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Key DFLer: Tubby's buyout was 'obscene'

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The House Higher Education Committee chairman is calling the $2.5 million contract buyout for fired University of Minnesota basketball coach Tubby Smith "obscene."

Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona, said it could hurt the university's chances of receiving the state funding it wants for future sports facilities.

He said the buyout shows that the university can afford to pay more of the cost of construction.

"When we have the bonding hearings, if there is anything relating to athletics, this will be a topic of conversation," Pelowski said. "Because you're now talking millions of dollars that are apparently available that could just as well go into buildings as paying someone not to do anything — or paying someone to do an incredibly mediocre job."

The university wants to build a basketball practice facility as part of a master building plan that could cost as much as $125 million. Athletic Director Norwood Teague told reporters in February the university has considered asking the state to help pay for the project.