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Continued: New Minneapolis athletic director Tucker brings unique job experience

  • Article by: JASON GONZALEZ , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 7, 2013 - 11:49 AM

After retiring from the NBA after the 1992-93 season, he returned to Minneapolis and started a youth foundation. The nonprofit has provided inner-city middle school-aged kids support to pursue a successful future.

Among them was Dominique Dawson. The then-Minneapolis middle-schooler needed someone to push and believe in him, he said. While his surroundings fluctuated from good to bad, he remembers, All 4 Kids was always there.

Dawson graduated from Minneapolis Southwest and became the first in his family to attend college. He earned a spot on the Gophers men’s basketball team before transferring to Kentucky Wesleyan in 2011 and becoming a big part of the Panthers’ program. He will graduate next year and plans to attend graduate school.

“I honestly don’t think I’d be where I am now if it wasn’t for that program,” Dawson said. “I think [Tucker is] the kind of person that is going to care enough to push and do the right things and get people the help they need.”

Adapting his skills to a new role

The foundation and Tucker’s message earned respect in Minneapolis. Near the end of Washington’s tenure, assistant district AD Dave Wicker worked with Tucker to get him more involved in district initiatives.

“He understands kids. He understands the difficulties we have. And he’s got an excellent work ethic,” Wicker said. “With the few groups we’ve met with, he’s done a wonderful job of connecting with the kids.

“He has the credibility. He comes from an urban background and he was successful not only in his athletic career, but academically.”

In 2005, Tucker returned to the University of Minnesota to finish his degree.

Tucker plans to rely on Wicker for administrative muscle. Bollinger will be his administrative mentor.

Communicating and fundraising will be Tucker’s specialties. He said he’s raised millions of dollars for his foundation with the help of former teammates Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and many others.

Minneapolis South athletic director Mark Sanders said he expects Tucker’s background and qualifications will suit him well in his new job.

“He’s not the prototypical hire at 53 [years old]. But he knew what his desire was,” said Dave Sinykin, Tucker’s co-host of the weekend KFAN radio show ‘‘In the Zone.” “He can show various schools in Minneapolis the street smarts kind of life. He’s lived his life a certain way and brings a fresh approach from the outside.”

Tucker plans to continue his radio show and NBA TV analyst work but they will take a back seat to his new district role. He plans to use those platforms to spread his vision for city athletics.

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