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State of UND athletics 2019-forward


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This is not a men's basketball-specific post. Not sure how to link this to all sports forums at UND, which it very well could be, but it's apparent in the last 18 months the state of UND's athletics is trending downward. I'm an alum and follower (not a big follower of sports), but it's concerning right now where we are at compared to our peer schools in the region.

I know AD Chaves has not been on the job long, but he's going to have to his work cut out over the next off season to begin to get this institution's athletics on a positive trajectory. I wish him well.

Many of the so-called high-profile sports are sputtering and apathy and drop in donor/alumni support are concerns.

Thoughts

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Yes he does have big job ahead of him. First of all when they waved white flag two years ago I think it was straw that broke the camels back.  Also this current president of university hasn't helped one bit and then we had Ed Schafer's short term presidency that what he couldn't get done as governor he did when he was interim president for the university. The political correct crowd at the university may have won the press and some of the public over but they never thought about what alumni and boosters thought and wanted. This group is different group that have way different attitudes and beliefs the what political correct culture has in academic world. When this group concerns and wishes were ignored they in turn just lost interest in supporting the university at level it had in the past. Then we had interim president mandating huge budget cuts to the university with athletic department dropping Baseball, Mens and Womens swimming and women's hockey.  This is after university had just got done improving facilities for these sports or had state of art facilities for these programs.  Then to top it off we have president that is running fight with family of one largest donors to university to point this family is not speaking to him and have limited their contact with University.  Then we have on going fight with another of long term donors over golf course that was also was closed and sold off. These are things I know of that are public knowledge to average person. Then we get into former alumni from Womens  hockey program that were at Olympics that won gold medals and bronze for their countries that expressed their opinion on what UND had done.  If you were trying to wreck alumni and booster moral you couldn't do much better job of doing so.

The leadership has served UND poorly in last 3 years in that instead of just getting out the ax cutting to make the books look good for the short term they needed to look to long term for the school. They needed to talk to alumni and boosters about how they could get additional help from them and how they were going to improve bottom line for the sports program. Second they needed to look to corporate sponsors to help fund their sports more too which I see in summit conference. Now this AD will need to evaluate the sports programs and determine if he see's were going in right direction long term or are we need of changes to make us competitive again. I also see us getting hurt by being in new conference we get no respect which is BS but were almost through this until we get to football in two seasons which I hope he gets on top of it so we don't have to go through this again. The problem we have at president of Universtiy is going to make it hard for this AD to help improve things with Alumni and boosters for the short term. The positives we have is we have good facilities and overall we still have good fan participation to watch remaining sports. I also think they should start thinking about how they could start bringing back some dropped programs to get Alumni and Booster involved on something positive.  

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TL:DR but this has to be the lowest point of UND athletics. Zero teams are having successful seasons. At least in past years there was always one ot two teams being marginally successful, but not this year (except soccer having better then expected?). If there is a repeat next year, certainly time to completely reevaluate athletics. 

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44 minutes ago, ND-fan said:

Yes he does have big job ahead of him. First of all when they waved white flag two years ago I think it was straw that broke the camels back.  Also this current president of university hasn't helped one bit and then we had Ed Schafer's short term presidency that what he couldn't get done as governor he did when he was interim president for the university. The political correct crowd at the university may have won the press and some of the public over but they never thought about what alumni and boosters thought and wanted. This group is different group that have way different attitudes and beliefs the what political correct culture has in academic world. When this group concerns and wishes were ignored they in turn just lost interest in supporting the university at level it had in the past. Then we had interim president mandating huge budget cuts to the university with athletic department dropping Baseball, Mens and Womens swimming and women's hockey.  This is after university had just got done improving facilities for these sports or had state of art facilities for these programs.  Then to top it off we have president that is running fight with family of one largest donors to university to point this family is not speaking to him and have limited their contact with University.  Then we have on going fight with another of long term donors over golf course that was also was closed and sold off. These are things I know of that are public knowledge to average person. Then we get into former alumni from Womens  hockey program that were at Olympics that won gold medals and bronze for their countries that expressed their opinion on what UND had done.  If you were trying to wreck alumni and booster moral you couldn't do much better job of doing so.

