Hamilton, Monson deserve kudos for decisions

Two members of the University’s men’s athletics family have kudos coming.
Recently, All-American center Ben Hamilton of the Gophers football team and basketball coach Dan Monson made decisions which left folks by and large nodding their heads in approval.
First up was Hamilton. After anchoring the Gophers’ record-setting offense in 1999, Hamilton was chosen for a spot on Playboy magazine’s prestigious preseason All-America team.
For college football players, inclusion on such a team can do wonders for their — ahem — exposure.
But Hamilton, a devout Christian, immediately had doubts about affiliation with the publication and the conflicts it could cause with his beliefs.
Though coaches and teammates assured him the whole operation would be on the level, Hamilton turned Playboy down.
So when the October edition comes out next month, the team photograph will be without the player whom many regard as the best in the country at his position.
And while the story of Hamilton’s decision generated well-deserved respect, I for one am a little disappointed.
Here was my excuse to finally read the articles, and now it’s gone.
Ben’s father Wes played in the NFL between 1976-85 and was a recipient of the league’s Man of the Year award.
It appears Ben is well on his way in both accounts.
Speaking of stripped down teams, coach Dan Monson gave the basketball program its second huge boost in as many summers.
Last year, the brave Monson stepped forward and took the coaching job here, knowing he would have the daunting task of both coaching a team and restoring a program’s tainted image.
For fans, this meant instead of getting an out-of-touch athletic director like Terry Holland, the Gophers would get Monson; a young, vibrant coach whose best years are ahead of him.
Last week, Monson was contacted by Notre Dame officials looking to find a coach to succeed the departed Matt Doherty.
Now let’s review the situation for Monson at Minnesota. Since he took over, Monson has lost six players, one coach, post-season opportunities and scholarships. And the NCAA has yet to get its shots in.
But Monson turned down the offer. Flat. No listening when the phone rang, no meetings with school officials in other cities and no worries for his remaining players.
Monson rseaffirmed his worth as a coach willing to stay and cultivate the harsh soil. Thanks to his unwavering attention, the crops he yields could be magnificent.
So thank-you’s are in order here.
To the center praised on the field for his knockdown blocks, thank you for standing up for what you believe is right.
To the resilient coach of a much-maligned program, thank you for giving your team a big win though the season is months away.
Two teams, though lately on opposite ends of the success scale, can each boast members who embody a pair of important attributes; conviction and commitment.
Gentlemen, may your successes this off-season be an indication of what’s to come this fall and winter.

David La Vaque welcomes comments at [email protected]