Dave Mona, a longtime face in Gophers athletics, was hired as a “special assistant” to athletic director Joel Maturi, the athletic department announced Tuesday.
Despite the timing, Mona won't be primarily helping with the coaching search. A public relations mogul who founded the Midwest's largest public relations firm, Weber-Shandwick, he'll help with courting major donors, strengthening community ties and various other marketing projects.
Mona is plenty familiar with the University, and Gophers sports in particular, having served as the color analyst for Gophers football radio broadcasts for the past 13 years and co-hosted the Sports Huddle show with Sid Hartman on WCCO Radio for the past 29. Both he and his wife, Linda, have chaired the University's Alumni Association, and both helped lead the fundraising for TCF Bank Stadium.
Though it won't be his main role, Mona said he expects to have some role in the search for a new football coach. He and Maturi still need to hammer out the specifics of the job, which is a newly-created position, and he expects to serve until next summer when the two will re-evaluate the position.
“We're going to have to define it along the way,” Mona said.
He has talked with University officials off and on for the past 10 years about joining the athletics department in some capacity, he said, but could never get it to work with his various other commitments.
When University President Bob Bruininks called him about it again two weeks ago, considering rockiness of Gophers athletics, this time Mona found a way to squeeze it in. He’ll cut his hours in half at Weber-Shandwick and will remain in both his radio positions.
“Now that there are changes in the department, now as much as ever there's a need to be closer to the community,” he said. “I figured this might be a good time to make it happen.”