The leadership has served UND poorly in last 3 years in that instead of just getting out the ax cutting to make the books look good for the short term they needed to look to long term for the school. They needed to talk to alumni and boosters about how they could get additional help from them and how they were going to improve bottom line for the sports program. Second they needed to look to corporate sponsors to help fund their sports more too which I see in summit conference. Now this AD will need to evaluate the sports programs and determine if he see's were going in right direction long term or are we need of changes to make us competitive again. I also see us getting hurt by being in new conference we get no respect which is BS but were almost through this until we get to football in two seasons which I hope he gets on top of it so we don't have to go through this again. The problem we have at president of Universtiy is going to make it hard for this AD to help improve things with Alumni and boosters for the short term. The positives we have is we have good facilities and overall we still have good fan participation to watch remaining sports. I also think they should start thinking about how they could start bringing back some dropped programs to get Alumni and Booster involved on something positive.  

Finally someone has connected the dots.

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I posted this in the Coach Jones thread over in men’s basketball, but it applies to UND athletics as a whole. Here it is again:

UND’s inability to hold coaches to a high standard is hurtful to UND athletics. There has to be a willingness to fire after unmet expectations or else the standard suffers horribly. I’m sick of the culture UND has right now. It is a DII mindset within DI sports

 

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On 1/20/2019 at 7:29 PM, fightingsioux4life said:

I feel it is time to bring this post back from 5+ years ago. This has been a slow-motion disaster that started when we moved to Division I without a plan to properly fund our non-hockey sports. And it has to change. Soon.

Bill Chaves, a lonely fan base turns its eyes to you. :(:angry: #darkdaysindeed

Spot on. 

Its the non-hockey sports plan that just plain stinks. It needs to improve or else UND’s DII tradition of excellence will suffer horribly in the relatively-new DI era. 

These two points from your post absolutely stab me where it hurts the most: 

I also believe Buning deserves at least some of the blame for Dale Lennon leaving UND for Southern Illinois in December 2007, just as we were embarking on our Division I transition period. I honestly believe that Lennon got sick and tired of the lack of resources being allocated for the football program and wanted to go someplace where football wasn’t a red-headed stepchild to the fair-haired boy on campus (hockey). I think a little extra money might have kept him here. But we were just too cheap to come up with it. And the program really suffered as a result

· Losing Lennon contributed to the ultimate disaster of the transition period; losing to Sioux Falls College (an NAIA program at the time) at home in 2009. And the fact that the game wasn’t even close made it even harder to swallow. This loss hurt the reputation of the program and really soured the fan base on the program. I believe it is, without question, the worst loss in program history. And I believe we still, to this day, haven’t totally recovered from it.

The current level of funding for football is still not at a level that will allow UND to compete at the level they did within DII. It hurts immensely. 

Shortage of funding and expectations hurts.

 

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I have a question and that is why is it both Women's and Men's Basketball is so poorly attended by college students. I don't just mean now but even when they both were winning the show up  is pretty poor. University of over 12,000 students can't get even get 500 to 1000 students to game on week night  or even when they have weekend game. Do they need to promote more activities to get people to come to the game like promotions to just get students coming to  the game. Could it be they need transportation from the dorms and other campus living area's for the game. I guess I don't get it when I was in college it was something to do during the week and didn't cost any money and got you out your domicile and time to get together with friends. Also another promotion I think they should be to give tickets to area high schools and athletic teams use it as promotion for the sports as well as the school and same time show case their programs and the schools. Am I way off base here but I just find it embarrassing for the UND not to be improving there attendance for their games.  If they are doing this there results are not showing up at the games and I believe if they want to they can improve attendance. Its like anything you got to work hard at it because they are competing for entertainment time and money.

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I had fun going to men’s basketball games when I went to UND in late 70’s early 80’s. We were successful so that helped. Only went to a few women’s games. I don’t remember why no women’s but they weren’t very successful at the time.  

I don’t enjoy watching us play the last few years. The men are out of control and just aren’t very good compared to the teams we are playing. We also tend to choke and don’t play very smart.

the women’s team just totally has sucked . Not enough talent with little hope of watching a well played game.

in short, I don’t blame the students because of the product we are putting out. It just isn’t fun to watch.

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1 hour ago, ND-fan said:

I have a question and that is why is it both Women's and Men's Basketball is so poorly attended by college students. I don't just mean now but even when they both were winning the show up  is pretty poor. University of over 12,000 students can't get even get 500 to 1000 students to game on week night  or even when they have weekend game. Do they need to promote more activities to get people to come to the game like promotions to just get students coming to  the game. Could it be they need transportation from the dorms and other campus living area's for the game. I guess I don't get it when I was in college it was something to do during the week and didn't cost any money and got you out your domicile and time to get together with friends. Also another promotion I think they should be to give tickets to area high schools and athletic teams use it as promotion for the sports as well as the school and same time show case their programs and the schools. Am I way off base here but I just find it embarrassing for the UND not to be improving there attendance for their games.  If they are doing this there results are not showing up at the games and I believe if they want to they can improve attendance. Its like anything you got to work hard at it because they are competing for entertainment time and money.

