In less than a month, one of the University of Minnesota’s most visible athletic buildings officially will be renamed for former athletic director Joel Maturi.
The school announced that Sept. 2 is the date the Sports Pavilion — home to Gophers volleyball, wrestling and gymnastics — will get its new name. Per a news release sent Tuesday:
The formal name for the facility will be the Joel Maturi University Sports Pavilion and the building’s exterior will bear the name “Maturi Pavilion.” Signs above the west and south entrances of the facility will be unveiled as part of a brief public ceremony beginning at 5 p.m., prior to the Gopher Volleyball’s 7 p.m. match that evening against Tennessee.
Maturi, who served as Gophers AD from 2002-12 and was known for his support of non-revenue sports, expressed gratitude. He said in the news release: “I have truly been blessed in my athletics journey. This is certainly the apex.”
When I last checked in on the U of M’s plans to rename the Pavilion in honor of Maturi several months ago, there was some controversy involved in the process. As the news release states, the renaming “is the culmination of a renaming process that began after the Senate All-University Honors Committee nominated Maturi for the recognition and the Board of Regents voted to approve that request in its December meeting.”
Some thought the approval of the renaming came through a process that didn’t involve enough public discussion, while others questioned whether Maturi deserved such an honor.
Board of Regents Chairman Dean Johnson said at the time, ““When you offer up an honor to an individual there at times will be someone who doesn’t agree. They voice their opinion for whatever kind of reason. I expect Joel Maturi has a lot of supporters but also detractors. In the end, (the naming vote) passed and the reality is that it will move forward. Is everyone happy? Mr. Maturi, in his capacity as AD, had difficult situations. You hire coaches, you fire coaches, you live and die on the amount of money you raise and the facilities you put together and your win-loss records. When I think of Joel Maturi I think of his ability to bring men’s and women’s athletes under one AD and give equal opportunity and competition to both.”