House GOP leader rips buyouts for U of M coaches
House Republicans are upset that the University of Minnesota will spend $4 million to $5 million to buy out ousted coaches Glen Mason and Dan Monson, and will try to make sure tax money isn't use to pay for such buyouts in the future.
St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) - House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, said the size of the payoffs doesn't make sense when the university wants the Legislature to increase its funding.
"That's a lot of money to get rid of a package of M&Ms," Seifert said, referring to the coaches' last names. "And the taxpayers in my district and all over the state are really upset about it."
Mason, the football coach, was fired on Dec. 31, about a month after Monson resigned as the men's basketball coach. Mason's severance agreement will cost an estimated $2.2 million, compared to $1.3 million for Monson.
University spokesman Dan Wolter said no tax money will be used for the buyouts. The state provides about a quarter of the university's revenues.
The university's athletic department will cover the costs out of its $50 million annual budget, the bulk of which comes from ticket sales, Wolter said. If the university takes out a short-term loan for the buyouts and new hires, the department would pay off the loan.
Wolter described the buyouts as typical for Division I college sports and in the "low to middle" range for Big Ten conference schools.
Seifert said he will ask DFL Rep. Tom Rukavina, who heads a higher education budget panel, to investigate the university's contracts with high-paid coaches. He will also ask the university's Board of Regents to examine "golden parachute" packages for coaches more closely and sign off on big hiring or firing moves.
Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, said she will introduce a bill to ban the university from using any state money - directly or indirectly - to cover buyouts for coaches.
University officials plan to meet with Seifert this week to discuss the buyouts.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)