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By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Former University of Minnesota AD Joel Maturi once likened the rise in upgrading college athletic facilities to “an arms race.” However, it might be better termed as keeping up with the Joneses.

Current U of M AD Norwood Teague pledged in July that he would be “aggressive and committed” to building a new on-campus athletic facility. “We need this,” he said of the $190 million proposed football, basketball and training facility.

The “Taj Ma-Norwood” is much grander in scale than the promised practice facility that never came to former Gopher men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith while he was here. But somehow, just a few months after firing Smith, Teague can now unveil his privately-funded “Scheme of dreams.”

Somehow such dollars are finding their way to Gopherville now that a White coach is on the sidelines?

“This is a great plan,” said Teague, who quickly pointed out that Northwestern has already raised $55 million towards a $220 million building construction project.

But to paraphrase former NBA star Allen Iverson, we’re talking practice [facility], not improving Black graduation rates at the school or hiring more Blacks under this administration.

Perhaps Minnesota Athletics’ top man could instead raise a few bucks to install air conditioning in the Sports Pavilion, where one of the school’s perennial post-season participants plays. Last weekend, while the

Artist’s concept of proposed new U of M athletic facility Illustration courtesy of U of M

Artist’s concept of proposed new U of M athletic facility
Illustration courtesy of U of M

outside temps were in the 80-90 degree range, it was even hotter in the former hockey arena where the Gophers and three other teams played an early-season volleyball tournament.

“All the heat and the lights, it was a little bit touch and go,” U of M Coach Hugh McCutcheon told the MSR after a match last Friday. “Tori [Dixon] cramped up in the third set [in a win over Ball State], and that’s why we pulled her.”

On the torrid conditions inside the Pavilion, noted McCutcheon, “I know that air conditioning is part of the university’s grand development plan. It’s an expensive deal, and I get it, but it could have been dangerous tonight. It’s not ideal.”

 

Early spring training for Twins 

The Minnesota Twins announced Sunday that five players would be called up from Triple-A Rochester to the parent club for the remainder of the season. All Major League Baseball teams can expand their 25-man rosters to 40 players in September.

With 19 games remaining, this in essence becomes early spring training for the Twins as players show if they deserve a roster spot for next season. Manager Ron Gardenhire told the MSR on Sunday, “We have a lot of young players trying to get a look for spring training next year, to make a statement that they want to make the team next year.”

This even applies for the players already on the club, Gardenhire added. “Those other guys here understand how important it is to finish this season [on a positive note].”

Also called up last weekend was Cedar Rapids Coach Tommy Watkins, who recently completed his fourth season in the organization: He joined the team coaching staff as its only Black coach. “This will be good experience for him to see the pace of the game,” concluded Gardenhire. “He can get a chance to see some of these kids that we’re looking at — he’d seen some of them through the minor leagues.”

 

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to [email protected]

 

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