As Gonzaga prepares to play in its 19th consecutive NCAA men’s basketball tournament, Yahoo has an interesting look back on the 1999 chain of events that impacted two schools: Gonzaga and Minnesota.
Dan Monson, who took Gonzaga to the first of those 19 consecutive tourney appearances and led the Bulldogs to the Elite 8 — including a victory over a Minnesota team reeling from losing several top players to the fresh academic scandal story — decided later that summer to leave Gonzaga to take the head job with the Gophers.
In essence, the Gophers made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“It was going to take me 15 years to make the same amount of money at Gonzaga that I would make in two at Minnesota,” Monson said. “I asked myself in the mirror, ‘Does it really make sense to turn down the chance to set your family up for life just because you’re comfortable where you are?’”
But as the piece notes:
To this day, it’s still a question with which Monson wrestles.
Monson, of course, struggled to sustain success with the Gophers, making the NCAA tournament just once before taking buyout in the midst of the awful 2006-07 season. Mark Few took over for him in Gonzaga and has led the squad to 18 more NCAA berths — including a No. 1 seed in this year’s tournament.
The school in Spokane, Wash., has gone from off-the-map and underfunded to a basketball powerhouse with great facilities. Ironically, Monson’s struggle in Minnesota might have helped Gonzaga sustain its success.
“(Few) saw me struggle and I absolutely think that’s a huge part of him staying at Gonzaga,” Monson said. “He was the brunt of so many phone calls when I was at Minnesota. I’d tell him, ‘This is hard. Don’t take for granted the community. Don’t focus on what you don’t have. Focus on what you do have.’”