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U Regent Hsu Voting No on Sports Cuts

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October 7, 2020

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Regent Michael Hsu told Sports Headliners he will vote no on the University of Minnesota proposal to cut four men’s sports at the Board of Regents meeting Friday. The Star Tribune reported last week the U Athletic Department is also seeking approval for reducing 41 roster spots on Gopher women’s teams as part of its cost savings plan for the next school year.  Hsu is opposed to that initiative as well.

“I am opposed to the (total) proposal because I think it’s the wrong proposal at the wrong time,” Hsu said.  “I think it’s premature.  I think the fact we’re playing football, we don’t really know what our financial picture is like. If it (the proposal) includes reducing women, it’s not something we should be doing until the office of civil rights comes knocking on our door and tells us we need to cut men and women from our programs.”

Athletic director Mark Coyle came to the regents at their last meeting proposing the elimination of men’s golf, tennis, and indoor and outdoor track.  The department is in a financial crisis because of the pandemic’s impact on the revenue producing sports, led by football, that support 25 men’s and women’s programs.  At the time of the September meeting the Gophers and other members of the Big Ten Conference had no plans to play a football schedule, but that has since changed with Minnesota and other league teams beginning eight-game schedules later this month.  The resumption of football guarantees TV revenues that presumably were not available if there was no season.

At the last regents meeting Coyle described the proposal to cut sports as painful but was definitive in the need to do so and offered no alternative.  Since then campus protest has surfaced (anticipate one today) and alumni of the impacted sports have spoken out including those who will raise money for continuation of the programs.

“We should give them (community organizers) a chance to try and figure this out,” Hsu said.  “We should work with them, but right now it’s not happening.  It’s basically, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do, and you don’t have a chance, and you’re never going to raise enough money so we’re not going to give you time.’

“I mean you heard what Coyle said.  I just think that’s a bad way to handle it. I think the community should have a chance, 30 days is not enough.  It’s not like these sports just started in 2001.”

Hsu believes the vote at Friday’s meeting could be close.  “I’ve heard from some (regents) that they agree with me,” he said.

Seven affirmative votes among 12 are needed to pass the proposal.  A 6-6 vote will defeat it.

Those interested in following the Thursday-Friday regents meeting can do so via live streaming and later on video.

Worth Noting

Mike Boone of the Vikings is NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for forcing a timely first quarter fumble against Houston Texans punt returner DeAndre Carter last Sunday that changed momentum of the game, and Minnesota went on to earn its first win of the season.

As the Gophers football team goes through its protocols in managing safety with COVID-19, it could learn from the Vikings who have managed to keep their players healthy. Fox reported during Sunday’s Vikings game that the team used 10 buses in Houston to distance players in transporting them from the hotel to stadium.

Tracy Claeys

247Sports released its latest bowl projections this week including the Gophers in the January 2 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville against Mississippi State.  If so, that’s a rematch with the “Pirate.”  Bulldogs coach Mike Leach lost in an upset to Minnesota and coach Tracy Claeys in the 2016 Holiday Bowl in San Diego when he was leading the Washington State program.

Whew! It’s believed former LSU coach Les Miles wanted the Gophers job before Minnesota hired P.J. Fleck in 2017.  Miles is in his second season now at Kansas and the Jayhawks might be the worst Power Five program there is.

Former Gophers head coach Tim Brewster now coaches tight ends at Florida where his starter, Kyle Pitts, has six touchdown receptions in two games and looks like the favorite to win the John Mackey Award honoring the nation’s best collegian at that position.  Pitts is also an early Heisman Trophy favorite, recognizing college football’s best player.

Minnesota Wild scouting authority Judd Brackett talking about center Marco Rossi who the team selected ninth overall in last night’s NHL Draft: “Marco is a two-way center with incredible vision, skill and compete level. We are very excited to add his playmaking ability to our organization.”

Still unknown is when WCCO Radio’s “Sports Huddle” program, off the air for most of this year because of the pandemic, will return.  The show has been a Sunday morning listening favorite since 1979.

“Sports Huddle” co-host Dave Mona is finishing up the 49th book he has read this year.  At the top of his list is Erik Larson’s new book on Winston Churchill.

Although it’s a late start, a lot of communities across the state are celebrating the return of prep football this month.  The Minnesota Football Coaches Association points out the first high school game in the state occurred in 1891 between Minneapolis Central and Duluth.

The CORES group that normally starts its guest speakers programs in September has postponed meetings indefinitely because of COVID-19. CORES is an acronym for coaches, officials, reporters, educators and sports fans.

The pandemic has prompted the Bolder Options nonprofit, headed by former Gopher Darrell Thompson, to plan its annual celebration and fundraiser online with an October 28 date from 7 to 7:30 p.m.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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