You nailed that on the head.  Most hoops games have very few students, sometimes maybe a dozen or two at best.  Don't students go to hoops anymore?  I know GF and UND are hockey first but I gotta think a good portion of students are from ND areas (e..g small towns/rural) where hockey is back seat (or even non-existent) to hoops.  The sign that says "Student Section" at the Betty is actually pretty comical when you see very few there.     

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The Fan 100 I don't think you have been to many games lately the SDSU game was very entertaining game where you got to different styles of basketball play against each other and it was close game yes we lost by few points but it was against the best in summit conference. Also in the SDSU game you could see we didn't get much for breaks being new to the conference and game did come down to couple of possessions. The Western Illinois game very entertaining and we did pull it out in the end. Omaha game very good game except for the last 1 and 47 where we made some poor decisions by few of the players.  Now the last game at home I didn't make it because of weather and it appeared to me on tv it wasn't as fun a game to watch by way South Dakota dictated the tempo of the game. All these games lately though have been entertaining and if we had more people at game especially students that are usually more vocal than older people it would have helped our performances at the games. Also the Women games up to the last 2 years were very good games also and year they went to NCAA tournament and the conference tournament was here it was very good women's basketball. So again we have entertaining games and especially with men's game this year they have been close games  what will it take to get more people interested. Hockey is still drawing good crowds even when there record is not that good and a lot of games we haven't been in it so why can't basketball do the same. The South Dakota schools are drawing huge crowds and if we want to be factor in this conference in basketball we are going to need to start drawing big crowds. When conference tournament comes we go to Sioux Falls basically home court for SDSU your going to see big crowds they draw similar to that of our hockey program. If we want to be big time program you need a large fan support from the community.

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For background, we go to both men’s and women’s basketball and have for over 25 years, including going to national tournaments.  Part of the fan base problem is having coaches that make efforts to grow the program.  That doesn’t happen in UND basketball.  Glas was not a stellar coach but he was a good ambassador for the program and active in the surrounding community.  At that time, there were 3 times as many fans at games than now, despite now having supposedly higher level basketball.  Football for most of the last several years has been a bit of a dumpster fire and yet Bubba has gone out of his way to grow the program and increase attendance.  It may not last without improvement but attendance has been better.  Nobody knows who Jones is....  there is no outside school and community relations going on that I can see.  Couple that with an inability to coach to win a close game and/or close out a game.  I realize we just won by 1 but tried to throw away a 10 point lead but for WIU making a couple of colossal mistakes to save us from ourselves.  That won’t change until we see a coaching change.  We are destined for mediocrity and no fan base.  As to women’s, after 25 years, even I am having to talk myself into going to watch that mess... and I never thought I would say that.  Changes clearly need to be made....

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3 hours ago, Hans8891 said:

For background, we go to both men’s and women’s basketball and have for over 25 years, including going to national tournaments.  Part of the fan base problem is having coaches that make efforts to grow the program.  That doesn’t happen in UND basketball.  Glas was not a stellar coach but he was a good ambassador for the program and active in the surrounding community.  At that time, there were 3 times as many fans at games than now, despite now having supposedly higher level basketball.  Football for most of the last several years has been a bit of a dumpster fire and yet Bubba has gone out of his way to grow the program and increase attendance.  It may not last without improvement but attendance has been better.  Nobody knows who Jones is....  there is no outside school and community relations going on that I can see.  Couple that with an inability to coach to win a close game and/or close out a game.  I realize we just won by 1 but tried to throw away a 10 point lead but for WIU making a couple of colossal mistakes to save us from ourselves.  That won’t change until we see a coaching change.  We are destined for mediocrity and no fan base.  As to women’s, after 25 years, even I am having to talk myself into going to watch that mess... and I never thought I would say that.  Changes clearly need to be made....

Coach Glas had that charisma and sold the fact that he loved UND and, above all else, his players. Who doesn’t remember “Basketball is a game of runs and gaps”? That’s what he preached. 

 Coach Jones? 

