Sid Hartman: Eric Kaler's departure will leave questions for Gophers athletics


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Nov 11, 2008
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Coaching on steady ground

You would have to say that Kaler is leaving the university on what seems to be a positive trend in athletics.

The University of Minnesota Athletes Village is up and running, even if there is still some fundraising to do.

The football team is showing signs that hiring coach P.J. Fleck was the right decision.

The men’s basketball team under Richard Pitino is off to a good start this season with high expectations following injury-plagued 2017-18.

The men’s hockey team is struggling at the start of this season, but most hockey people in the state believe that bringing in Bob Motzko as the new head coach was the right decision after Don Lucia’s 19-year tenure.

In the nonrevenue sports things are really looking bright, and women’s volleyball and women’s basketball are probably bringing in more money than they ever have with the volleyball team being run by one of the best coaches in the country in Hugh McCutcheon, and Lindsay Whalen making big waves in ticket sales as the new women’s basketball coach.

Will Kaler miss collegiate athletics?

“I’m not going to have to stop being a fan and being a spectator,” he said. “But I won’t miss some of the decisions that come with being the president of a large institution with a very visible athletic program.”

Grades, story lines improve

Over the past few years the Gophers have become leaders when it comes to public universities and educating student-athletes.

This week it was announced that a school-record 93 percent of student-athletes who began school in 2011 had graduated, according to the NCAA Graduation Success Rate. That was an increase of 25 percent from the university’s first GSR 13 years ago.

“We are the best public institution in the country from an academic progress point of view for our student-athletes,” Kaler said. “We are very proud of that. That takes a lot of work by the student-athletes, and I am very proud of what they have done.”

What did he think turned that around?

“It’s a view that the athletic director [athletic director Mark Coyle] and his staff have brought forward as a very high priority,” Kaler said. “The coaching staff appreciate that it’s a high priority. Minnesota has historically done well in this space, but to be the best in the country is a strong achievement.”

Yes, maybe the most important move of Kaler’s career was getting Coyle from Syracuse to serve as athletic director.

Go Gophers!!

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