As the Minnesota Golden Gopher men's basketball team wraps up its season, the tenure of Richard Pitino may also be coming to an end. With rumors flying about Pitino's future, the Gophers may be on the hunt for his replacement.
An interesting name to follow could be San Diego State head coach Brian Dutcher. Dutcher is the son of Jim, who spent 11 seasons (1975-86) at Minnesota and led the Gophers to their last official Big Ten title during the 1981-82 season.
His lineage may be one reason the Gophers would be interested. The other may be the buyout clause in Dutcher's contract.
According to the San Diego-Union Tribune, the buyout for Dutcher's contract is $6.9 million ... unless he goes to Minnesota. Should Dutcher become the Gophers' new head coach, the university would pay a $1 million buyout.
“It’s Minnesota,” Wicker said when Dutcher signed a contract extension last September. “It means so much to him and his family. I feel comfortable if that’s something he really wanted to do, then OK. But I fully feel he has a better opportunity of being successful at San Diego State than he does in Minnesota. It would mean that he would want to go back for family-type reasons.”
The cost may be a factor in whether the Gophers decide to fire Pitino. The university had to make several cuts in the athletic department last fall and Pitino carries a $2.5 million buyout if he's fired before Apr. 30.
Dutcher has turned the Aztecs into a powerhouse during his four seasons at SDSU. The Aztecs have gone 93-30 under Dutcher including a 30-2 record during the 2019-20 season.
Dutcher's success, which includes three Mountain West Conference championships, would be welcomed at Minnesota. The Gophers are currently in their seventh losing season in the Big Ten during Pitino's eight seasons as head coach.
The Gophers started this season with an 11-4 record, but have lost nine of their past 11 games entering Saturday's regular-season finale against Rutgers.