NCAA and U unveil 2001 Final Four tourney logo

Michael Dougherty

The glory years for sports in Minnesota can be epitomized by the yearlong devouring of enormous sporting events that took place in the Twin Cities during a one-year period in 1991-92.
The Stanley Cup Finals between the North Stars and the Penguins sparked the sporting bonanza in June of 1991. Payne Stewart won the U.S. Open that was played at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska later that summer. The Twins beat the Braves in one of the most exciting World Series ever played. The Washington Redskins spanked the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI at the Metrodome in January of ’92.
And the remarkable run was culminated when Duke beat Michigan 71-51 in March the last time the Metrodome hosted the Final Four.
On Tuesday afternoon at the Radisson Plaza in downtown Minneapolis, the attempt to return the area to its glory of the early ’90s was given a face with the unveiling of the Final Four logo for the tournament that will be held at the Metrodome in 2001.
Minnesota’s Director of Athletics Mark Dienhart and Craig Thompson, chair of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, tugged off the maroon slipcover to reveal the official logo Tuesday afternoon.
A University graduate and former sports reporter for The Minnesota Daily, Thompson said the unveiling is the official tip off for the Final Four, an event he calls one of “the premier events in the country, if not the world.”
He is also the commissioner of the Mountain West Conference based in Colorado Springs, Colo., and he said he regards being in charge of bringing the Final Four to his home state as, “the highlight of my career in athletics.”
Considering all the negative publicity the University has endured since the news of the alleged academic fraud broke in March, Thompson said having the University’s name attached to an event like the Final Four is highly beneficial.
“I think the University of Minnesota has always stood for high integrity with its education process, and certainly there have been some things that have questioned that,” Thompson said. “But this is something that they can rally around and focus on. These are the good things. You do things for the student-athletes and the students, and that’s what this thing is really about. It’s really wholesome and rewarding.”
In conjunction with the 2001 Final Four, the National Association of Basketball Coaches will conduct its annual convention in the Cities as well.
The Metrodome and the University will also be host to first- and second-round games for this year’s NCAA Tournament in March of 2000.

Michael Dougherty covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]