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Report: Gophers football coaching search 'nearing final stages'

University of Minnesota athletics director Joel Maturi told season-ticket holders and donors in a letter Tuesday that "we are now nearing the final stages of the process" of finding a football coach.

Maturi, who has traveled around the country interviewing several candidates in recent weeks, starts the letter by saying his intent is to hire a person who will "make you proud to be a donor" to the Gophers football program. Maturi said he has heard from fans and is still open to recommendations, and his goal is to "hire an experienced coach who can build a winning tradition."

"The fact that so many Gopher football fans have provided feedback is a good indication of how much people care about this program," Maturi said in the letter.

At the end of the letter, Maturi said large search committees do not hire the "high-profile coaches at major universities." He said the responsibility of the hire falls on him with "consultation" from university President Bob Bruininks.

"At the University of Minnesota, I want to make sure that your new football coach will embrace the rich history that has built such a strong foundation and connect with all of you who mean so much to our athletics and football program," Maturi said. "I asked that you please understand the need for confidentiality throughout this process. Please continue being supportive of Gopher Athletics and all of our student-athletes. When friends and family ask about this search please reassure them that you

have the confidence that we will find a coach of which we will all be proud."

Maturi said he would like to give season-ticket holders the chance to meet the new coach "at the earliest possible time."

The leading candidates for the coaching position are believed to be San Diego State coach Brady Hoke, Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, Temple coach Al Golden and Connecticut coach Randy Edsall.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.