Mason top priority for new director

Josh Linehan

Attorney Tom Moe was ushered in as interim men’s athletics director Monday afternoon for one major purpose: Keep Glen Mason as Gophers football coach.
Moe, a University graduate and former football and baseball star, took a leave of absence from Minneapolis law firm Dorsey & Whitney to run the men’s athletics program until the University finds a permanent director next year.
Moe said his first priority will be to help devise a package to entice Mason, who has interviewed with Michigan State University and Louisiana State University, to remain in Minnesota.
To help Moe get a handle on his new post, he might be assisted by former men’s athletics director Mark Dienhart, who resigned Nov. 19. Officials, however, declined to release details, only saying that if Dienhart takes on an advisory role, he would continue to draw a University salary.
“We are currently in communication with Mark Dienhart about staying on for a transition period,” said Tonya Moten Brown, President Mark Yudof’s chief of staff. “Beyond that, I wouldn’t comment.”
Moe’s interim position will last until summer, with a new athletics director taking over after that. Brown said she hoped to have a search committee in place by the new year.
Moe is well-versed in Gophers athletics, at least from a fan and player’s points of view. He has held football season tickets for more than 30 years and is a former member of the Touchdown Club, a football booster group. Moe also has personal ties to Mason, his main mission.
Since Deinhart’s resignation last month, Mason has made his restlessness with the University more and more public.
Keeping him at the University might be a tall order, especially since his marketability as a coach is at an all-time high after guiding the Gophers to an 8-3 finish and being named Football News’ coach of the year.
“I mentioned Mason’s contract before; that’s something that needs to be dealt with right now, not eight months from now,” Moe said.
Men’s basketball coach Dan Monson recalled meeting Moe at a dinner party given by Mason following the Oct. 23 Minnesota-Ohio State football game.
“I think it’s a difficult position for anyone to be put into, but I certainly like the fact that he has Minnesota ties, and he understands — more than I do or more than a lot of people do — what it is to wear maroon and gold,” Monson said.
Brown said keeping Mason at the University was a priority, but said the move would not enable Mason to become a “power coach,” something University President Mark Yudof said would never happen again during his tenure.
“We certainly feel an obligation to pay coach Mason a fair market rate, but I think ‘power coach’ indicates a deference factor that will not come into play here,” Brown said.
While University officials understand Mason’s desire to listen to other job offers, Brown said she and Yudof were waiting for Mason to offer a good-faith gesture.
“We’re happy to have a coach who is desired nationwide, and we will work to keep him while acting responsibly. You can’t blame him for listening,” Brown said. “But we want to hear from Glen Mason that Minnesota is the place he wants to be.”

Josh Linehan welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3212.