Yudof should battle the athletics monster

An open letter to President Yudof:
It might be too early in your presidential career to be thinking about your Minnesota legacy. Then again, maybe it isn’t. If such thoughts have crossed your mind, consider this possible legacy: the president who destroyed the monster of big-time college jockdom.
Let’s take a brief inventory. One entrenched “power coach” establishes his own fiefdom, mouths the right platitudes, packs Williams Arena and wins, baby, wins. Then along comes another would-be power coach — and yet another Holztian mercenary whose real talent is importing youthful versions of the same.
He barely begins to lay the masonry for his own fiefdom. He doesn’t yet come close to stuffing the Dome on a regular basis, and he has one — yes, just one — winning season before he begins to entertain thoughts of taking his mercenary act elsewhere.
His hollow protestations to the contrary, the now disestablished “power coach” stands revealed as corrupt to the core. And despite his claim to be candid, the power coach-in-training stands revealed for the self-promoter that he is. So what do you do? You pay off the first coach with an unconscionable amount of money and throw yet another pile of money at the foot of the fellow whose only acknowledged failing is a fondness for the telephone.
Let’s see … the predecessor to power coach ##1 is bounced, as he should have been, because his charges misbehaved, and misbehaved badly, off the court. The power coach himself? He orchestrates massive corruption and retires with two new knees and a cool million and a half.
And the budding power coach? He beats up on three nonconference nonentities, has a slightly better than .500 Big Ten season (when the stars are in alignment and neither Michigan nor Michigan State is on the schedule), takes the Gophers to a meaningless bowl game in El Paso (El Paso??) and then sits back to let the phone — and the cash register — ring and ring again.
Are you embarrassed by any of this? As a University of Minnesota graduate, I am. More to the point, I am embarrassed by your response to all this. Instead of buying the silence of one coach and trying to buy the loyalty of another, why not just pull the plug on the whole sordid circus?
Why not tell Mason to pick up the phone before it rings and go find another football program desperately in need of resurrection? Yes, three decades and counting is a long time in the gridiron wilderness, but did anyone doubt that it could be done? Now that it actually has been done (El Paso ain’t exactly Pasadena), why not take Sen. George Aitken’s Vietnam advice by simply declaring victory and closing up shop?
Where does all this leave Dan Monson? He seems to be a pleasant, earnest and competent fellow. And maybe, just maybe, he’ll be the first Gophers basketball coach since Johnny Kundla (Bill Fitch and George Hansen don’t count) to be relieved for the old-fashioned reason of losing games rather than abandoning principles. But why take the risk of further embarrassment?
The ball is now in your court, Mr. President. Why wait for the NCAA to hand down its draconian “death sentence” when there’s still time to issue your very own? Yes, here and there small private colleges have dropped this or that sport. But no major public university has yet taken this no longer unthinkable step.
Surely these thoughts must have crossed your mind. And if they haven’t, maybe you need to realize you are part of the problem and not part of the solution. Monsters, after all, are monsters. They cannot be tamed. They cannot be reformed. They can only be fed or slain. The choice — and the legacy — is yours.
Chuck Chalberg is a University alumnus and a teacher at Normandale Community College in Bloomington.