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Agreed.  Men’s basketball is definitely more fun to watch right now than women’s but there is no reason with effort we shouldn’t be filling a field house that is half the size of Hyslop, especially for rival games.  A full house with active crowd will go a long way towards bringing students back but it will take an effort on the coaches part to bring fans back.  Would love to see a group of regulars that go to the summit tournament too to have a UND presence there also.  Used to be a boat to do the SD road trips when they were Friday and Saturday.  That would help also but don’t know if that is possible in the D1 era...

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  • 10 months later...
  • 2 years later...
On 8/2/2022 at 1:44 PM, Siouxperfan7 said:

The REA refuses to permananetly display the Fighting Hawks logo anywhere in the arena, except on banners.  I wouldn't hold your brerath for anything Fighting Hawks related prominantly displated at the Ralph until 2030 when they hand it over to UND.

The folks behind the REA (e.g., Kris Engelstad Mcgarry) don’t care about UND at all; at this point, after all the drama, that much is abundantly clear. The Engelstads and their foundation only care about themselves and their personal outdated views, which includes the logo. But they do have money and they do like hockey...

 

All in all, their relationship for UND is not a beneficial one unless all you care about is the tangible item they gifted: the Ralph Engelstad Arena. 2030 can’t come soon enough, although I’m not holding my breath as I’m sure some loophole will be revealed. 

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1 hour ago, UND Fan said:

Your first paragraph above is absolutely incorrect.  You would be surprised what Kris does for other sports.  Of course, hockey is No. 1 for her but there is other support that isn't publicized.

Absolutely agree:  They have provided millions in scholarships, the Betty and Ralph - host men's/women's basketball, soccer, volleyball and hockey - plus more.

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11 hours ago, UND Fan said:

Your first paragraph above is absolutely incorrect.  You would be surprised what Kris does for other sports.  Of course, hockey is No. 1 for her but there is other support that isn't publicized.

Agree to disagree. Just because they’ve given money to continue along with Ralph’s actions doesn’t mean they still actively care about UND. Has it helped UND? Sure, but not as most think 

The “other sports” contributions you mentioned is just pocket change for them and it is done as it just puts up a nice image. It doesn’t change their outdated morals … UND made a deal with the devil and that much is clear for those gleaning the big picture. Some are bought easier than others at UND, that’s for sure. Providing some $$$ for scholarships to sports that are way down the totem pole while still upholding their selfish values is not as scholarly as you may think. It’s been made abundantly clear over the past decade that Mcgarray and her foundation do not care about UND or North Dakota at its core, but rather that they get their way and if providing some scholarship $$$ along the way keeps most of Grand Forks bought, then why not. The REA was and is of course the main selling point for GF and UND. But it has been well established that the REA/foundation ticket revenue sharing agreement with UND is one that essentially turned UND into a semi-pro hockey program while mitigating all other sports. Football is especially screwed. Hockey is #1 for her, as you said, but it’s also #2, #3, #4, etc. Many overlook this skewed agreement though because of the surface image Engelstad has created with donation and the ongoing scholarship $$$ that gets thrown around. UND has less say in their own athletic department than some woman in Las Vegas who loves hockey and has her daddy’s money to play with …

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10 hours ago, UND-FB-FAN said:

Agree to disagree. Just because they’ve given money to continue along with Ralph’s actions doesn’t mean they still actively care about UND. Has it helped UND? Sure, but not as most think 

The “other sports” contributions you mentioned is just pocket change for them and it is done as it just puts up a nice image. It doesn’t change their outdated morals … UND made a deal with the devil and that much is clear for those gleaning the big picture. Some are bought easier than others at UND, that’s for sure. Providing some $$$ for scholarships to sports that are way down the totem pole while still upholding their selfish values is not as scholarly as you may think. It’s been made abundantly clear over the past decade that Mcgarray and her foundation do not care about UND or North Dakota at its core, but rather that they get their way and if providing some scholarship $$$ along the way keeps most of Grand Forks bought, then why not. The REA was and is of course the main selling point for GF and UND. But it has been well established that the REA/foundation ticket revenue sharing agreement with UND is one that essentially turned UND into a semi-pro hockey program while mitigating all other sports. Football is especially screwed. Hockey is #1 for her, as you said, but it’s also #2, #3, #4, etc. Many overlook this skewed agreement though because of the surface image Engelstad has created with donation and the ongoing scholarship $$$ that gets thrown around. UND has less say in their own athletic department than some woman in Las Vegas who loves hockey and has her daddy’s money to play with …

I really don't understand the angst here at all.  The people around the football program have held the program more than anything else:

1) UND President/AD - Kupchella/Thomas - misread the future of College and Athletics correctly.

