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.