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A sports reporter’s spring notebook cleaning

Marlene Stollings’ second hire on her Gopher women’s basketball coaching staff is Nikita (Niki) Dawkins. She is a 23-year coaching veteran who has been a VCU assistant coach the last two seasons and held similar positions at Old Dominion, Michigan and Ohio State, her alma mater. In a released statement, Stollings called Dawkins, whose duties include recruiting coordinator, “one of the top assistants in the country.” She joins Tiffanie Couts, who Stollings named director of basketball operations. Couts was a grad assistant last season at VCU. The women are the only two Blacks on the staff. Continue Reading →

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March madness indeed!


I just read that University of Florida coach Billy Donovan, as a result of taking his team to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA basketball tourney we know as March Madness, got a contract extension and a large raise. The university is paying him in real cash, not in hamburgers or tattoos or trips on the company’s private jet or promises to help him secure his Ph. D, but $3.6 million in racks and racks of stacks. There is money in them there balls: CBS’s and Turner Broadcasting’s 14-year $10.8 billion contract, NCAA president (plantation director/slave driver) Matt Emmert’s $2 million salary, top NCAA officers’ six-figures salaries, and the new NCAA headquarters is $35 million. Last year’s winning coach Rick Pitino’s salary is $42 million through 2022. Continue Reading →

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NCAA has ‘lost the high ground’ in public opinion

The Northwestern (NW) football players’ possible unionization efforts have started a snowball rolling that, despite all their legal might, the NCAA may find themselves struggling like Bullwinkle to stop. Almost immediately after the National Labor Relations Board ruled earlier this month that the scholarship football players can hold an election whether or not to unionize, Northwestern officials stated they will appeal. But last week, NW former quarterback Kain Colter and Ramogi Huma, president of the College Athletes Players Association, met behind closed doors “with an undisclosed set of legislators” in Washington.  

The MSR talked to Drexel Professor Ellen Staurowsky, who has worked with Huma, a former UCLA football player, since he started the National College Players Association in 2001 as an advocacy group for giving college athletes a voice. Colter “is carrying the banner” for so many others before him that have fought for fair compensation for their work over the years, noted the professor. Continue Reading →

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Was it Tubby Smith’s fault?

Gophers miss 2014 NCAA Basketball Tournament


A year ago this month, the Minnesota Gophers Men’s Basketball team played in the NCAA Basketball tournament. The African American Head Coach, Tubby Smith, had retooled the team. It was on the move again. But even when 15-1, Star Tribune started a series of negative, anti-Tubby columns. To his credit, Sid Hartman didn’t agree (writing the day before Smith was fired that it would be a “big mistake by the Gophers”). Continue Reading →

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Whistleblower persecuted for exposing UNC academic scandal

While people’s busted tournament brackets dominate this year’s March Madness hoops chat rooms, once again little or nothing has been said about that proverbial 2,000-pound elephant in the room — the continued hypocrisy of college sports. The University of North Carolina was among the 68 men’s teams and 64 women’s teams in this year’s respective NCAA tournament fields. This despite a huge academic scandal that has hovered over Chapel Hill for at least two years now involving the school offering “bogus classes” since the 1990s for mostly basketball and football players. Ohio University Professor David Ridpath told that the U of M academic scandal in the late 1990s, when class papers were ghostwritten for several basketball players, then considered the worst scandal in sports history, “pales in comparison” to the UNC situation. Remember Minnesota’s 1997 Final Four run and their Big Ten title that year as well?  The Gophers’ NIT crown won in 1998? Continue Reading →

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March madness continues



The National Invitational Tournament (NIT) has a rich storied history dating back to pre-World War II days. The Women’s NIT since 1998 has tradition as well — just not as long as the men’s. However, present-day hoops fans and snobbish media types give both the Rodney Dangerfield treatment:

No respect for either of them. While there are those who only see one tournament, and while the men’s NCAA annually gets marathon King Kong coverage and barely Timberbell-like coverage on the women’s side, this reporter gives four-fold attention to the two bigger tournaments, as well as the NIT and WNIT. Both men and women Gopher squads this week are in their respective NIT sweet 16 — the men play Southern Mississippi Tuesday at Williams Arena, and the women go to South Dakota State on Thursday. Continue Reading →

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March graduation rate madness



A quick prediction for this year’s NCAAs — Black male basketball players’ graduation rates will remain virtually unchanged. While nearly everyone is filling out their brackets, the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) released on Monday its annual study on the academic performance of the players in the NCAA Division I tournament teams. The study’s primary author, TIDES Director Dr. Richard Lapchick, compares the graduation rate data of Black and White male basketball student-athletes.  

“There is not much good news to report as almost every category examined remained the same or got worse,” wrote Lapchick. The women teams’ report was released Tuesday. A more detailed analysis will be in next week’s “Another View” in the MSR print edition. Continue Reading →

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NCAA shot still pending for Gophers women (updated)


INDIANAPOLIS — The waiting game is now underway. Minnesota (20-12) is .500 (1-1) thus far this post season. The women’s basketball team will know this Monday whether or not their proverbial “body of work” has earned them their first NCAA at-large berth since 2009. Nearly everyone who the MSR talked to here in Indianapolis last week thinks they have:

“I think Minnesota deserves to be in the NCAA Tournament,” says Nebraska Coach Connie Yori, whose league tourney champion Huskers twice defeated the Gophers this season, including a 13-point win in the Big Ten quarterfinals March 7. “With the strength of our league and their RPI (38), I think they need to be in the NCAA Tournament.”

The Gophers are 7-3 in their last 10 games, including a first-round overtime win after being down 16 points in the second half over Wisconsin. Continue Reading →

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March Madness begins



Let’s be perfectly clear from the start — this and all subsequent columns are March Madness cliché-free. We won’t be talking about dancing or getting tickets punched here. The Gophers women basketball team plays Thursday in the 2014 Big Ten women’s tournament in Indianapolis — they face 11th-seeded Wisconsin at approximately 8 pm local time. Minnesota (19-11, 8-8 Big Ten) as the sixth seed goes into Indy on a modest two-game winning streak, but more importantly, especially for further post-season considerations, the Gophers have won seven of their last 11 contests. Although the team finished with a positive conference record for the first time since 2009, from now on U of M’s “second season” record must stay above .500. Continue Reading →

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Women in sport films festival features legendary college hoops coaches









By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


Besides Black History Month, February also honors the accomplishments of women and girls in sport. The University of Minnesota’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport for the past three years has held women’s film screenings at the Gopher football stadium to mark the occasion. Two films from last year’s ESPN’s “Nine for IX” series were featured at the 2014 Tucker Center Film Festival Feb. 6. Coach chronicles Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer, women’s basketball’s winningest active coach with 900+ wins. Continue Reading →

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