2) Lennon leaving at the start of the transition with no AD.  As an example - Stig stuck it out at SDSU plus they found some deep pockets in Stanford.

3) Missing hiring DeBoer.

Those 3 decision have had far greater impact on the football program than some $500K annual payment.

Football has what it needs:

1) Great School

2) Nice facilities (Alerus and Indoor Practice Facility)

3) Full Scholarship funding.

4) They are 1 of maybe 5 or 10 schools that grant CoA at the FCS level.

5) Great media coverage - Midco, Miller, UND Football 360 and Teeder during fall ball.

Could they use more sure.  But, the cupboards are not bare.  It's time to get things done on the field.

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The Engelstads are hockey fans.
Their patriarch played ... < checks notes > ... HOCKEY at UND. 
Shockingly, their priority is the program dad played for. 
I'm sorry their priorities don't align to others'. 

 

Side note: I read the Engelstad Family Trust* Form 990 for 2019. They gave close to $20M to Catholic charities and over $10M to animal shelters and charities. That's beside what they gave to cancer research centers and small NV colleges and legal aid groups. If they were blowing the money on "hookers and blow" it'd be one thing, but, they are trying to do good works with the  Engelstad money, and it might not always be through UND. 

*That's Ralph's estate and has nothing to do with the arena. The arena has separate legal entities set up that report their own 990s. 

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4 hours ago, The Sicatoka said:

The Engelstads are hockey fans.
Their patriarch played ... < checks notes > ... HOCKEY at UND. 
Shockingly, their priority is the program dad played for. 
I'm sorry their priorities don't align to others'. 

 

Side note: I read the Engelstad Family Trust* Form 990 for 2019. They gave close to $20M to Catholic charities and over $10M to animal shelters and charities. That's beside what they gave to cancer research centers and small NV colleges and legal aid groups. If they were blowing the money on "hookers and blow" it'd be one thing, but, they are trying to do good works with the  Engelstad money, and it might not always be through UND. 

*That's Ralph's estate and has nothing to do with the arena. The arena has separate legal entities set up that report their own 990s. 

Sure, they’re hockey fans, but again, the agreement with the Engelstads hurts UND as the school lost autonomy with their own athletic department. The priority to hockey is not shocking or a mystery, due to Ralph’s connection as you stated, but is it right? Plus, do you think any money towards “hookers and blow” would be publicized? Of course not, only the items that enhance image will be. The legal trail that their money has created is immense and credit to those who have the time to trace it but even more credit to those who have the ability to assess the situation objectively. 
 

UND’s athletic department was bought by a major donor’s family and foundation. The department has lost crucial autonomy because of it. Previous attempts to argue it or reposition have led to publicized arguments, disputes and ultimately staffing changes.

The relationship led to some nice buildings in Grand Forks, but it’s not a good long-term relationship for UND, at least as is. That much I’ll maintain. 

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5 hours ago, FSSD said:

I really don't understand the angst here at all.  The people around the football program have held the program more than anything else:

1) UND President/AD - Kupchella/Thomas - misread the future of College and Athletics correctly.

2) Lennon leaving at the start of the transition with no AD.  As an example - Stig stuck it out at SDSU plus they found some deep pockets in Stanford.

3) Missing hiring DeBoer.

Those 3 decision have had far greater impact on the football program than some $500K annual payment.

Football has what it needs:

1) Great School

2) Nice facilities (Alerus and Indoor Practice Facility)

3) Full Scholarship funding.

4) They are 1 of maybe 5 or 10 schools that grant CoA at the FCS level.

5) Great media coverage - Midco, Miller, UND Football 360 and Teeder during fall ball.

Could they use more sure.  But, the cupboards are not bare.  It's time to get things done on the field.

I agree with most of this, but adamantly disagree with your point on 500K annually. The UND football department could desperately use that addition to the budget. Ask the families of UND football coaches/staff if they could use that money for their loved ones’ salary. And without going too far down the sentimental pathway, by purely looking at the UND football budget, which includes coaches salary, you’ll see the budget is destitute. UND football deserves more of a cut from the athletic department, but the ticket revenue agreement with the Engelstads has skewed the spending in a unfair way. Not to mention, the agreement doesn’t align with any other national standards. 

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