Application for position of head coach of the U of M men’s basketball team


Dear Mr. Teague:

I hereby apply for the position of University of Minnesota men’s basketball head coach, which I understand is now available. In this email I shall briefly discuss my experience, my expectations in terms of salary and benefits, and a few intangibles that might make me a surprisingly good choice.

I am a 66-year-old native Minnesotan who, except for a year in New York City and another year as a Vista Volunteer, has lived virtually my entire life in the state. Given my age, which I will discuss further below, I think you need not worry I will be using this position as a stepping stone for another head coaching position. I am an alumnus of the University of Minnesota, with a B.A. in philosophy and a J.D. from the law school. My full commitment will be to the Gophers. I’d say I bleed Maroon and Gold, but I’m sure you’ve heard that one before.

Experience. While I did not play basketball at the college level, that is far from a necessity in being a successful college coach. Consider the following coaches who never played college basketball: Tom Crean (Marquette and Indiana) who coached his team to the top seed in this year’s NCAA tournament and whose team just made the Sweet Sixteen; Frank Martin (Kansas State and South Carolina) who took his team to four NCAA tournaments in five years; Rick Majerus (Marquette, Ball State, Utah and St. Louis), who unfortunately recently passed away, but whose Utah team was NCAA runners-up in 1998; Roy Williams, who only played JV college basketball; and three others in last year’s NCAA Sweet Sixteen — Scott Drew (Baylor), Buzz Williams (Marquette), and Mike Cronin (Cincinnati).

I also did not play basketball for my high school varsity team (Minneapolis North), but I was on the sophomore team, which, while I played only a few minutes in one game, compiled a 20-0 record. About 60 players tried out for those 20 team positions, so at 5’2″, making that team was quite an accomplishment.

I did play for my A.Z.A. team, and although I got no points in a regional A.Z.A. tournament’s championship game — which we still won — I was selected for the all-star team. One of your department’s long-time boosters, Len Levine (Leonard W. Levine & Associates, Inc., was the coordinator of that tournament and apparently was impressed with my court sense.

When I was an undergraduate at the University, for one year I did coach the all-star basketball team of the Minneapolis Jewish Community Center high school league. I remember Lou Holtz once said, “We may be small, but we’re slow.” That team was small — the center was only 5’11” — but scrappy. I do believe they played well above their heads, so to speak, and I am sure the members of that team would support me in this application. I might also point out that we had a 100% graduation rate. All of them graduated from high school, and that was without me even monitoring the courses they were taking or making sure they were going to class. Most if not all of them graduated from college as well.

Anyhow, as we all know, coaching basketball ain’t rocket science. Of course, you have my solemn word that I will not reveal that little secret either to the public or to the rocket scientists. I will study long and hard to learn the basketball jargon that makes the game seem intricate and mysterious. (I actually did read a couple of books for that first coaching position.)

Expectations. Now we get to the heart of the matter — money. When I applied for the head football coaching position two and 1/2 years ago, I requested that my salary be the same as the per capita median income in the State of Minnesota. That figure was $42,368 in 2008-09, and I wrote that I would settle for $40,000, plus an MTC bus pass for the winter months. Now I see the figure for 2010 was $42,847, but I will still offer to do the job for $40,000 — plus the bus pass during the winter, of course. (I get around on my bicycle during the rest of the year.)

Other than a standard health insurance plan, I will not require any other income or benefits for myself. I will not need any basketball camps, any outside contracts or income from endorsements or use of equipment, any under-the-table money from boosters, or any buy-out clause in my contract. And now that I am on Medicare, you will even be saving on the health insurance compared to the last time I applied.

I am told, however, that since my previous application, your revenue streams have increased significantly. I understand that the increasing Big Ten Network revenues from an expanded marketing area (with Rutgers and Maryland joining the conference) and from the new Big Ten Men’s Hockey Conference will be a big boost to the Department of Athletics’ budget.

