Joel Maturi athletics director
In his eighth year as director of athletics at the University of Minnesota, Joel Maturi has engineered a complete transformation of Golden Gopher athletics. Since being named the first director of athletics of Minnesota’s merged men’s and women’s departments on July 12, 2002, Maturi has combined an uncompromising vision of the future and his unique brand of leadership with a tireless dedication to guide Gopher athletics on a clear course toward becoming a model NCAA Division I athletics department. A native of Chisholm, Minn., Maturi’s tenure at Minnesota has been marked by significant positive change in virtually every aspect of the department. And from his focused efforts has emerged a level of broadbased achievement that year after year places Gopher athletics among the nation’s most successful overall programs. Looking back, it’s easy to discern the building blocks of Minnesota’s success under Maturi. Fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets and refocused fund-raising efforts have yielded increased opportunities and unprecedented growth. The development of a first-class academic support program continues to see Gopher student-athletes earn their degrees at ever improving rates. A renewed emphasis on NCAA compliance has ushered in a new era of integrity. And a distinctive ability to foster cooperation as a key and trusted member of University Robert Bruininks’ leadership team has resulted in unprecedented levels of cross-campus collaboration. The rapidly evolving world of intercollegiate athletics in the 21st century requires bold and innovative leadership. And that’s exactly what Maturi brought to his home state’s flagship university when he assumed the helm of Gopher athletics in the summer of 2002. To say that Minnesota’s athletics department was at a tipping point when Maturi arrived is to perhaps understate the challenges facing the program. Gopher athletics was projected to run a $31 million deficit over the next four years and in order to help cope planned to eliminate three sports. Building a state-of-the-art stadium to bring football back to campus was considered a pipe dream. Undaunted, Maturi swiftly set in motion a plan to restore the financial integrity of Gopher athletics. Balanced budgets followed and all three sports were retained. Most significantly, however, the dream of returning Gopher football to its rightful place campus is now a reality as Minnesota opened the doors to the 50,000-seat TCF Bank Stadium – the Big Ten’s first new on-campus football stadium built since 1960. Upgrades to virtually every Minnesota athletics facility have also taken place under Maturi, including a $600,000 renovation of the playing surface of historic Williams Arena this past summer, and funds are currently being raised to support the construction of a new stadium for Gopher baseball. In addition to leading the way to meet the Gophers’ needs for world-class facilities, Maturi’s tenure has been marked by continual athletic and academic success by Minnesota’s 25-sport department. Gopher athletic programs have accumulated four national championships, 30 Big Ten or WCHA regular season titles and five conference postseason crowns. Minnesota has also placed in the top 30 of the Learfield Directors’ Cup final standing each year of his term, including a 14th-place finish in 2008-09 that ranks as the third-best finish in school history that saw Gopher teams claim six conference titles, advance 20 teams to postseason competition, produce 40 first team All-Big Ten honorees and 41 All-Americans, 257 academic all-conference selections (second-most in the Big Ten) and 12 CoSIDA academic all-district award winners. Minnesota was also among just a handful of programs to see its football team earn a bowl berth (Insight Bowl) and have both its men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as its baseball program qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Gopher women’s hockey, meanwhile, made its sixth appearance in the Frozen Four. Gopher athletics once again was trusted to host several prestigious postseason championships during 2008-09, headlined by NCAA first- and second-round competitions in both men’s basketball and men’s ice hockey as well as the men’s gymnastics championships. It was hardly an unprecedented season under Maturi for the Gophers, who claimed three Big Ten crowns, advance 16 sports to postseason play, produce 225 academic all-conference selections and 19 academic alldistrict honorees in 2007-08. The 2006-07 season was a banner year as well as wrestling won its third NCAA championship in the seven years. The Gopher wrestlers were also one of six teams to take home conference championships. The men’s swimming and diving team won its fifth Big Ten title in seven years and placed 10th at the NCAA Championships. The men’s hockey team won the WCHA regular season and Final Five titles while the women’s indoor track and field team won its first Big Ten crown. Rowing also won its first Big Ten title and posted a program-best sixth place finish at the NCAA Championships. Men’s golf added its third Big Ten title since 2002 and posted a strong ninth place finish at the NCAA Finals. The football team reached a bowl game for the fifth consecutive season with a bid to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz. The Gopher athletic department finished 20th in the Director’s Cup in 2006-07, marking the 13th straight year that Minnesota has placed in the top 25 of the rankings that chart overall athletic success among all NCAA Division I programs. During the 2005-06 academic year, Maturi guided a department that produced 32 All-Americans, four conference championships and 22 individual conference championships. Minnesota also produced 40 firstteam All-Conference performers, five Academic All-Americans and 14 Academic All-District honorees. The Gopher wrestling and women’s hockey team each finished second in the nation, while men’s golf (3rd), women’s cross country (9th), men’s gymnastics (9th) and men’s swimming & diving (11th) added four more top-15 national finishes. Wrestling, women’s gymnastics, men’s hockey and women’s track & field each won Big Ten Conference team titles. Overall, 16 of the Gophers’ 25 sports finished in the top three of the conference during 2005-06, and 19 of the 25 teams advanced to NCAA postseason competition. The Gopher football team qualified for its fourth consecutive bowl game and sixth in the past seven years with a trip to the Music City Bowl. The department also was involved in hosting several Big Ten, WCHA and NCAA Championships during the year, most notably the 2006 Division I Men’s Basketball Minneapolis Region Championship and the 2006 NCAA Women’s Frozen Four. Women’s rowing had its highest finish ever at the Big Ten Championships, rowing to a second-place finish on Lake Phalen in St. Paul. The Baseline Tennis Center hosted the Big Ten men’s tennis championships for the first time, while Ridder and Mariucci Hockey Arenas hosted women’s and men’s WCHA first round competition, respectively. In March of 2007, Minnesota became the first school to ever host the
