It has been a hectic past month at the University of Minnesota and Athletics Director Norwood Teague covered those happenings and a broad range of topics while speaking at the Lowell Inn in downtown Stillwater on Tuesday evening.
Teague discussed the the hiring of new basketball coach Richard Pitino and touched on the need to upgrade practice facilities for many of the university’s programs before taking questions during the event, which was co-sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Chapter of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association and the Stillwater Sunrise Rotary and Stillwater Noon Rotary clubs.
The questions were often direct — more Mike Wallace than Jay Leno — and the responses equally candid. Teague explained how it was possible to lose money while selling $7 beers at football games (bad vending contract, which is being addressed) and why the women’s hockey team’s national championship game was not televised (the NCAA would not allow it), in addition to other subjects. Teague even asked for the phone number of one frustrated season ticket holder so someone in his department could respond to those concerns directly.
Teague discussed many of the economic benefits resulting from the Big Ten Network and its future expansion with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland, but also acknowledged frustration with less than ideal start times — adding more success in football and basketball will take care of those issues.
Having been in the job for about a year, Teague is optimistic the Gophers are on the right track and they are committed to fielding winning programs while also growing fan support, especially among students.
Additional notes, tidbits and explanations from Teague’s presentation include:
l Expect an announcement soon on the Big Ten changing to East and West divisions, rather than referring to them as the Legends and Leaders division (this drew applause from many in the crowd).
l Teague anticipates the Big Ten moving to nine conference football games in the near future.
l The athletics department budget is $80 million, of which just $1.6 million comes from the university’s budget and most of that goes towards facilities. The department also pays for $10 million into the university through all of its athletic scholarships.
l U of M athletes are showing marked improvement academically.
l The general public may never witness it, but new basketball coach Richard Pitino has a marvelous sense of humor.
l He praised football coach Jerry Kill and his work ethic, while adding it takes longer to turn around a middling football program, compared to basketball.
l Regarding facilities, Teague said at one point there were six teams practicing simultaneously at the Bierman Athletic Building this week.
l At this point, there is no push to get rid of Williams Arena.
Contact Stuart Groskreutz at [email protected]