A bit of juicy University of Minnesota gossip popped up in a guest column on MinnPost.com, of all places.
The fresh campus rumor involves what was thought to be sacred: Mariucci Arena, home to the Golden Gophers men's hockey team, Minnesota's "Pride on Ice."
Marshall Tanick -- a lawyer and former president of the school's Alumni Society -- unleashed the notion last week, writing that the university's athletic department "is about to sell naming rights to the hockey arena, which has been named since its construction in 1993 for John Mariucci, the legendary Gophers hockey coach and 'godfather' of amateur hockey in this state."
As Tanick noted, "the hockey rink will lose some of its charm when its new appellation denotes a big money contributor, rather than the iconic hockey legend."
Tanick could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Though he didn't cite a source for his bombshell, it was enough to send some in the local hockey scene careening head first into the end boards.
The Daily Gopher website picked up the story, and the gopherpucklive.com message board, home to all things Golden Gopher hockey homer, produced some memorable suggestions, should the U should fall to the dark side.
Some possible renames for Mariucci Arena from commenters: Mariucci Arena at 3M Place, Tostitos Mariucci Arena, and Mittelstadt Arena, in honor of incoming freshmen from Eden Prairie High Casey Mittelstadt.
If Tanick's rumor is right, the U isn't about to offer confirmation."I think the prospect of revenue from naming rights is always out there, and that's true for a lot of colleges and their athletic departments," university spokesperson Paul Rovnak says. "We see more of it around the country every year. But near term, there are no plans to remove names like Mariucci, Williams, etc., from our venues."
The gossip does fit nicely with recent themes of money-greased moves at the U. The state's flagship university recently renamed its journalism school after the family of Stanley Hubbard, who has given $25 million to the school -- and gobs of campaign cash to journalist-haters like Scott Walker and Donald Trump.
Starting next year, athletes will practice their... excellence at the Land O'Lakes Center for Excellence. And the building across the street from Mariucci, the University's most recently built sports arena? It's called TCF Bank Stadium.
If a change does come, Gopher hockey alum Kevin Hartzell, who captained the 1979 team to a NCAA national championship, would feel more of nothing at all.
"I'm grown so cynical about college athletics, with all the money that's involved and priorities out-of-whack," he says. "I wouldn't even be disappointed because my expectations are so low."
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