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Kevin Schnepf, Published April 26 2012

Schnepf: Bison women's basketball has absorbed quite a fall from glory days

Fargo - Carolyn DeHoff has her work cut out for her.

The North Dakota State women’s basketball coach has got to be feeling the pressure of turning around what was once one of the nation’s most successful programs. Back-to-back losing seasons – something that hasn’t happened at NDSU since 1979 – has certainly gotten the natives restless.

Now, after Thursday’s announcement that two of her assistants resigned, DeHoff has the task of finding two replacements during a time when her focus should be on finding recruits.

Is it only coincidence that this sudden turn of events has come on the heels of DeHoff and women’s athletic director Lynn Dorn combing over their improvement plan? “Evaluating the recruiting process from top to bottom,” Dorn described it a few weeks ago.

DeHoff and Dorn insist that it is purely coincidence. Asked if her assistants were pressured to resign, DeHoff said, “Absolutely not.”

“It probably feels different in terms of timing,” Dorn said. “But they were not forced to resign. Actually, I don’t know if either one is going to stay in coaching.”

Coincidence or not, this all leads one to believe that the house cleaning has begun in the Bison women’s basketball home. And if the Bison don’t improve upon last season’s 11-20 record, the overhaul could continue.

This isn’t the same program that won five Division II national titles during Amy Ruley’s 29 years. This isn’t the same program that routinely drew more than 2,000 fans – sometimes outdrawing the men.

This is a program that had a 247 RPI ranking out of 342 Division I schools. This is a program that got annihilated last season by rival South Dakota State 88-43.

Dorn still stands behind DeHoff, who has two years left on her contract. She has vowed to be patient, realizing that a rash of injuries, sicknesses and departures have contributed to the program’s decline.

“It isn’t because of a lack of effort,” Dorn said, referring to DeHoff, who has compiled a 56-62 record during her four seasons at NDSU.

Confident that next year’s team can be better with six juniors, one sophomore and two freshmen who all saw extensive action, Dorn sees this recent development as an opportunity for both DeHoff and whoever she hires.

“I think it’s an opportunity to reassess and reevaluate what we’ve been doing,” Dorn said. “And I do believe that there are coaches out there who are eager to be a part of North Dakota State women’s basketball. The timing of this does not concern me.”

The only way DeHoff can look at this is as an opportunity – an opportunity to get people excited about Bison women’s basketball again, and an opportunity to ultimately keep her job.


Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

or at kschnepf@forumcomm.com