Women’s hoops coach to receive extension through 2011 season

by Ben Goessling

Minnesota women’s basketball coach Pam Borton said she will soon sign a three-year extension that could keep her at Minnesota through 2011.

Borton, who has four years left on her current deal, said Wednesday that lawyers for her and the University are cleaning up the final language of the contract, which could be signed within a week.

The contract will include a buy-out clause and deferred compensation package, much like her current deal, which paid her approximately $200,000 last season.

The 39-year-old Borton, who became Minnesota’s third head coach in as many years when she took the job in 2002, pointed to the program’s long-term stability as one of the contract’s big advantages.

“It’s just as nice for the student-athletes as it is for me,” she said. “When people see it’s a revolving door, that’s never a good thing. A parent or recruit’s first question is always, ‘How long do you plan on staying?’ “

Borton, who took the program to its first-ever Final Four last season, had a bit of a scare last week, however. All-American center Janel McCarville, suffered a slight ankle sprain and is wearing a walking boot to take pressure off her foot.

Borton said McCarville should be back in workouts by next week.

“The boot is more of a comfort thing for her,” Borton said. “Thank goodness it was nothing worse. She’ll be at 120 percent by the time the season starts.”

Hebert, too

Athletics Director Joel Maturi also locked up volleyball coach Mike Hebert to a five-year contract extension earlier this week.

Starting Jan. 1, the coach will receive a small raise from his current salary of $115,779.

Hebert, who will be 61 in January, may have signed the last contract of his career. And with the Gophers currently ranked No. 1 in the nation, Maturi was too happy to close the deal.

“If anybody deserves it, it’s him,” Maturi said. “He’s one of the finest, if not the finest, coaches in the country, and he’s certainly earned it.”

Maturi said a big factor in the extensions for both coaches was that each has done an excellent job of increasing attendance.

Minnesota women’s basketball team drew an average of 9,703 fans per game last year – which ranked sixth in the country – and is expected to sell about 5,000 season tickets this year.

Meanwhile, the volleyball team posted the sixth-best attendance in the country last year, marking the fifth-straight year Minnesota finished in the top 10.

“Winning is important, but both of them are also very visible to the public and open to the media,” Maturi said. “They do all those things that aren’t so obvious as winning and losing, and it has paid off.”

Check arrives

Maturi said he received a $125,000 check from Baylor earlier this week that the school owed Minnesota for pulling out of a football game with the Gophers.

The Bears were on the schedule for last Saturday, but backed out last fall, and Minnesota replaced Baylor with Division I-AA, Illinois State.

Baylor agreed last summer to pay Minnesota around the time of the game.

“I’m thankful to them for doing it,” Maturi said. “It’s the right thing to do, and I appreciate it.”

Center commits

Minnesota’s basketball team has received a verbal commitment from James Davis, a 7-foot, 280-pound center from Garden City Kansas Community College, according to his junior college coach.

Davis, a graduate of Minneapolis North, visited the campus last weekend and selected Minnesota over Oklahoma State and Washington.

His coach, Ryan Swanson, said Davis also received attention from Cincinnati and Georgia.

“If it had gone late, it would have been a who’s who of major programs,” Swanson said. “Scoring has never been his forte, but he does so many more things defensively. The only thing he has to work on is tightening and toning his body. If he does that, he can be in the NBA.”

Davis averaged 11.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game for Garden City last year. He planned to visit several other campuses in the spring, but after meeting with the Gophers, Davis decided to come home.

“He felt comfortable enough with that one,” Swanson said. “Family is important to him, and he wants to be able to play in front of them. Minnesota clearly made the most effort in recruiting him and selling the program.”