MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — University of Minnesota athletics director Joel Maturi will leave his post when his contract expires this summer.

School officials and the 67-year-old Maturi announced his retirement Thursday at a late morning news conference.

President Eric Kaler said he and Maturi spoke for several months and decided it’s “simply the right time for Joel to retire.”

An emotional Maturi said he’s turning 67 next week and the long hard hours are starting to tire him out.

“It’s been a great 10 years, it’s been a wonderful journey,” he said.

The news conference was held at TCF Bank Stadium, where the Gophers moved in 2009 after 28 seasons off campus and indoors at the Metrodome. The securing of public money and private donations to build the first new football stadium by a Big Ten school in a half-century was arguably the greatest success during Maturi’s 10 years in charge.

Hired to help merge separate men’s and women’s departments in 2002, Maturi, a native of Chisholm, Minn., had to sort through plenty of contention and dysfunction on the heels of a scandal and subsequent NCAA violations that jolted both the men’s and women’s basketball programs. He was often praised for the way he guided the players, coaches and staff for 25 varsity sports through the transition.

Maturi spearheaded successful efforts to save the men’s and women’s golf and men’s gymnastics teams during a budget crunch early in his tenure, and was a tireless supporter of every squad from basketball to swimming, putting in long hours, attending all kinds of games and events. Just last year he showed up at work the day after surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee.

But he became the target of frustration and criticism of angst-filled Gophers fans, who have watched the football program struggle through the last decade. Coach Glen Mason had some decent teams, but Maturi fired him after the 2006 season, a year after giving him a contract extension, and picked Tim Brewster to replace him. The first-time head coach never fulfilled his bombastic, lofty promises and was fired at midseason in 2010. Maturi hired Jerry Kill as his successor, and while Kill has been praised for his attitude and his work ethic the Gophers went 3-9 in his first year.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Chad Hartman Reports

Maturi kept Dan Monson as the men’s basketball coach through a series of mediocre seasons until dismissing him in November 2006. Maturi then persuaded Tubby Smith to leave Kentucky and come to Minnesota in March 2007, still arguably his most remarkable move as AD, but even Smith has yet to produce an NCAA tournament victory in his time with the Gophers.

Whether it was Mason, Brewster, Monson or Smith, the most prevalent criticism from the ticket-buying and game-watching public toward Maturi was his patience with coaches of underperforming major sports. He never apologized for that, either, placing greater priority on the academic record of those teams and integrity with which the programs were run. Maturi, in an interview with the AP last year, acknowledged the difficult of balancing those ideals with the big business of major college sports.

In that interview, he acknowledged keeping Monson around longer than he probably should have, recalling a conversation with then-President Robert Bruininks, who asked him if he believed Monson could become a consistent winner and NCAA tournament contender with the Gophers.

“You know what I told him? I said no,” Maturi said. “I thought the hole was so deep that he couldn’t get out of it. So he said, ‘Well, why don’t you fire him?’ I said, ‘Because if I did, I’d be sending the message to every one of our coaches that it’s only about winning.’ Dan took over in a difficult situation. He did get the kids to go to class. He didn’t cheat. He did all the things that were right, but he didn’t win enough. Eventually I had to dismiss him.”

Maturi in 2008 signed a contract extension that increased his annual salary to $345,000.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Sid Hartman Reacts To Maturi News

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (16)
  1. Joyce says:

    About time! Seriously, you can leave now and we also do not need you as a consultant in any capacity.

  2. maxey says:

    Nice, honest guy. But the football program is still in a shambles and the bloom is off Tubby’s rose.

  3. Real Talk says:

    na na na na hey hey hey GOODBYE!!!

  4. WOW says:

    Tuition going through the roof and they hire this moron as “special assistant to the president”???? Nice they can add a 100K position at the wink of an eye.
    I guess it’s true….it’s not who you know, it’s who you b**w…

    1. Marko says:

      100K assistant…try 345K assistant. That is what he made in his last year of work. Pathetic. The U is full over over-paid under performing Phds who couldn’t manage a McDonalds to profitability.

  5. Ski-U-Kiss-Mine says:

    Goes to show what close bed fellows academia is with the government.

    You were terrible at your job, let’s allow you to leave on your terms and while were at it create a special lifetime position for you to suck money from the taxpayers. Public University, more like Public embarrassment.

    My post will neve get past the WCCO socialist censors anyways.

    1. JBS says:

      I agrees with Ski-U-Kiss-Mine. Hes very smart. I bet you hes a rocket scintist but I hope he dont believe in evulashan or climates change cuz thats dont make no sennts.

      Oh I also get mades about them academiias and them guverment workers. We call them revenewers.

      Dont gets me started on them durn socialist censors always talking up public schools and such nonsence. I dont needs no book learnin. Ivs got common sennts.

      Got to go now tomy John Birch Society meeting.

  6. Little Tin God says:

    Well its about fbout frigging time! Maturi WAY overstayed his welcome!

  7. Goldy G says:

    Maturi didn’t lure Smith away from Kentucky. Maturi has stated that Smith’s agent called Maturi because Smith wanted out, most likely because they were going to get rid of him for lack of success.

    1. gandydancer says:

      ok…time to bring back tom w. from winona…now at akron. he knows the system. and he is a minnesota guy which fat pat r. says we need to get things back on track.

  8. Will says:

    Rhetoric in the sports arena is symptomatic of idiopathic urinary incontinence.

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