NCAA Men’s and Women’s Division I Swimming & Diving Championships in consecutive weeks. Across University Avenue, Williams Arena hosted the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball First and Second Rounds for the third time in four years. In 2003-04, the women’s hockey team won the national title for the second straight season while three women’s programs (women’s basketball, volleyball and women’s basketball) all reached their respective NCAA Final Fours. Volleyball made the championship match and basketball qualified for its first national semifinal. The Gophers won four conference titles in 2003-04 and two conference postseason titles. In Maturi’s first year as athletic director, Minnesota won five regular season titles while the men’s hockey team won the WCHA Final Five and continued the momentum into the NCAA Tournament where it won its second straight national championship. Academically, the Gophers had 222 student-athletes earn Big Ten All-Academic status during the 200607 academic year, the third most in the conference. On the academic front, over 50 percent of Gopher student-athletes have maintained a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and 27 student-athletes have earned Academic All-America status during Maturi’s tenure. The foundation for Gopher football’s return to campus was laid during the 2004-05 academic year, when Maturi was instrumental in adding credibility to the Gopher stadium campaign by negotiating a $35 million corporate sponsorship with TCF Bank for naming rights to the new on-campus stadium. It was the largest corporate sponsorship of its kind involving college football. Maturi’s efforts were even more legitimized in May 2006 when the Minnesota State Legislature approved overwhelmingly to support the Gopher football return to campus. The bipartisan vote will allocate $137 million to the $288.5 million project. In addition to TCF Bank Stadium and the new playing surface in Williams Arena, Maturi has overseen complete renovations to both the men’s and women’s basketball locker rooms and the football training and equipment rooms in the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex. In March of 2007, Maturi oversaw the grand opening ceremony for a new boathouse that serves as the home of the women’s rowing program on the MIssissippi River. Maturi, 64, increased his leadership role within the Big Ten and NCAA during the past few years by being named to several prominent committees, most notably the NCAA Division I Management Council. He has served as the Management Council’s liaison to the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for the past year. Maturi is has also served as a member of the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee, and will chair this committee during the 2007-08 season. Prior to his arrival, Maturi was the Director of Athletics at Miami University (Ohio). At Miami, Maturi was responsible for the management and leadership of 19 sports programs, all support staffs and nearly 600 student-athletes. His first season at Miami was an extremely successful one. The synchronized skating team won a national championship, the men’s basketball team reached the NCAA Sweet 16, the volleyball team earned its first NCAA Tournament win, the men’s cross country team advanced to the NCAA meet and the football team won 10 games against an impressive schedule. That year, six teams won Mid-American Conference titles while five coaches garnered Coach of the Year honors. During his tenure at Miami, Maturi spearheaded fund-raising efforts for two important and necessary projects. In his final year, the Walter L. Gross Jr. Family Student-Athlete Development Center was opened and a new baseball field, McKie Field at Hayden Park, was dedicated. Maturi also made an impact on the campus and the community in Oxford, Ohio. He was a recipient of a Campus Impact Award, received an award from the Butler County Board of Mental Retardation & Developmental Disabilities for his efforts to help those in need, the Miami Alumni Association’s A.K. Morris Award for his service to the Association and the Myrtis Powell Building Community Award. In addition, he chaired the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) executive council in 2001-02, and also served as the chair of the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Committee for Region 4 and was the liaison for the men’s basketball coaches in the MAC. Prior to his time at Miami, Maturi served as the Director of Athletics at the University of Denver from 1996-98. At Denver, Maturi led the school’s move from Division II to Division I and oversaw the search for Division I conference affiliation. Maturi also assisted in the planning and development of a $50 million Sports and Wellness Center and a $2.1 million tennis complex. Maturi is no stranger to the Big Ten. From 1987-96, he worked at the University of Wisconsin. While there, he assisted in taking the financially challenged and struggling athletics program to profitability and success. From 1992-96, he was the Associate Director of Athletics with direct responsibility for all aspects of the football, ice hockey, wrestling, softball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s rowing, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field teams, as well as the office of academic affairs. He also chaired the Department’s “Support” Program, a wellness program for student-athletes and staff. Maturi was named the Wisconsin Sports Person of the Year in 1993. Before entering the college ranks, Maturi spent 19 years as a high school coach and administrator at Madison Edgewood High School. He coached football, basketball, baseball and track and field, leading his teams to 10 state tournaments. Maturi was inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. Maturi received a B.A. in government from the University of Notre Dame in 1967. He also served on the support staff of Ara Parseghian’s first national championship team. He earned a master’s degree and certification for educational administration from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 1985. Maturi and his wife, Lois, have three grown children, Mark, Katie and Anne.
55 * Minnesota Basketball
Published on Dec 1, 2009