MINNEAPOLIS - The University of Minnesota football team is hosting its Spring Game on May 1 at TCF Bank Stadium, and the team will go to a couple of P.J. Fleck’s colleagues within the athletic department to lead each sideline.
The Gophers announced Thursday that women’s basketball coach Lindsay Whalen will lead the Maroon team, and new men’s basketball coach Ben Johnson will lead the Gold team. The winning team will take Goldy’s Cup, and the top player in the game will receive the Sid Hartman Spring Game MVP.
Whalen led the Gophers to the 2004 NCAA Women’s Final Four, won four WNBA titles with the Minnesota Lynx and is an Olympic gold medalist. Whalen just finished her third season as Gophers’ women’s basketball coach.
"I’m honored to be a guest coach for the spring game and am thrilled to be on the Maroon team," Whalen said. "I know a little something about winning Gold and have no doubt that we will win Goldy’s Cup on May 1. I think the closest Coach Johnson has come to Gold is when he was asked to be the team’s guest head coach."
Johnson was named the men’s basketball coach on March 22, replacing Richard Pitino after eight seasons. Johnson spent five seasons as an assistant for Pitino, and most recently was an assistant at Xavier. He also played his final three college seasons with Minnesota before graduating in 2005.
"It’s going to be exciting to be back on the football field helping lead the Gold team to victory," Johnson said "I was fortunate to have a lot of success on Minnesota football fields in high school and expect that to continue during the spring game on May 1. Coach Whalen may have two goal medals from her basketball days, but I have the advantage on the football field and the Maroon team will win Goldy’s Cup."
The Minnesota Spring Game will be played at 11 a.m. on May 1 at TCF Bank Stadium, and it will be broadcast live on Big Ten Network. The 10,000 allotted tickets for the game were claimed in about two hours. Fans planning to attend should bring both diapers for the teams annual diaper drive, and a decorated oar to be placed in the tunnel near the Gophers’ locker room.
Last year’s Gophers Spring Game was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two years ago, the game was moved indoors to the team’s practice facility and held without fans due to poor weather conditions. This will be the first Spring Game at TCF Bank Stadium since 2018.