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In 1896, a team from the school began to participate in a league with the Agriculture school, YMCA teams, and other local associations. Cooke, a director of the Minneapolis YMCA, was hired on a part-time basis to coach the basketball program, and became the full-time coach and director of physical education by the fall of that year.
The establishment of the Armory on-campus gave the team a new place to play. Cooke was one of the first full-time professional coaches in all of college basketball and would remain at the program for 28 seasons.
Among Thompson's teammates were former Minnesota Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards head coach Flip Saunders, as well as basketball hall of fame forward Kevin Mc Hale.
Trent Tucker led the 1982 squad to the Big Ten Championship.
Paul, later incorporated into the larger University of Minnesota Twin Cities.John Kundla took over as Gophers head coach after the Minneapolis Lakers departed for Los Angeles.Bill Fitch and Bill Musselman both coached the team for a couple seasons before departing for the NBA and ABA respectively, where each had success and coached for many years.The program has had a fair degree of stability with their coaching staff.Tubby Smith became the 16th head coach in Gopher basketball history when hired in 2007; this total includes interim coaches Jim Molinari and Jimmy Williams. On March 25, 2013, Tubby Smith was fired after failing to reach the Sweet Sixteen again. The Golden Gophers have had many successful players come through the program throughout its history.