The University of Minnesota website lists 12 responsibilities of the Board of Regents. Responsibility No. 3 reads, “Appoint, monitor, advise, motivate, support, evaluate, and, if necessary or advisable, replace the president.” While I fully realize that the role of the university’s president extends far beyond the realm of athletics, oversight of the athletics department is nonetheless a significant responsibility of the president at a university with major revenue sports programs. Since taking office in 2011, Eric Kaler has presided over multiple high-profile scandals within the U’s athletics department, not just the most recent one involving the football program that was dramatically exacerbated by Kaler’s own communication missteps.

If the regents take seriously their responsibility to “evaluate, and, if necessary or advisable, replace the president,” they simply cannot allow Kaler to remain president of the U given what has occurred on his watch. As an alumnus, I am calling on Chair Dean Johnson and the rest of the regents to remove and replace Kaler. The athletic department scandals affect the reputation of the entire university, and replacing Kaler will send a strong message that the U is serious about change and holding its highest leaders accountable.

John Grimes, Minneapolis

• • •

For persons following the debates, responses of conflicted emotions, praise, and blame about the University of Minnesota athletic program, a very informative essay appears in the Jan. 9 issue of the New Yorker magazine.

The author, Nicholas Schmidle, currently a professor of journalism at Princeton University, provides a needed overview of many of the themes that have surfaced regarding levels of responsibility and resources in the football world.

The article has details, examples and suggestions that are too numerous for the letters page. Some of the information that is shared is about football in our high schools, while stating observations at the college and professional levels.

A high school team coach, Roger Harriott, is quoted in the vein of our common concerns. And we applaud! “Football is just a vehicle to make these kids better young men. Ultimately, it’s for you to become a champion in life — a champion husband, a champion father, community leader, colleague.”

Marvin Repinski, Austin, Minn.


Some minds are so rigid they don’t see the big picture

I would like to thank you, Star Tribune, for printing the Dec. 31 letter reacting to the first article in the Star Tribune’s Dec. 28-30 “Rising from Poverty” series. It reminds us there are still hardhearted, mean-spirited people out there, people who buy into the (mostly false) assumptions about “welfare moms.” For one, that recipients of public assistance “waste” the money of you hardworking taxpayers on nonessentials (I’m very sure some do this). While I do agree with the letter writer on birth control, I submit that religion may forbid it. That said, nobody has the right to stand in judgment of Ethrophic Burnett, who was featured in the article, and others in the same situation unless he knows the whole story.

As for the letter writer’s comment on “personal responsibility,” I’d say this mother of six is doing exactly that. It sounds to me like she is taking seriously the responsibility of raising her family with the goal toward a better (i.e., more lucrative, maybe) life than she has. Isn’t that what all us parents want for our kids? I sure do. And should this opportunity to a better life only be available to the kids lucky enough to be born to more well-to-do parents? I think not and believe this is why we need these programs targeted at helping people in “rising from poverty.”

So instead of being so critical of people like her, perhaps you judgers might view her story in a “return on investment” perspective. According to the article, some of Burnett’s children either are going to or want to attend college. Assuming they get degrees, our society then gets new doctors, educators, entrepreneurs, or whatever careers they choose. Thus they become contributing taxpayers themselves. This possible outcome then answers the question by another Dec. 31 letter writer about what she and society as a whole get out of tax money that is helping families such as the Burnetts. Hopefully I’ve opened a few minds today.

Carlene M. Dean, Osakis, Minn.


Guess we’ll sleep tight knowing they’re on the MyPillow case

To the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota: Really? MyPillow goes from an A+ to an F because the manufacturer’s sale goes through the entire holiday season, and that is just too long for you? (“MyPillow BBB rating lowered to ‘F’ over ads,” Jan. 4.) You couldn’t find any grades in-between? As a consumer, I look at BBB grades to learn about a company’s integrity and customer service. This issue speaks more about BBB’s integrity. Perhaps an “F”?

Chris Schonning, Andover

• • •

Well, it’s about time! MyPillow Chief Executive Mike Lindell has been getting away with deceptive advertising for far too long. As noted in the Star Tribune, buy-one-get-one-free offers (BOGOs) that become permanent become the regular price, and the BBB at long last called Lindell on it. What took so long? And while we’re at it, why not challenge the “news” that MyPillow is the “official pillow of the National Sleep Foundation”? It’s been “news” for as long as the “BOGO” has been offered.

Back in the day when I worked in marketing at General Mills, the feds challenged our Kix box because it had blueberries on the cover photo but not in the box. It was a simple fix. We simply agreed to add the phrase “Serving Suggestion” to the cover photo since, indeed, the bowl, spoon, etc. weren’t in the box, either. Silly? No doubt, but at least someone was paying attention. Now, it seems, it takes years.

John F. Hetterick, Plymouth

• • •

Only in our USA does a consumer watchdog fail a pillow maker for false advertising while tobacco escapes “all” forms of humanitarian quality control, marketing and “justice.” Wonder if the givers and takers of bloody-stained tobacco loot try to relieve their sleepless nights with a MyPillow? With tobacco painfully slaying about 500,000 Americans annually, shouldn’t its purveyors have restless nights?

I personally would have preferred that my father was scammed by a pillow maker than his addicting tobacco cigarettes that terrorized him and our witnessing young family to his death from emphysema.

Mike Sawyer, Denver


A plea for the Oak Grill

With the closing of Macy’s in downtown Minneapolis, can the city of Minneapolis and the Minnesota restaurant industry get together and try to keep the Oak Grill, which is on the 12th floor, and move it somewhere else? Move the staff, recipes and menu items, and maybe even the fixtures and ambience to another place downtown? I don’t mind seeing the “Mall Mart” go, but I really would like to see that part of it stay.

Bill Hoots, Inver Grove Heights


Oh, you’re cold? Why, this may have slipped your mind …

A Jan. 4 commentary complains at length about how cold it is when one has to pump gas and Why Doesn’t Somebody Do Something About It? Here’s a thought: You could wear warmer clothes.

Wayne Gisslen, Long Lake

• • •

After reading Brent Paisley’s piece on the hassles of refueling in winter, I would encourage him to consider buying an electric car. As the owner a vehicle that never needs a drop of gasoline, I can assure Mr. Paisley that, in the shelter of my garage, my battery charger never asks me if I’d like a receipt, a car wash or what method of payment I’d prefer. In addition, I don’t have to stand around inhaling hazardous gasoline and exhaust fumes, or freeze my feet, hands and face while the car “fills up.” I simply go inside my nice, warm house.

Gerald Hopkins, Roseville