Scoggins: Minnesota can't ignore sports when looking for Kaler's replacement


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Nov 11, 2008
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A new University of Minnesota president will leap into that vortex once Eric Kaler leaves office next year. Kaler’s announcement last week that he will vacate his post in July 2019 brings uncertainty about what that might mean for the future of Gophers athletics.

More specifically, how will the new president view athletics in relation to the overall mission of the university? That should be an important component of the vetting process.

A strong athletic program helps the bottom line significantly. In terms of fundraising, winning inspires giving. Everyone loves a winner.

One theory based more on gut than empirical data is that a successful football and/or basketball program increases enrollment numbers by raising a school’s profile. Wisconsin’s brand and reputation certainly benefited from Rose Bowl appearances.

McMillan offered an anecdote in explaining the impact of college sports. His grandfather, Lloyd Mitby, quit school in the eighth grade but attended every Gophers football home game from 1924 through 1988. He parked in the same location and walked the same path to Memorial Stadium every game.

College sports have changed since then. TV revenue has transformed it into an enterprise worth billions. More money brings more pressure to keep pace with rivals.

That might make you hold your nose, but complaining won’t change the year to 1980. This is the new reality. Schools either make the commitment or get left behind. The next president in Dinkytown inherits this landscape.

Go Gophers!!

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