Gophers lure KU football coach with six-year contract Mason moving to Minnesota

Thursday, December 12, 1996

Kansas' Glen Mason is on the verge of his third head football coaching job in a year.

Mason, who spent a week as Georgia's coach last December before returning for his ninth season at KU, will be named the next head coach at Minnesota at an 8 a.m. press conference today.

Mason will replace Jim Wacker, who resigned at the end of this season. Mason interviewed for the Minnesota job in 1991, but Wacker (16-39 over five seasons) landed the post instead.

Mason told the Minneapolis Star Tribune he was "sorry to leave Kansas," since he had "left a lot of blood and sweat in Kansas." He also said that he planned to take a few assistant coaches with him.

Mason flew to Minneapolis on Friday morning and by Friday evening had apparently hammered out an agreement. He reportedly agreed to a six-year contract calling for base salary of $500,000 a year.

Mason received a $100,000 raise when he returned to KU for his ninth season, making his package worth about $350,000 here. He was perpetually in the first year of a five-year rollover deal. There was no buyout clause on his contract and he received a substantial annuity.

As of late Friday night, neither KU Chancellor Bob Hemenway nor athletics director Bob Frederick had heard from Mason.

"The only thing I can really say," Frederick said, "is that, on Wednesday, Mark Dienhart, Minnesota's athletics director called and asked permission to talk to him. On Thursday evening, coach Mason said that he was going up there to talk to them."

When asked if he would have expected to hear from Mason if the reports were true, Hemenway said, "That would be up to him."

The Jayhawks went a disappointing 4-7 this past season - the same record as Minnesota - for the worst record in Mason's tenure since 1990. A year ago, KU was 10-2 and ranked in the top 10 in both national polls.

Interestingly, Mason's agent, Cleveland-based Neil Cornrich, tried to negotiate a deal with Minnesota for San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. Trestman reported requested a salary in excess of $500,000 - more than Ohio State's John Cooper and Northwestern's Gary Barnett - but, unable to reach an acceptable agreement, Trestman withdrew from consideration on Thursday.

On Friday, the Minnesota Board of Regents approved Mark Yudof, provost at the University of Texas at Austin, as the university's new president. The athletic department said it was waiting to finalize the selection of a coach until a new president was chosen.

Florida defensive coordinator Bob Stoops, a former Kansas State aide, turned down the head coaching job earlier. Washington State's Mike Price had done likewise earlier in the search.

Mason never publicly revealed his reasons for changing his mind on the Georgia job, but privately he revealed that custody of his tow children was the deciding factor. But the older child, Pat, is a freshman at KU this fall, and the daughter, Chris, is a junior at Lawrence High.

Mason was remarried last summer to Kate Blubaugh, a dentist who is in the process of selling the practice she shared with Brian Wilkerson, her former husband. Blubaugh is involved in litigation that would sever her financial ties to the practice.

The "fair market value" of her shares of stock in the practice has not yet been officially determined, putting legal action temporarily on hold.

In a court order dated Dec. 3, District Judge Robert Fairchild ordered Wilkerson to consent to the selection of an accounting firm or to designate another arbitrator by Dec. 15.

Blubaugh has three children from her former marriage and could run into the same out-of-state custody problem that prompted Mason to renege on Georgia.

Mason coached Kent State to a 5-6 season in 1986 and a 7-4 season in '87 before he came to Kansas.

In his first year at KU, in 1988, Mason went 1-10, followed by 4-7 and 3-7-1 before his first winning season - 6-5 - in 1991. In '92, Mason was 8-4 after coaching Kansas to victory in the Aloha Bowl.