Boston hands athletics reins to Moten Brown

Erin Ghere

Oversight of University athletics will radically change today.
Following an announcement last month by University President Mark Yudof, Tonya Moten Brown, Yudof’s chief of staff, will take responsibility of athletics beginning today.
McKinley Boston, who formerly handled athletics as well as student development, will continue working on development until his contract ends on June 30, 2000, but will abandon control over athletics.
The academic-misconduct report released on Nov. 19, which verified numerous instances of fraud in the men’s basketball program, prompted the leadership change.
The report cited shortfalls in institutional control over former men’s basketball coach Clem Haskins — who was aware of and in some cases facilitated academic fraud — and the program itself.
The Senate Consultative Committee, a student-faculty governing body, originally recommended that Moten Brown assume Boston’s athletics responsibilities.
Athletics inevitably gets more attention, said Tom Clayton, chairman of the subcommittee that drafted the recommendation.
Boston spoke to the full committee Nov. 4, when decisions were first being made, about the effects of taking athletics away from him.
He said he didn’t think of his removal from athletics as an affront to his integrity, even though the committee appeared to lay much of the blame for the academic misconduct at Boston’s feet.
“Professionally, I am at a point where I do not view this recommendation as a turf issue for me,” he said.
But he said the subcommittee that offered the recommendations “may question my integrity.”
The academic-fraud report showed no evidence Boston knew of wrongdoing, yet Yudof said Nov. 19 that Boston should relinquish his powerful position in athletics.
Boston responded, saying then that he did not oppose separating athletics and student development, but thought serious issues needed to be considered.
“There is no magical structure to make the challenges of managing college athletics or providing oversight to athletics go away. It is a very difficult and challenging job,” he said.
Boston said no matter who oversees athletics, three or four unavoidable, embarrassing incidents will occur each year.
“There are roughly 700 men and women student-athletes, over 70 coaches and hundreds of staff whose standard of conduct by working in athletics is held higher by the media than their peers or colleagues,” he said then.
“Scandals will happen. The law of averages would suggest social issues in a community of this size will happen and probably will be proportional or, in some cases, disproportional to the population at large,” Boston argued.
Boston’s position was created for him in 1995, when he was promoted from athletics director. He passed up offers from Florida State University after University of Minnesota officials and supporters, including former Gov. Arne Carlson, wooed Boston into staying in Minnesota.
“I would be the first to say from a design perspective that you should not necessarily design a position for an individual,” Boston said. “But … there are not a lot of people with backgrounds similar to mine.”
Boston said his unique position as vice president of student development and athletics resulted from his close relationship with former University President Nils Hasselmo and his widely varied professional experiences.
It was the first time athletics and student development had been combined.
At that time, faculty members recommended that Yudof implement new reporting lines for academic fraud and other potential NCAA and University violations as well as stricter policies regarding faculty-athletic coach contact.

Erin Ghere covers faculty and state government and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3217.