Attorney Tom Moe agreed to a seven-month gig as interim men's athletics director at Minnesota, where his unofficial title will be chief negotiator.
Moe, 61, a three-sport star for the Golden Gophers 40 years ago, said his top priority was redoing the contract of football coach Glen Mason, who guided Minnesota (8-3) to its best season in 32 years.
Mason was Big Ten coach of the year and recently flirted with Louisiana State and Michigan State about their coaching jobs, prompting university president Mark Yudof to pledge a hefty pay raise from Mason's roughly $500,000 annual compensation package.
"I expect to play a lead role in the negotiations of that contract," Moe said Monday at a news conference where he was introduced.
Moe replaced Mark Dienhart, a victim of the scandal that rocked the athletic department this year. However, negotiations were under way to keep Dienhart aboard in a consulting capacity, said Tonya Moten Brown, Yudof's chief of staff.
A university report released Nov. 19 outlined widespread academic misconduct in the men's basketball program under Clem Haskins, who took a $1.5 million buyout of his contract last summer. Dienhart and McKinley Boston, vice president for student development and athletics, resigned after being told their contracts would not be renewed after June 30.
Dienhart was given the option of fulfilling his $120,000 contract through June 1 but said he'd step down Monday instead, forfeiting about half his salary.
"We all realize that a slightly longer transition is healthier for the program," Brown said.
Brown said the university wants a long-term commitment from Mason, who isn't even halfway through his original seven-year deal but could break his contract after Dec. 31 without penalty.
Moe, 61, is a former managing partner in the law firm Dorsey & Whitney. He retired in April from that post but remained chairman until Monday, when he took a leave of absence from the firm.
Brown said a search committee would convene in early January with the goal of hiring a full-time men's athletics director by the start of the 2000-2001 school year. Brown said she didn't know if Moe would have any say in the choice of his successor.
Moe said he wasn't a candidate for the permanent post.
"There's no chance," said Moe, who will return to Dorsey & Whitney after a permanent AD is hired.
Moe, the football team's MVP in 1959 and a member of the national championship baseball team in 1960, said he had no qualms when Yudof asked him two weeks ago to serve as interim AD.
"I recognize that even though the answer was easy, the job will be far from easy, Moe said.
Aside from renegotiating Mason's contract, Moe said his goal is to restore public confidence in the department.
"An important part of my job will be to assist in the healing process," he said.
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