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Extensions remove last major hurdle at North Dakota
The contract extensions released the last major shackle that had been restricting these UND coaches in recruiting and competition.
The UND athletic department slowly has rolled out the announcements of contract extensions for a majority of the school’s highest-profile coaches over the course of the last four months.
Dave Hakstol of men’s hockey, Brian Idalski of women’s hockey, Brian Jones of men’s basketball, Chris Mussman of football and Ashley Hardee of volleyball all inked deals over that time.
Let’s focus on the three coaches making the move into the Big Sky Conference next season in Mussman, Jones and Hardee.
Mussman signed a three-year extension, Jones also agreed to three more years, while Hardee penned a one-year extension into 2016.
Their deals will provide security. But they’re also going to elicit scrutiny.
That’s because the contract extensions released the last major shackle that had been restricting these UND coaches in recruiting and competition.
Now, we’re going to see what this trio can truly accomplish without the laundry list of exterior hassles.
The contract extensions were a must in order to allow these coaches to play with a full deck of cards.
Without contract extensions in place, recruits and their parents can easily question the long-term vision of coaches who may not be around when these recruits land on campus or become college upperclassmen.
In some cases, the contract extensions may have been less about a rewarding payday and more about giving these coaches the complete recruiting firepower.
With the addition of the contract extensions, the 2012-13 season and beyond will be much better indicators of the coaching staff than the trying times of the transition.
After all, consider all of the other hurdles removed for Mussman, Jones and Hardee this offseason.
n The Fighting Sioux nickname controversy is beginning to fade into the distance after the statewide vote in June allowed the university and the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education to renew the retirement of the nickname and logo.
n The transition from NCAA Division II to Division I is over. Those purgatory seasons were challenging as the school wasn’t eligible for postseason play and had a tough search for viable opponents and capable athletes.
n UND is no longer a member of a rag-tag league such as the Great West Conference, which didn’t offer an automatic bid into postseason play for its league champions. The school is heading into the reputable Big Sky Conference.
Gauging successful coaching seasons during UND’s transition has been difficult, but next season will be different in the Big Sky.
And equipped with contract extensions, UND’s coaches will be unhindered and under the microscope.
By: Tom Miller, Grand Forks Herald