Boos, not moos come from Haskins’ Kentucky farm

Tim Klobuchar

Gophers men’s basketball coach Clem Haskins has long had an impeccable image as a leader of young men, a molder of virtuous character, one of the last bastions of moral purity in a college basketball world rife with gaudy earrings and unsightly tattoos.
But Haskins’ reputation might not emerge squeaky-clean if the following scenario plays out as planned: plaintive bleating from woebegone goats and sheep, doleful moos from discontented cows and mournful oinks from pigs that are suddenly not so happy wallowing in their own filth.
The reason for this, the unhappiest group of fauna since “Animal Farm” and “When Animals Attack” combined, is simple. Haskins is deserting these animals — his animals — on his Campbellsville, Ky., farm in July in favor of coaching the U.S. men’s basketball team in the Goodwill Games, an event created by Ted Turner. Haskins normally spends the summer months at the farm.
“I realize that Clem is a very busy omnivore,” said Gerald Steuernagel, a professor in the University’s animal science department. “But I hope he’s aware that, as the primary summer caretaker of these animals, an extended stay away from them can have serious ramifications.”
Steuernagel rattled off a laundry list of possible effects of Haskins’ absence on the animals, including loneliness, depression and anarchy.
“That last one is just my theory,” he said. “But you could look up those other ones.”
Despite Steuernagel’s warnings, Haskins said he plans to throw caution to the wind and still coach the Goodwill Games team.
“I appreciate Professor Steuernagel’s concern,” Haskins said. “However, I’ve been committed to basketball longer than I’ve been committed to getting up at five in the morning to milk cows. My number one goal is to produce young men of fine character, not beef and poultry.”
Warren Brown, USA Basketball Executive Director, hired Haskins for the Goodwill Games job in January. Brown pointed to Haskins’ track record of summer coaching — which includes the 1991 U.S. Olympic Festival, the 1994 Junior World Championships and the 1996 Olympic Dream Team — as evidence that there is no need to worry about the farm animals’ psyche.
“Believe you me, this was a consideration when it came down to picking our coach,” Brown said. “(Arizona coach) Lute Olson took himself out of the running early on because he didn’t want to leave his pet goldfish, Vidal and Sassoon. He thought his wife might forget to feed them. So, yes, we were concerned that Clem might be preoccupied with that. Fortunately, he’s proven in the past he’s willing to make that sacrifice.”
Still, not everyone’s fears have been allayed.
“At the risk of sounding redundant,” Gophers forward Miles Tarver said, “without Clem, that farm is going to sink like … wait, I’m not going there again.”
— A vivid imaginiation was used to compile this report.