Lucia Takes Over Gophers’ Top Spot

Don Lucia, one of the leading candidates for Minnesota’s vacant coaching position since former coach Doug Woog’s resignation last week, was named the Gophers’ 13th head coach at a press conference Friday at Mariucci Arena.

This is Lucia’s third head coaching position. He spent six years at Alaska-Fairbanks, where he led his team to four winning seasons and compiled a 113-87-10 record. In 1993 he took the head coaching position at Colorado College and completely revitalized the program, leading the Tigers to three WCHA regular-season titles, two Frozen Four appearances amid five straight NCAA tournament appearances and a 166-68-18 record.

“To be a part of the tradition … the banners, the murals, the band — I am very, very excited about this opportunity,” said Lucia. “Hopefully I can add to the tradition.”

Lucia signed a six-year contract, including a base salary of $125,000 per year. That’s less than the reported $160,000 per year — plus a $1 million annuity — which the Tigers offered.

A Notre Dame graduate, Lucia placed a strong emphasis on academics, saying, “I want a program that the university, community and state can be proud of on and off the ice.”

High academic standards were also a priority for the university, in light of current academic fraud allegations against the university’s basketball program.

His new job is a homecoming for Lucia, who grew up in Grand Rapids, Minn.

Said Lucia, “This is probably the only job I would have left Colorado College for.

“I’m looking forward to coming home to Minnesota, where hockey is king.”

Nonetheless, Lucia, who guided Alaska-Fairbanks to Division I before coming to Colorado College, suggested that he may not practice an all-Minnesota recruiting standard, though he did say that any out-of-state recruits would have to be “very special” and that he favors a roster consisting “mostly” of Minnesota players.