Maturi says Monson staying next season

C.J. Spang

As the Internet rumors of Minnesota’s men’s basketball coach Dan Monson’s imminent departure turned into news stories, Monson and Athletics Director Joel Maturi gave each other confused looks in Cincinnati.

“(Maturi) was on the bus when I heard the rumor and he said, ‘Well you’re going to have to answer to me, are you resigning?'” Monson said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “I said, ‘No, you’re going to have to answer to me.’

“So it was reassuring to have him with me at that time.”

The stories were put to rest when Monson addressed the media, stating he would be the coach of the Gophers next season.

Monson quoted Maturi as saying, “Hey, my stance is the same, you’re our coach next year.”

Maturi addressed the media with Monson at his side, reiterating that Monson would be coaching again next season.

“As far as the athletics director is concerned, yes he will be,” Maturi said. “There are three years remaining on this contract. I expect to honor this contract. I expect him to honor this contract. And that’s the direction we’re going in.”

When asked if he knew how the rumors got started, Maturi simply responded: “You know what, I would love to know.”

While the rumors certainly caught the coach off-guard, he admitted its part of having the high-profile job.

What was more of a concern for him was the affect it could have on the players, coaches and their families.

“You have empathy for the people besides you that it affects,” Monson said. “I think what it does is it really makes you reflective on how many people your job impacts and what the responsibility for this job is.”

Maturi went ahead and reassured one of those groups – the players – on two occasions.

According to Monson, Maturi addressed the team on the bus after the game against Cincinnati, reassuring them Monson would still be the coach.

“You know, I think we’d be the first ones to know as the players, and I don’t really know,” said junior guard Lawrence McKenzie. “But I’m already here to play basketball for Minnesota no matter what.”

McKenzie sat out this season because of NCAA transfer rules after leaving Oklahoma. McKenzie will have two years of eligibility left when he is able to play next season.

Maturi said the sanctions placed on the basketball program as a result of the 1999 academics scandal have hampered Monson’s success. Maturi said he took that into account in his decision to retain Monson.

“When you face the sanctions that the University of Minnesota faced, you can look up the records of the schools who’ve gone through this,” Maturi said. “It takes time. It’s not an easy transition.”

David McCoy and Matt Perkins contributed to this report.