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P.J. Fleck to UCLA? He will be much better off in Minnesota

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P.J. Fleck to UCLA? He will be much better off in Minnesota


Barring an unforeseen turnaround, the Gophers football program’s best years are several decades in the past.

Their seven national titles — five of them between 1934 and 1941, and the most recent in 1960 — sometimes seem to serve as an anchor for the modern-day reality of the program.

It’s not realistic to think the Gophers will compete for seven more national titles. A modern day dream might be to have a team every five years that’s good enough to chase a spot in the expanded 12-team college football playoff.

That reality tends to obscure, though, the relatively solid footing the program has found in recent decades. If we can forget about most of the Tim Brewster Era — a memory trick most of us would enjoy — we find a program that has been downright decent for most of the last quarter-century.

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That includes the recent run for head coach P.J. Fleck, who produced 29 total wins in the three full seasons between 2019 and 2022. The program has been pretty good. The facilities are, dare we say, elite?

There are better jobs Fleck could realistically leave for, but not more than a handful.

But yes, old habits die hard. And every job opening that produces a list of potential candidates with Fleck’s name on it becomes a source of worry to some fans — as Patrick Reusse and I talked about on Monday’s Daily Delivery podcast.

The latest proof was a 24-hour tempest in a teapot: On Friday, we learned UCLA coach Chip Kelly was bolting to become Ohio State’s offensive coordinator. Fleck was listed as a top potential replacement at UCLA by several outlets.

The Gophers coach let it simmer for a bit, but by Saturday evening Fleck took time out from vacation to post this on Twitter/X: “Honored to be the Head Football Coach at Minnesota!! Ready for an ELITE 2024 season!! Now, back to our wedding anniversary trip!!”

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Fleck shutting down those rumblings wasn’t surprising, and we might never know how serious any of it was anyway. What might be a revelation to some is this: Minnesota is a much better job than UCLA, and Fleck leaving would have been bad for both the Gophers and the coach.

UCLA’s finances are a mess. Their name, image and likeness money is seemingly nonexistent. Their home stadium (the Rose Bowl) is 26.6 miles from their campus and was half-full on average last year. Whatever glory days existed are several decades old.

And now they are making a jump into the Big Ten. They have sunshine to sell, and not much else. Fleck has it better now than he would there, and the Gophers will benefit from continuity and stability.

Feel free to worry that Fleck might someday leave for a better job. Just make sure it’s one that’s actually worth it.

Here are four more things to know today:

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  • Reusse and I of course also talked about the Super Bowl, and he also had some good perspectives on the Twins after arriving early in Florida ahead of spring training.
  • What’s next for the 49ers after coming up short Sunday?
  • The Gophers men’s basketball team’s loss to Iowa on Sunday after leading by 20 points is one that hurts. It might hurt even more on Selection Sunday.
  • Star Tribune Vikings writer Ben Goessling will join Tuesday’s podcast to talk through all sorts of Vikings offseason scenarios. The new league year starts in a month, and GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is on the clock with a lot of big decisions.



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Minnesota's budget forecast shows improvement, $3.7B surplus projected

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Minnesota's budget forecast shows improvement, $3.7B surplus projected


Minnesota’s budget and economic outlook has shown improvement since the last budget forecast, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) said Thursday. 

The 2024-25 biennium is now projected to end with a surplus of $3.715 billion, which is an increase of $1.324 billion compared to the projections in November, MMB said. However, a budget deficit does loom. 

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“The near-term economic outlook has improved, with growth expected to persist through 2027,” MMB’s website states. “Higher collections so far this fiscal year raise the current biennium forecast for all major tax types. Corporate tax revenue shows the largest change, driven by higher-than-expected corporate profits through the forecast horizon. Spending estimates are largely unchanged from November.”

MMB added, “The higher revenue forecast throughout the FY 2024-27 planning horizon results in improvement to the structural budgetary balance, but spending is still projected to exceed revenue through FY 2027.”

Every two years, Minnesota politicians create a state budget, which they passed last spring. The projected budget surplus will allow Democrats to continue to shape state priorities as the party deems necessary, having control of the House, Senate, and governor’s office.

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This is a developing story. Officials plan to hold a press conference at 8:30 a.m. Watch it live in the player above. 



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Basketball Games on TV in Minnesota: Channel Info & Live Streams – February 29

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Basketball Games on TV in Minnesota: Channel Info & Live Streams – February 29


We’ve got 26 college hoops games to watch in Minnesota on Thursday, February 29 — one men’s, one women’s, and 24 high school. Interested in how to watch? You’ve come to the right place.

Sign up for Fubo, Max, ESPN+, and NFHS Network to make sure you don’t miss out watching a single basketball game.

