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Tubby Smith out as U of M basketball coach

Legislators busy back in districts; Schulze returns as Best Buy chairman emeritus; Burnsville getting tough with thrift stores; Mayo data mining; pull-tab predictions; and more.

Tubby Smith is out at the U of M, although as of shortly after 1 p.m., the basketball coach was saying that no one had told him. Mila Koumpilova and Charley Walters at the PiPress report: The University of Minnesota has fired basketball coach Tubby Smith, Board of Regents chair Linda Cohen told the Pioneer Press on Monday, March 25 —although Smith says nobody has told him that. Cohen said she received a voice message at 8 a.m. from the university’s president, Eric Kaler, saying Smith was being replaced. “With the very up-and-down season we’ve had — sometimes spectacular and sometimes disappointing — the regents were aware that might be an issue,” she said. “I don’t think it would come as a surprise to any of the regents.”

And you have to be amused at Sid Hartman’s explanations for Gopher coach Tubby Smith’s disappointing season. In his Strib column this morning, Sid said: “[S]ome in the media and some of the boosters who don’t know all the handicaps a coach operates under at Minnesota are calling for Tubby Smith to be bought out. Yes, the Gophers basketball coach plays his games in an 82-year-old arena, by far the oldest in the Big Ten, an arena the local fans love but which doesn’t impress out-of-state recruits. Unlike most major-conference schools, the university doesn’t have a practice facility to help recruiting, and it has one of the lowest basketball budgets in the conference.” Personally, I think it’s a disgrace that the Women’s Hockey team — national champs — have to play in an arena with a piddly 3,400 capacity.

In the PiPress, Marcus Fuller wrote before the Smith news: “As for Smith’s job being in jeopardy, he said he’s not even thinking about that. ‘That’s the last thing on my mind’, he said. ‘I always sit down with (the athletic director) after the season. I don’t care if it was with Joel (Maturi) or at Kentucky, Tulsa or Georgia. You’ve sit down and discuss the program, whether it’s good or bad. You’ve got to talk about what you do next or what went wrong or how can we help you.’ Smith received a contract extension through 2016-17 last July. He could have earned a $200,000 bonus and another year by reaching the Sweet 16. But he still receives $100,000 for reaching the NCAA tournament and $150,000 for winning a tournament game. One thing that didn’t change with the Gophers’ one NCAA tournament win was the $2.5 million buyout in his amended contract.”

As part of their solemn religious observances, the state’s legislators will be talking up (or down) the budget with the folks back in the district. Tim Pugmire at MPR says: “Gov. Mark Dayton will also be talking about the budget during town hall meetings scheduled in Moorhead and St. Cloud. … House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said Republicans will be spending the week talking about the problems they see in the DFL budget proposals. He plans to travel throughout the state pointing out the problems he sees with the DFL budget proposals. ‘Minnesota’s economy is [recovering] and Minnesota’s economy is creating jobs, and it’s happening because we didn’t raise taxes over the last couple of years,’ Daudt asserted. ‘Our case is, if we raise taxes, we’re going to stop that from happening, and it’s going to be bad for Minnesota’s economy and it’s bad for hard working Minnesota families.’ “

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Richard Schulze’s Best Buy … buy-back … may have jumped the tracks. But there are other ways to drive a train. The AP says: “Schulze is returning to the Best Buy fold as chairman emeritus. The move comes after Schulze considered making a buyout bid for the electronics retailer but never made a formal offer. Schulze is also nominating two former Best Buy executives to the board: former CEO Brad Anderson and former Chief Operating Officer Al Lenzmeier to the board.”

The GleanA slight twist on “suicide by police” … Paul Walsh of the Strib writes: “A violent and armed felon sped his Harley head-on into a parked State Patrol cruiser on a southwestern Minnesota highway and was thrown to his death, authorities said Monday. The crash on Cottonwood County Rd. 10, about 25 miles northwest of Windom, killed Chad R. Danneman, 33, of Slayton, Minn., according to the State Patrol. According to the patrol: Danneman, armed with a knife, had eluded separate pursuits by deputies from the Cottonwood and Murray County sheriff’s offices. Soon after, Trooper Stearns was heading east on County Rd. 10 near County Rd. 5 and spotted Danneman on his motorcycle ahead of him. Stearns came to a stop and activated his emergency lights. Danneman raced toward the squad car and struck it head-on. Danneman flew off his motorcycle and was dead at the scene.”

I know I feel better … . Laurie Blake of the Strib tells us authorities are getting tough with … thrift stores: “Three months after halting ARC Greater Twin Cities’ from opening in Burnsville until it could study city policy on thrift stores, the City Council has a new staff report showing the city has 17 second-hand stores — more than any neighboring community. The question for council members now is whether they want to regulate thrift stores more closely. … Common perception is that thrift stores locate in marginal retail areas and contribute to their decline, the study found. But thrift stores are growing in popularity, and their appeal extends beyond low-income households to more affluent ones, according to the study.” There is no truth to the rumor that ARC is opening a store in the Galleria.

Lorna Benson at MPR has a story about Mayo’s data mining: “It’s not unusual for a health care provider to mine the medical records of its patients for research. But gaining access to the medical records of virtually an entire county is a far greater challenge. Since 1966, the Mayo Clinic has collected as many medical records as possible in Minnesota’s Olmsted County to generate powerful studies that help save lives. The Rochester Epidemiology Project has a treasure trove of close to 600,000 medical records. The health data have generated more than 2,000 studies and provided groundbreaking information on a variety of conditions, including heart disease and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). After nearly 50 years of success, the project is expanding to include patients from seven other southeastern Minnesota counties, which will help researchers broaden its database.”

Also at MPR, Tim Nelson reacts to Jean Hopfensperger’s Strib story on who predicted an easy windfall from e-pulltabs: “[T]he only people who would hazard a guess were the suppliers of the games themselves, and now that guess is proving distressingly off — a $100 million per month industry is looking more like a $2 million a month industry for now. That’s despite state assurances about the projections last year. The revenue department even put out a charity-by-charity estimate of the likely gains for gambling operators. ‘They’re reasonable, they’re actually conservative in some ways,’ said revenue commissioner Myron Frans at the time. ‘But they are a projection.’ ” Actually, more like a mirage.

Next door, Gov. Scott Walker is still pushing school vouchers. Scott Bauer of the AP says: “ … Walker is proposing an expansion of the state’s school voucher program to nine additional cities, causing a deep [di]vision over education funding. Walker’s plan to expand vouchers, in which taxpayers are paid a subsidy to send their children to private school, has been a lightning rod of criticism since the governor proposed it last month. Even Senate Republicans, who say they support growing the program, have said it won’t happen as Walker proposed. But a new statewide poll shows the public can be swayed in its opinion of the program.”