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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Gophers AD Teague: Basketball practice facility 'a need'

  • Private fundraising will be the primary source of money, but Teague indicated an interest in exploring the possibility of state bonding to help pay for the project.
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  • Building a basketball practice facility is a top priority for Minnesota sports.
    Construction of such a venue is "just a matter of when," athletic director Norwood Teague said.
    "That's not a want. That's a need. It will happen," Teague said in a question-and-answer session on Thursday with reporters.
    He said a master building plan will be unveiled in mid-April, estimating a cost between $80 and $125 million. Private fundraising will be the primary source of money, but Teague indicated an interest in exploring the possibility of state bonding to help pay for the project.
    The men's and women's basketball teams play in 85-year-old Williams Arena. They compete for time on the raised floor there and in the gym at the adjacent Sports Pavilion with the wrestling, volleyball, gymnastics and dance teams.
    Still reveling in Minnesota's 77-73 win over top-ranked Indiana on Tuesday, Teague said he sees no reason to do anything to the place affectionately called "The Barn" beyond adding amenities and touch-ups. The seating capacity of 14,625 is fine as is, he said.
    "It's too historical. It's too much a part of the state," Teague said in ruling out a teardown and replacement. "I've seen when you move arenas and you leave your classic place, it hurts in many ways."
    On other subjects:
    — Teague downplayed the midseason struggles coach Tubby Smith's teams have had here. He said he believes the last two weeks of February are the most difficult for all college basketball teams. Even after beating the Hoosiers, the Gophers went 5-17 in that month over the past three years.
    "I'm aware of it, but I'm also aware of it a lot of other places it happens," Teague said.
    — Teague said he's spoken to football coach Jerry Kill about his status as the lowest-paid head coach in the 12-team conference, at $1.2 million annually and that he wants to "work hard" toward addressing that. Kill is 9-16 in two years here.
    "Jerry feels good. He knows that I'll help him in those areas moving forward, because it's important," Teague said.
    — With Maryland and Rutgers coming to the Big Ten and maybe more schools in the future, conference football schedules will eventually grow to nine games if not 10. Teague said he's comfortable with Minnesota's position in this spread-out, tradition-rich, competitive league. He said he's confident the new two-division alignment when the Big Ten grows to 14 teams will be good for the Gophers.
    "The Big Ten did a great job and a pretty extensive survey on what fans felt like the breakdown of the divisions should be," Teague said. "It was very much a regional message, so I felt good about that. In our discussions two weeks ago, I sat in the back with a grin on my face."
    Page 2 of 2 - — Women's basketball coach Pam Borton, who has a 60-64 record and no appearances in either the NCAA tournament or the WNIT over the past four seasons, had her contract extended by outgoing athletic director Joel Maturi shortly before Teague took over the office. The university never announced the decision, but Teague said he would've.
    "I always want to be as transparent as possible," he said.
    — Despite the well-publicized price tags of an $800,000 cancellation of two scheduled football games with North Carolina, the buyouts for fired football coaches Tim Brewster and Glen Mason and fired basketball coach Dan Monson and recent reductions in state funding for higher education, Teague said his budget situation is not bleak.
    He said he's not considering cutting any of the 25 varsity sports played by the Gophers.

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