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Jeff Kolpack, Published July 24 2010

Mueller says "no" to Gophers, gets three-year extension as NDSU's softball coach

It defies conventional coaching wisdom, but North Dakota State head softball coach Darren Mueller turned down one Big Ten Conference school and quite possibly another.

The Bison announced a three-year contract extension for Mueller on Friday that will take him through the 2013 season. NDSU women’s athletic director Lynn Dorn said details had yet to be worked out, but Mueller was due to receive a raise anyway after this season.

That was the mundane news in an otherwise interesting two weeks.

“It’s been a little crazy,” Mueller said.

He was offered the job at the University of Minnesota, but turned it down saying it didn’t feel like the right fit.

“It’s something you say to yourself: ‘Are you sure you’re doing the right thing?’” Mueller said. “The Big Ten vs. The Summit, sure there’s no comparison. I just looked at our program and in the world of softball, what do we have compared to other universities? We’re now at a point where we’re getting a lot of the top recruits.”

The Bison reached the NCAA Super Regional two years ago and have made two straight NCAA appearances. Asked how successful he could have been at Minnesota, Mueller – a Fargo native – said he estimated it would take two to four years to make an NCAA tournament.

“Whereas every year we have a chance to make it here,” he said. “In the long term, I don’t know (about Minnesota). I’m probably looking at it more as a short term thing for myself.”

Mueller said he would not comment on the Wisconsin situation out of respect for the Badger administration, who asked that he not release details until a new coach is named. Dorn did confirm that Mueller interviewed with the Badgers, but she didn’t know if he received a job offer.

“It’s a testament to our university, the student-athletes that he recruits and the fan base at NDSU,” she said. “Softball is important here.”

Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the WDAY Golf Show, 10-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia