Yudof plans to keep Boston at University

Josh Linehan

Despite announcements Monday of further University self-imposed sanctions, the efforts to re-establish the University in both structural and public-relations capacities go on tirelessly at Morrill Hall.
Questions still abound as to whether the University has been “meaningful and appropriate” in its actions following the men’s basketball scandal after an announcement Thursday that McKinley Boston will remain at the University.
University President Mark Yudof said Thursday he would find Boston a University job after his contract expires in June. Boston was one of several athletics employees whose contracts were not renewed after the academic fraud report revealed holes in the men’s athletics top administration.
Boston was the vice president for student development and athletics until Dec. 1, 1999.
“Mac is a good man who, in my judgment, didn’t manage the vice presidency in a way that was appropriate,” Yudof said.
The University might hire Boston as a community liaison position, working with communities of color.
In an earlier interview, Tonya Moten Brown, vice president for administration, said Yudof was looking to find a place for Boston, in part because of Boston’s long tenure and his record of service at the University.
“Mac has been with the University for a long time, and with the circumstances surrounding his contract … not to suggest we made the wrong decision, I think we made the decision we had to, but I do think the president recognizes there’s a human side,” Brown said.
“To that extent perhaps the University could find some other areas to use Dr. Boston’s skills,” she said.
Yudof said Boston’s salary would most likely be paid with private, not public, money and would be transitional, lasting one or two years.
Although NCAA compliance officer Jeff Schemmel’s contract was also not renewed, he will still plan the NCAA Final Four tournament in Minneapolis next year.
But Yudof stressed the men were no longer serving in their original capacities.
Boston would not confirm or deny any specific job offers.
All University action regarding the scandal could still affect the outcome of the NCAA’s investigation into academic fraud within the men’s basketball team. Brown said she hoped the self-sanctions would be enough to appease the NCAA.
“It’s a matter of recognizing that the kind of penalty we levied against ourselves is very similar to the kinds of penalties we would expect from the NCAA. So it’s a matter of timing.
“Would you rather take your medicine now, or do you really want it to be far in the future, and far removed from the original acts?” Brown said.
While University administration decided to take their medicine now, men’s basketball coach Dan Monson is left with perhaps the worst taste in his mouth.
Monson, who left Gonzaga University to take the University of Minnesota job after Clem Haskins’ contract was bought out last summer, said he knew the program was in trouble when he took the job but had no idea the penalties would be so severe.
“I don’t think anybody would have taken this job in July understanding exactly what the sanctions were going to be or what was going to happen,” Monson said. “But I also think that when you take it, you have to understand there’s always the possibility for a worst-case scenario.”
The scenario for Monson involves rebuilding a team that finished next to last in the Big Ten this season with heavy handicaps on future recruiting.
Along with recruiting sanctions, the University pledged to pay back an estimated $350,000 in money earned through the Big Ten conference for trips to the NCAA tournament in 1993-94, 1994-95 and 1996-97. The internal investigation concluded all teams competed with ineligible players.
The financial handicap will be dealt with by the new men’s athletics director. But the University is no closer to naming a replacement for interim director Tom Moe than it was shortly after the report was released, Brown said.
The University accepted nominations for a committee to begin the search but has still not named one.
Brown said the delay was due in part to an internal evaluation about the aspects of the position.
“When you have that kind of turnover or vacancy, it does create an opportunity, in this case not just reflecting the basketball situation, to look at some issues concerning how athletics is operated,” Brown said.
To that order, Moe has been working on streamlining some operations of the department, including marketing and financial operations.
Those questions have also led the University to lean toward a candidate with strengths in fields other than sports, Brown said.
“We’ve said all along we’re interested in a broader experience pool in terms of the kinds of candidates. We’re not just looking at people who’ve come up the athletics side of the house,” Brown said.
“Athletics has become big business these days. Maybe in the days when you had smaller programs and they weren’t making as much money, you could just take the guy who used to coach and say, ‘run our program.’ I think those days are behind us,” she said.
Monson, who will serve under whomever is named to the position, said he realizes the importance of management in intercollegiate athletics, but stressed a solid candidate would also have athletic credentials.
“The challenge for the University is to going to be finding someone who understands the business world and the athletic world, because to be successful in that job, you can’t be just an accountant or just the old football coach,” Monson said.
— Staff Reporters Kristin Gustafson and Mark Heller contributed to this story.

Josh Linehan welcomes comments at [email protected]