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NCF Nation: Eric Kaler

Minnesota on Sunday named VCU athletic director Norwood Teague as the lone finalist for its vacant athletic director position.

Teague, who has led VCU's athletic department since 2006, will visit Minnesota's campus Monday and interview with university president Eric Kaler and the search advisory committee, and meet with coaches, faculty members and others. Given these tributes, his visit seems like a formality as he's clearly Minnesota's choice for the position.

Minnesota is looking to replace Joel Maturi, who announced in February he will retire from his post June 30.

Minnesota says Teague is one of approximately 40 candidates to apply for the position. The pool included women, people of color and non-traditional candidates.

Teague is best known for both hiring and retaining Shaka Smart, considered the nation's top young college basketball coach. Smart guided VCU to its first-ever Final Four appearance in 2011. Smart received opportunities to leave VCU after the Final Four run and after this past season, but he chose to remain.

Teague also has held positions at North Carolina, Arizona State and Virginia, including director of basketball operations for Virginia. Here's his VCU bio.

He has extensive basketball experience, but he hasn't led an athletic department with a varsity football program. Minnesota is certainly looking for a boost on the gridiron, where it hasn't captured a Big Ten title since 1967.
There will be new leadership in Minnesota's athletic department at the start of the 2012-13 sports season as Joel Maturi announced Thursday he will retire June 30.

Maturi's retirement isn't a major surprise, as many projected the 67-year-old to step down in the next year or so. Minnesota president Eric Kaler said Thursday that Maturi will work with him on fundraising and special projects following his retirement. Kaler said he and Maturi reached a mutual decision that Maturi would step down at the end of June.

Kaler said Minnesota will look both nationally an internally for Maturi's replacement, which Kaler expects to have in place by July 1.

How should Maturi's tenure as Minnesota's AD be viewed? The athletic program had no major scandals under his watch, which hadn't been the case in previous decades. He also helped bring football back to campus with the construction of TCF Bank Stadium, one of the best new facilities in college football. Maturi also made a splash with the hiring of men's basketball coach Tubby Smith in 2007.

But if ADs are ultimately judged by the success of their high-profile programs, Maturi fell short. His hiring of football coach Tim Brewster turned out very badly, and the prolonged search for Brewster's successor last year didn't look good, either. Maturi made some candid, eyebrow-raising comments after firing Brewster and during the process of hiring Jerry Kill.

From the (St. Paul) Pioneer Press:
Last season, his football team, his men's and women's basketball teams, and his men's hockey team all failed to make a national postseason appearance. The last time all four teams did not make a bowl or NCAA tournament was the 1997-98 season. The last time there was no bowl, NCAA tournament or NIT or WNIT appearance was the 1983-84 season.

Maturi also was criticized for buyouts paid to fired coaches like Brewster, former football coach Glen Mason and former basketball coach Dan Monson.

He seemed to have respect throughout Big Ten circles, and he was always forthright in our interactions.

"I know the job," Maturi said Thursday. "Many base my success on wins and losses. I'm not worried about Joel Maturi's legacy. I leave ... feeling good."

Maturi's departure doesn't significantly impact Kill, because it always seemed likely Maturi would step down before any decision on Kill's future would be made. Kill took the job knowing he'd likely have a new boss in the near future.

Then again, new athletic directors usually like to have their guys in place, and Kill will have to prove himself to Maturi's successor. It'll be interesting to see where Minnesota goes with the hire.

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