Minnesota Men’s College Basketball Games Today

Omaha Mavericks at Saint Thomas Tommies

  • TV Channel: Summit League Network
  • Game Time: 8:00 PM ET

Minnesota Women’s College Basketball Games Today

Saint Thomas Tommies at Omaha Mavericks

Minnesota High School Basketball Games Today

Boys Basketball

Stream Live Game Time Location
Cloquet High School at
Proctor High School
Watch on NFHS Network 5:30 PM CT Proctor, MN
Washburn High School at
St. Anthony Village High School
Watch on NFHS Network 6:00 PM CT St. Anthony, MN
South St. Paul Secondary School at
Como Park High School
Watch on NFHS Network 7:00 PM CT Saint Paul, MN
Mora High School at
Spectrum High School
Watch on NFHS Network 7:00 PM CT Elk River, MN
Mesabi East High School at
Mountain Iron-Buhl High School
Watch on NFHS Network 7:00 PM CT Mountain Iron, MN
Wabasha-Kellogg High School at
Southland High School
Watch on NFHS Network 7:00 PM CT Adams, MN
Big Lake High School at
Chisago Lakes Area High School
Watch on NFHS Network 7:00 PM CT Lindstrom, MN
St Paul Academy and Summit School at
Trinity School at River Ridge
Watch on NFHS Network 7:00 PM CT Saint Paul, MN
Maple Grove Senior High School at
Rosemount High School
Watch on NFHS Network 7:00 PM CT Rosemount, MN
St Paul Central High School at
Minneapolis Southwest High School
Watch on NFHS Network 7:00 PM CT Minneapolis, MN
United Christian Academy at
Avail Academy High School
Watch on NFHS Network 7:00 PM CT Fridley, MN
Brandon-Evansville High School at
Ashby High School
Watch on NFHS Network 7:15 PM CT Ashby, MN
International Falls High School at
Littlefork-Big Falls High School
Watch on NFHS Network 7:15 PM CT Littlefork, MN

Girls Basketball

Stream Live Game Time Location
Luverne High School at
Fairmont High School
Watch on NFHS Network 6:00 PM CT Fairmont, MN
Aitkin High School at
Crosby-Ironton High School
Watch on NFHS Network 6:00 PM CT Crosby, MN
Deer River High School at
Chisholm High School
Watch on NFHS Network 6:00 PM CT Chisholm, MN
Rockford High School at
Southwest Christian High School
Watch on NFHS Network 7:00 PM CT Chaska, MN
Dassel-Cokato High School at
Blake School
Watch on NFHS Network 7:00 PM CT Minneapolis, MN
Liberty Classical Academy at
West Lutheran High School
Watch on NFHS Network 7:00 PM CT Minneapolis, MN
Sebeka High School at
Bertha-Hewitt High School
Watch on NFHS Network 7:00 PM CT Bertha, MN
Wadena Deer Creek High School at
Park Rapids Area High School
Watch on NFHS Network 7:00 PM CT Park Rapids, MN
Columbia Heights High School at
St Paul Academy and Summit School
Watch on NFHS Network 7:00 PM CT St. Paul, MN
Staples Motley High School at
Proctor High School
Watch on NFHS Network 7:30 PM CT Proctor, MN
Belle Plaine High School at
Tri-City United
Watch on NFHS Network 7:45 PM CT Montogomery, MN

© 2023 Data Skrive. All rights reserved.



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OPINION EXCHANGE | What in vitro fertilization meant to my Minnesota family

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OPINION EXCHANGE  |  What in vitro fertilization meant to my Minnesota family


Opinion editor’s note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes a mix of national and local commentaries online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.

•••

No young person planning to start a family imagines they will be one of the one in seven that will struggle with infertility. Similarly, no one imagines they or their partner will receive a cancer diagnosis.

My family is part of an unlucky, although not rare, group that has had to manage both.

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At a time when in vitro fertilization (IVF) and infertility treatments are making national headlines in the wake of the Alabama Supreme Court decision that ruled frozen embryos are considered human beings under state law, people all over the country are concerned about access to IVF and the ripple effect this will have across other states.

Ten years ago, my then-boyfriend Ryan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia — a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. He was 26. We had only been dating a year. We learned that the full-body radiation he needed would likely leave him infertile. Ryan decided to save his sperm.

While his cancer treatment was covered under insurance, fertility preservation was not — despite the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization defining infertility as a disease.

Thankfully, the cancer treatment was successful, and Ryan was in remission after a year. He did, however, have many post-treatment side effects like tooth deterioration, cataracts and osteonecrosis that all required care and expenses. He was also paying $300 a year to store his sperm.

In 2020 Ryan and I got engaged and thought about our future family. We tried to get pregnant without intervention but weren’t successful, which was no surprise due to Ryan’s health history. My physician recommended IVF but the costs start at $15,000 to $20,000. The process is also emotionally and physically draining.

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We were lucky that my employer-based health insurance covered some IVF costs, but we would still pay around $12,000 out-of-pocket. Many Minnesotans have no infertility coverage.

Cancer took away so much of a normal life for Ryan in his 20s. We were not willing to let it take away our dream to be parents. We went ahead with IVF, and it was successful on our first try. We welcomed our beautiful daughter, Kennedy, in June 2022. She is here today because of IVF.

Now she’s a toddler, and we want nothing more than to have a second child. We have two frozen embryos in storage, but we haven’t done IVF again because we’re not sure if we can afford it. To save as much money as we can, we’ve avoided planning a wedding. We’re paying $600 a year to store our embryos. Yet every year we wait, the less likely an IVF cycle is to be successful.

Now we have something in common with IVF couples in Alabama. They are unsure what the future holds for their frozen embryos. IVF clinics there are already pausing treatments as they weigh legal risks.

The Alabama decision is another clear sign we need to make sure the approximately 185,000 Minnesotans facing infertility have access to affordable care. The Minnesota Building Families Act would require state-regulated insurance to cover diagnoses and treatments for infertility, as well as standard fertility preservation services for medically induced infertility (e.g., for cancer patients). Twenty-one other states have already passed fertility insurance laws.

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No one desires to start a family by using IVF. However, it is often the only effective medical treatment option. Adoption can also be a wonderful choice, but it’s not for everyone and can even cost more than IVF. Would-be parents deserve options so they can choose to grow their family in the way that makes the most sense for them.

Dealing with cancer is difficult and life-changing. Having the additional burden of an infertility diagnosis should not come with a crippling cost for any hope of having a family.

It is more crucial than ever to take action and support the Minnesota Building Families Act to ensure that Minnesota is and remains a pro-baby, pro-family state, and that hopeful families get the infertility treatments they need.

Jennifer Stein is a Minnesota advocate for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She lives in Champlin with her fiancé, Ryan, and their daughter, Kennedy.

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