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Eric Peterson, Published January 04 2011

Hager won’t apply for MSUM job

Former North Dakota State football coach Rocky Hager said he won’t apply to be the next head football coach at Minnesota State Moorhead, although he confirmed MSUM contacted him about the job Monday.

“The (MSUM) thing is not working for us at this point,” Hager said. “I will not apply for it at this time.”

MSUM can start reviewing applicants for the position on Thursday. Athletic director Doug Peters said he would like to have a coach named by the end of the month.

Peters declined to comment on if he had talked to Hager.

“I’m not going to comment on any of the potential candidates until we get to the finalists,” Peters said.

Hager said if the timing and geography had been different, he would have considered applying for the MSUM job. His wife, Peggy, teaches at a high school in New Jersey and she is a “few years” from “full” retirement,” Hager said.

“Her retirement package is better than anything that I could ever muster up. Consequently, we need to have her continue to do that,” Hager said. “Family means a lot and consequently I will be closer to the home front than halfway across the country.”

Hager, 59, has been away from the sidelines for more than a year. He was the head coach at Northeastern University for six seasons until the Boston school dropped its football program after the 2009 season.

Prior to that, Hager coached 10 seasons at NDSU becoming the school’s all-time winningest coach with a 91-25-1 record.

Hager said he admired the football success the Dragons had under former head coach Ross Fortier. Fortier led the program from 1970-92, posting a 152-80-4 record.

“When Ross was there, the Dragons were tough,” said Hager, who is from Harvey, N.D. “There is a storied history and tradition of excellence there. All a coach ever wants is an opportunity to succeed and that would be a place that I would feel to have that chance.”

MSUM is looking to get back to that success level, having posted just one winning season since 2000.

The Dragons have lagged behind in funding, offering about nine scholarships for football. The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference league maximum was 26 for football this past season and will increase to 27 next season.

While Peters said that could be a concern for the next coach, he thinks the funding will get better.

“I think it’s a factor, but as an institution we have developed a strategic plan and started down the path of improving our scholarship situation,” Peters said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com