I was disturbed by your selling $900,000+ worth of beer at Gopher games and losing money. Nearly half a century ago, I sold popcorn, hot dogs and beer at Twins and Vikings games, and I guarantee that we will turn those losses into substantial profits.

Given this rosy financial picture, I request that the amount of money you save by my minimal salary requirements be used to endow a chair in the University’s Philosophy Department. External Relations at the U has informed me that the standard amount for such a chair is $2,000,000. Coincidentally, Tubby was making right around that figure, but I could see using two years of savings to endow that chair.

The benefits are obvious: what a public relations coup this would be for the Athletics Department. What better way could there be for integrating athletics and academics? Alumni will undoubtedly be proud of such a progressive institution, which will likely mean increased contributions for athletics and academics.

An individual very close to President Kaler suggested that the chair be called the Marv Davidov Chair of Political Ethics. Marv, who passed away last year, was a sports nut, a devout follower of the Gophers, and a life-long activist for peace and justice issues. I would be open to other suggestions, but I can’t think of a more appropriate choice.

I do appreciate that you are paying schools not to play us and coaches not to coach. So I would be willing to negotiate the starting period for money going to endow that chair. Moreover, after a couple of years of those payments, the Department of Athletics would save an incredible amount of money in not having to pay me the absurd amounts being paid today to college coaches.

In that regard, I noticed Board of Regents Chairwoman Linda Cohen’s comment about “big money in college athletics,” as quoted in the StarTribune: “I think it’s a national issue,” she said. “I hope maybe across the country we’ll begin to address it.” I am giving you the opportunity of a lifetime to make her words prophetic.

I see on the website that currently there is an associate head coach, two assistant coaches, a director of basketball operations, a special assistant to the head coach, a video coordinator, an executive assistant, and an assistant to the recruiting coordinator. I don’t know if those are all fulltime positions, but I think we will be able to do those jobs with fewer people. For example, I will only need one other coach to assist me. I have no children so will not need you to give a staff position to my successor.

As in my previous application, there will be gender equity on my staff and Second Amendment rights for all the players. That should take care of any DFLers or GOPers who might think it strange that you would hire me.

Intangibles. I know coaching the basketball team means inspiring the whole state. I bring with me my ties in greater Minnesota. I have spent considerable time in western Minnesota, specifically in Redwood Falls. And after being transferred from El Reno Federal Reformatory — getting a 10-day stay at Leavenworth Penitentiary en route — I spent about a year and a half in Sandstone, Minnesota, in the Sandstone Federal Correctional Institution. Such are the vicissitudes of life. (Just try getting Lou Holtz to say that word.)

Perhaps I should have mentioned this in the “Experience” section, but while incarcerated at Sandstone F.C.I., I was the starting guard on the championship team in the winter basketball league of 1972-73. We played a physical style, to say the least, much like the basketball played in the Big Ten.

I bring other intangibles too. I had an account at Twin City Federal until I closed it a couple of years ago. That account, while it never had more than $25 in it for the last decade or so, had been open for nearly half a century. I think of myself as an important contributor to TCF Bank Stadium. In addition, to my best knowledge — or at least I haven’t heard to the contrary — I am a “close personal friend” of Sid Hartman.

I realize you may have some concerns about my age. There are not many Division 1 basketball coaches older than 65. My guess is it’s because they must burn out on such a stressful job. Of course I would be just starting out, so burnout shouldn’t be a problem. Plus what could be more stressful than being the Pope? And the new one is 76.

Finally, and most importantly, I know a big part of this job involves motivating people. Given my background and my qualifications, if you should hire me, I believe that fact alone would attest to my ability to motivate. After all, I would have motivated you to hire me. Q.E.D.

Since I hate to lose, I would not have submitted this application if I thought you would not treat it seriously. If you need any further information, please let me know. I look forward to the interview process.

One final note. I just heard you say at your press conference that you have a short list. Since high school, I have shrunk an inch — I am now 5’1″ — so I have no doubt that I will be on that list.


Chuck Turchick

P.S. I know you have some candidates with flashy names like “Shaka” or “Flip,” but I am willing to negotiate that as well.