s your reaction to that?

A: Well first of all, I have to tell you one thing, they have been saying that for 20, 40 years, it doesn’t change. Everything goes up. … You don’t compete in the league and not give your athletes the opportunity to win. We are never going to be at the top of the spectrum for facilities and coaching salaries, etcetera. We don’t have 100,000-seat stadiums like Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, so we’re never going to have as much revenue. But there’s no reason for us to be at the bottom, and we’re at the bottom.

 

Q: Do you worry about major college athletics, where football coaches like Nick Saban make over $5 million?

A: But they take in $150 million [in revenue]. Be realistic. Why do a lot of salesman make more than the president of a company? Because they bring in business.

 

Q: Do you run into people who say why aren’t you raising money for academics?

A: Athletic success raises money for academics. The people have to start correlating that.

 

Q: How is it that in this state, with so many big corporations, raising money, at least athletically, has always been so difficult?

A: That’s the question that I think we’re trying to address. … I go to that little town in Ann Arbor and I see everything they got and I say, ‘What the hell is going on here?’… I personally think that the focus got away from the university when those pro sports teams came here, and we never got it turned back.

 

Q: And there wasn’t ever a solid fundraising plan?

A: That’s right, I don’t think there was a full-scale plan to get people involved. I really don’t think that “the ask” has been there. It’s like me, I never got involved in the University of Minnesota until the year 2000, I graduated in 1963. Someone came over and said, ‘Louie, we’d like you to be part of it, we’d like you to donate.’ I said, ‘Fine.’ And I got involved. They asked, ‘Why are you doing it now?’ I said, ‘Nobody ever asked me.’

 

Q: Are you optimistic of finding a major donor?

A: I am, but I wish you wouldn’t say major donor. We’re looking for $190 million, however we get it, not because of a major donor or donors. We don’t need a couple of top [donors] to be successful, but obviously it would make it easier.

 

Q: Are you satisfied where you are right now? What has the start been like?

A: Very encouraging because of the willingness of people to want to help. I’m really blown away. … I’m excited in the fact that people now finally realize we have to do something here to make this thing better.

 

Q: Do you have specific events planned to raise money?

A: You don’t get to $190 million by just fundraising events. You get to $190 million by people and corporations deciding, ‘I want to make this thing better for the state of Minnesota.’

 

Q: What’s your basic mode of raising money?

