NDSU’s Ridiculous Media Policy Is Why President Dean Bresciani Has to Go


NDSU president Dean Bresciani gives the horns sign before the team arrives Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013 outside of FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas. David Samson / The Forum

North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani is on the bubble. While every other president in the North Dakota University System under consideration got their contracts renewed the State Board of Higher Education decided to put Bresciani on an improvement plan.

He’ll be working with Chancellor Mark Hagerott to address a set of goals set by board members who will re-consider renewing his contract, which expires on June 30 of next year, at a meeting in November.

So now probably wasn’t the best time to enrage local media outlets, and the public, by instituting an absurd new media policy for covering NDSU athletics that’s so stringent that sports bloggers tweeting score updates from Bison football games would run afoul of it.

No, I’m not kidding. The only people with this public – again, I say public – university’s permission to cover everything from its sports games to athletic press conferences (yes, even press conferences) are the media outlets who purchased broadcast rights. Right now that’s Valley News Live (KVLY in Fargo) along with NBC affiliates across the state.

If the folks at these media outlets had an ounce of journalistic integrity (a dubious prospect when it comes to VNL) they’d be protesting the university’s decision. As it is the new rules are already grabbing national attention and criticism, as well they should.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Bad leaders make bad decisions, and NDSU has a bad leader in Dean Bresciani.[/mks_pullquote]

The larger issue is how the decision came to be in the first place. Bad leaders make bad decisions, and NDSU has a bad leader in Dean Bresciani.

For years now I’ve been perhaps the most outspoken and consistent critic of Bresciani’s leadership, and for years NDSU loyalists (including some Bresciani towel boys who are today outraged over this media rights issue) have been bewildered by my criticism. But imagine if the NDSU administration under Bresciani went about all of its business – from working with the Legislature to working with the State Board of Higher Education – in the same arrogant, utterly tone deaf manner.

That’s exactly what happens. Bresciani and his administration don’t think they have to answer to the legislature. They don’t think they have to answer to the State Board of Higher Education. They don’t think they have to answer to university system Chancellor Mark Hagerott. And they clearly don’t think they have to be respectful of the media, either.

I have had literally dozens of people who work in state and local government – including lawmakers and past/present SBHE members – tell me that Bresciani has been personally rude to them. That’s just how the guy operates, and speaks volumes about the way he goes about his business as the head of one of the state’s most important institutions.

About the only thing NDSU has truly excelled at under Bresciani has been winning football championships. And although those championships really have very little to do with Bresciani – I’m pretty sure he’s not calling plays or recruiting players – he has managed to cast a pall over that success with this terrible, awful policy.

If Bresciani were an otherwise competent president with a strong track record at NDSU I’d say this controversy over media rights would be something that could be easily fixed. But he’s not those things. He’s been a veritable toothache since he took over at NDSU.

Let’s hope the SBHE has the gumption to stick to their decision not to renew his contract. It’s time for this guy to go to another institution in another state and be their problem.