Let’s get the university presidents out of sports


INOT, N.D. — Dean Bresciani, the outgoing president of North Dakota State University, is not good at his job.

That’s why he got canned by the State Board of Higher Education. His institution’s enrollment numbers and academic metrics stalled during his tenure. He feuded with elected leaders. He clashed with faculty.

The only thing he had going for him was NDSU’s wildly successful football program. An impressive string of championships has earned Bresciani praise from Bison fans, and glowing hagiography from sports reporters, with neither constituency caring all that much for the university’s academic mission.

Bresciani has clung to his job for years by milking that udder dry. “If it weren’t for that string of football championships he’d have been gone a long time ago,” one state lawmaker told me in June when news of Bresciani leaving broke.

Under his leadership, NDSU was an institution that balked at raising a couple of million dollars to rebuild a science building that habitually caught fire and had no running water, but had no problem raising tens of millions of dollars for a new football practice facility.

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