A: You see these things I have on? They’re called shoes, and it’s a lot of walking and talking.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Detroit
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Atlanta 106 FINAL
Washington 102
Golden State 114 FINAL
Miami 97
Detroit 73 4th Qtr 5:46
Milwaukee 87
Sacramento 86 4th Qtr 7:02
New Orleans 79
Chicago 48 2nd Qtr 0:50
Denver 54
Winnipeg 4 FINAL
Columbus 2
Ottawa 0 3rd Prd 20:00
St. Louis 2
Los Angeles 2 3rd Prd 19:42
Nashville 3
Edmonton 1 2nd Prd 6:04
Dallas 2
Colorado 0 2nd Prd 19:54
Arizona 3
New Jersey 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Calgary 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Fresno State 52 FINAL
East Carolina 58
Morgan State 73 FINAL
Elon 74
Purdue 82 FINAL
Missouri 61
Hawaii 62 FINAL
Marist 55
Liberty 57 FINAL
North Florida 77
MD-Eastern Shore 55 FINAL
Bucknell 58
Western Carolina 70 FINAL
Georgia State 85
BYU 121 FINAL
Chaminade 85
Evansville 62 FINAL
Green Bay 64
Alabama 76 FINAL
Arizona State 71
UT Martin 74 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 56
SE Missouri St 54 FINAL
Bowling Green 62
NC Central 50 FINAL
Cincinnati 59
Fair-Dickinson 47 FINAL
Columbia 57
Citadel 55 FINAL
Florida State 66
Houston 63 FINAL
Harvard 84
William Peace 71 FINAL
High Point 88
Texas-Arlington 44 FINAL
Kentucky 92
St Francis-NY 60 FINAL
La Salle 73
Boston Univ 68 FINAL
New Hampshire 75
Chicago State 57 FINAL
Oakland 70
Ark-Pine Bluff 60 FINAL
Ohio 69
Hartford 54 FINAL
Quinnipiac 50
Saint Peters 68 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Jackson State 71 FINAL
St Bonaventure 79
Long Island 70 FINAL
Saint Josephs 74
Hofstra 70 FINAL
South Florida 71
Western Ky 61 FINAL
Stony Brook 71
Loyola-Maryland 37 FINAL
Syracuse 70
Penn 67 FINAL
Temple 76
Detroit 82 FINAL
Toledo 79
Tennessee St 36 FINAL
Virginia 79
Northern Iowa 73 FINAL
Virginia Tech 54
Western Ill 49 FINAL
William & Mary 83
Ohio Valley 54 FINAL
Wofford 82
Toccoa Falls 40 FINAL
Presbyterian 63
Mount Ida 57 FINAL
UMass Lowell 102
Kansas State 68 FINAL
Arizona 72
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Army 80
Central Arkansas 67 FINAL
Char Southern 80
Howard 68 FINAL
UMBC 54
VA Commonwealth 77 FINAL
Oregon 63
Arkansas 78 FINAL
SMU 72
Jacksonville St 67 FINAL
Alabama A&M 61
TX A&M-CC 38 FINAL
Bradley 52
Eastern Ill 53 FINAL
Creighton 75
St Xavier 76 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 87
Northern Ariz 53 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 65
Nebraska Omaha 66 2nd Half 0:23
Nebraska 80
Akron 72 2nd Half 0:16
Penn State 74
NC A&T 49 2nd Half 0:26
Saint Louis 53
Columbia International 55 FINAL
SC State 92
Troy 70 FINAL
Southern Miss 72
St Francis-PA 46 FINAL
Texas 78
Northwestern St 64 FINAL
Texas Tech 75
Loyola-Chicago 71 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 57
Southern U 59 FINAL
Tulane 74
Norfolk State 53 FINAL
Vanderbilt 63
Jarvis Christian 65 FINAL
Abilene Christian 91
MN-Crookston 63 FINAL
North Dakota St 64
Lamar 61 2nd Half 0:13
Arkansas State 58
IUPUI 60 FINAL
Drake 73
San Francisco 24 2nd Half 11:58
Fla Gulf Coast 45
Miami-Florida 45 2nd Half 17:37
Charlotte 39
Air Force 15 2nd Half 19:43
Colorado 37
Boise State 38 2nd Half
Idaho 28
Louisiana 36 2nd Half
Oral Roberts 25
Buffalo 45 2nd Half
Grand Canyon 32
Maryland 25 1st Half 6:16
Iowa State 21
Northwestern 11 1st Half 11:18
Miami-Ohio 18
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
San Diego St
Bristol University 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Villanova 9:15 PM
Michigan
Cal State Fullerton 10:00 PM
USC
Delaware 10:00 PM
Stanford
Ohio U 21 4th Qtr 1:49
Miami-Ohio 21
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Belmont 55 FINAL
Kent State 58
Robert Morris 75 FINAL
Coppin State 58
UMKC 48 FINAL
Western Ill 71
Manhattan 48 FINAL
La Salle 61
UC Santa Barbara 34 FINAL
Arizona 61
Santa Clara 69 FINAL
LSU 67
Tulsa 67 FINAL
Texas Southern 64
SE Missouri St 57 FINAL
Ole Miss 58
Air Force 35 FINAL
Army 79
Towson 59 FINAL
UMBC 54
St Bonaventure 56 FINAL
Penn State 54
Texas-El Paso 43 FINAL
Kansas State 72
Cheyney 38 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 63
Johnson C. Smith 45 FINAL
NC A&T 76
Winthrop 71 FINAL
NC Central 63
USC Upstate 50 FINAL
SC State 60
Quinnipiac 52 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 112
Buffalo 54 FINAL
(8) Duke 88
Washington St 74 FINAL
Hampton 60
Bryant 67 FINAL
Brown 60
Vermont 75 FINAL
Central Conn St 77
St Francis-NY 50 FINAL
NJIT 57
(21) Rutgers 81 FINAL
Wagner 53
IUPU-Ft Wayne 63 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 90
Fairleigh Dickinson 66 FINAL
Monmouth 71
Jacksonville 59 FINAL
UCF 71
SIU-Edwardsville 76 FINAL
IUPUI 87
Duquesne 89 FINAL
Howard 63
Fordham 49 FINAL
Delaware 44
Saint Josephs 63 FINAL
Drexel 76
Liberty 62 FINAL
Elon 73
New Hampshire 39 FINAL
Penn 74
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
Akron 100
Grambling 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 97
Western Ky 67 FINAL
(12) Louisville 89
Arizona State 65 FINAL
Miami-Florida 61
Charleston Southern 64 FINAL
Florida 92
Georgia Southern 52 FINAL
(22) Georgia 93
Tenn Tech 67 FINAL
Mercer 73
Hillsdale 56 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 73
Ohio U 77 FINAL
Northern Ky 38
Gardner-Webb 69 FINAL
Appalachian St 77
Bucknell 54 FINAL
Youngstown St 69
Lafayette 66 FINAL
Rider 48
Lehigh 70 FINAL
Saint Peters 58
George Mason 79 FINAL
Navy 84
High Point 57 FINAL
Davidson 76
Old Dominion 69 FINAL
Virginia Tech 62
SW Assemblies 57 FINAL
Houston Baptist 85
LSU-Alexandria 58 FINAL
Northwestern St 86
Wofford 55 FINAL
Jacksonville St 70
ULM 46 FINAL
(25) Miss State 80
Morgan State 43 FINAL
(20) Oklahoma St 73
Lyon 43 FINAL
Central Arkansas 59
Lamar 72 FINAL
Texas State 79
Mobile 47 FINAL
SE Louisiana 74
St Edwards 56 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 65
Lipscomb 71 FINAL
Murray State 74
UAB 61 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 51
Northern Iowa 45 FINAL
(17) Iowa 73
Southern U 62 FINAL
Minnesota 107
Harvard 69 1st OT
Holy Cross 69
Colorado 38 2nd Half
Denver 27
Portland State 28 2nd Half 19:26
Oregon 32
Montana State 26 2nd Half
San Diego 43
Idaho 40 2nd Half 19:44
Wyoming 30
Pepperdine 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Long Beach St 9:00 PM
Boise State
Nevada 9:30 PM
San Francisco
Yale 10:59 PM
Alaska-Anchorage
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pm

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will the Gophers bring home The Axe?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close