Wednesday, December 1, 2010

And So It Goes...

More Funny Smells from

University of Minnesota

Athletics Department 
 President Bruininks?

From the Daily:

When new Director of Golf John Harris offered Katie Brenny the Gophers associate women’s head coaching position this summer, he was offering a job she never had a chance to perform, multiple sources closely connected with the program said

Brenny resigned in late October after just two months on the job and without traveling to any of the team’s four fall tournaments. 

The Minnesota Daily spoke with more than 10 people connected to the golf program, including half a dozen with intimate knowledge of the situation, about her brief and ambiguous tenure.

They corroborated a tale of a hiring under false pretenses, of Harris’ goal to promote his son-in-law Ernie Rose to head coach despite violating University of Minnesota hiring policy and of frustration among players and boosters with Harris’ extended absences while continuing a professional career he implied he would taper off.

University officials, including Athletics Director Joel Maturi, couldn’t comment on the resignation because of University policy about publicly addressing outstanding personnel matters. Harris declined to comment on any aspect of the story when reached by phone.

Maturi mentioned to Harris, according to an August interview Harris did with the Daily, that the position was available to him if he felt his golf career was coming to an end. Harris, 58, said that at some point while trying to find a replacement for James, he realized his competitive days were "unfortunately" winding down and decided to accept Maturi’s offer.

Though he’d never coached before, he beat out then-associate men’s head coach Andrew Tank, another top candidate for the job who soon after took the men’s head coaching position at Iowa State.

Harris informed then-associate women’s head coach Kris Wessinger that if she stayed on, her role would change, multiple sources said. About two weeks after Tank departed for Iowa State, Wessinger left to start the women’s golf program at St. Catherine’s College in St. Paul.

Even if Harris wanted to name Rosewho is married to Harris’ daughter and spent the previous season as an assistant coach under James — as Wessinger’s successor, he couldn’t. Like all University Professional and Administrative jobs, a head coaching position requires a bachelor’s degree, which Rose didn’t finish during his playing career at the University of South Carolina. So Harris promoted Rose to "Director of Instruction" — Rose’s title at Windsong Farm Golf Club in Independence, Minn. — and kept him on as an independent contractor rather than a University employee, skirting the qualification rule, sources said.

On July 12, Ebner e-mailed Maturi with concerns over the potential hire and warned that Harris’ "main objective is to hire his son-in-law (Ernie Rose) as men’s coach and eventually have Ernie take over. … Why does someone almost 60 and very wealthy, that has never showed interest in college golf (except that he played for the Gophers in the ‘70s), want to become a coach now? What are his motivations?"

"All [Maturi] listened to was John Harris," Ebner said. "Apparently John Harris was initially the guy that said, ‘I’ll help find the new coach.’ Then he ends up hiring himself."

With the task of filling both associate head coaching positions, Harris set out to find a women’s coach with a bachelor’s degree who could act as a figurehead while Rose did the coaching, Ebner and multiple sources said.

While he’d been upfront with Wessinger and James, who both declined to comment for the story, about his plans to let Rose act as coach, he made no mention of it when he contacted Brenny — who likewise had no coaching experience — about taking the job, multiple sources said.

According to Terrie Purdum, the publisher of Florida Golf Central magazine, for which Brenny writes a fitness column, Brenny thought she was taking "her dream job." She promptly quit her position as an assistant club professional at Pinehurst Golf Club in North Carolina, one of the most prestigious in the country, and moved back to Minnesota, where she won the 1998 state championship at Little Falls High School.

When she arrived, however, Harris disallowed her from talking with the team about golf, traveling to matches or recruiting off-campus, sources said. She was relegated to handling paperwork and interacting with players in a mentorship-only role. Well-liked by the players, she joined them each day for their 6 a.m. workouts but had to deflect questions regarding golf to Rose or Harris.

Meanwhile Rose, whose $49,500 salary was $5,500 more than Brenny’s (though as a contractor he didn’t receive employee benefits), performed all of the official women’s head coaching duties and was the lone coach that traveled with the team. A YouTube interview posted Nov. 5 by the athletics department even expressly labels Rose as "Women’s Golf Head Coach."

When Harris told the Daily in August that he took the job because his playing days were in their twilight years, he said he planned to play only "sparingly" the next few years.

Harris’ one-year, $110,000 contract states, "The University and Mr. Harris also acknowledge that he will from time to time participate in professional and amateur golf events which will not interfere with his duties as Director of Golf."

But in his first fall with the team, Harris played in three Champions Tour events, two of which coincided with men’s tournaments. He made $19,823 in those three tournaments and didn’t attend any of the four women’s events with Rose. He also missed National Signing Day while attending a corporate golf event in Florida.

Excellent article. 

As for skirting the rules, perhaps the athletic department is only imitating what has gone on in the AHC and Morrill Hall for some time? 

Lead faculty member?  Instead of Director?
And remember, we have done nothing illegal?

Scrupulous attention to the Open Meeting Law?


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