This letter is in response to the recent popularity with the idea of downsizing our athletic department and relieving Joel Maturi of his position as Athletics Director.
First, in regard to the downsizing of our varsity sports: Like it or not, a university’s athletic department is a window into that university. The majority of student-athletes are a true example of a well-rounded student. They wake up at 6 a.m. for practice, go to class all day, where more than two-thirds of them achieved a GPA above 3.0 last year. And then they go to afternoon practice before studying in the evenings. This lifestyle leaves little time for the majority of student athletes to make bad decisions that appear on the news.
Second, in regard to firing Maturi, I think we need to step back from our little football bubble and look at the big picture. Every year Learfield Sports holds the Directors’ Cup, which is the definitive ranking system for overall success of a university’s athletic department. In the last three years, the Gophers have placed 18th, 14th and 28th respectively. In the last two years, we have been third among all Big Ten schools.
During Maturi’s tenure, the Gophers have never placed outside the top 30 of the 283 Division 1 athletic programs. To say that Maturi has failed for one bad coaching decision is absurd.