This was the 40th season in which former coach Ken Lien headed the Mr. Basketball of Minnesota committee. The award has gone to the athlete considered by the group to be Minnesota's top senior basketball player.
Lien has announced the winner of the award and arranged an interview with the player on my afternoon radio show on several occasions in recent years.
Lien caused a furor this month with politically charged postings on Mr. Basketball social media accounts, leading to a protest that has caused the Minnesota Boys Basketball Coaches Association to announce on Monday it would start an alternative award for a top senior basketball player -- named in honor of Chisholm's legendary coach, Bob McDonald.
That was the same day Lien was telling his six committee members that he was resigning in full from the Mr. Basketball program, an award for which Lien has owned the name rights.
Lien and I have been in contact, and on Wednesday, he released this open letter:
"IN THE LAST SEVERAL DAYS, there have been a number of reports about my ill-advised posts on social media. As a figure who has tried always to shed a positive light on high school basketball in our state, and as a citizen of this great country, my actions were inexcusable.
"I humbly and sincerely apologize for my insensitivity and to those I have offended.
"Having owned the rights to the non-profit, all-volunteer Mr. Basketball of Minnesota program for 40 years, it truly has been a labor of love and pride for the committee and myself.
"We do not just look at stats in the morning paper or on any number of online outlets. A safe estimate is we attend a minimum of 340 games annually.
"We do that in fairness to the players. There are nights where a player has a hard time making a bucket, encounters foul problems or is playing through an injury. That’s the very reason the committee and I made every effort to see the candidates several times during a season.
"I mention this because it’s important for you to know the diligence and effort the committee puts forth. We put in this effort because being named 'Mr. Basketball' is the most prestigious high school boys basketball award in the state.
"My poor decision-making has caused hurt feelings and a great deal of anger. I recognize this and I am truly apologetic. It was, and never has been, my intent to hurt anybody’s feelings.
"In the best interest of the award, past and future recipients and all those who represent high school basketball, I have removed myself from the Mr. Basketball committee effective immediately, and have not and will not be involved in this season’s voting.
"I made this action known to my committee members on Monday. There will be a new head and spokesperson of the committee, including for this season’s 43rd annual award.
"I encourage all devoted basketball fans to place your trust in the Mr. Basketball committee. These gentlemen are a committed group and will continue to work diligently to crown Minnesota’s best high school senior.
"Thank you for your understanding and I ask for your forgiveness.''
~ KEN LIEN.