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Board Hires Kansas Attorney to Investigate North Dakota State President

FARGO, N.D. ― A Kansas investigator has been hired to look into whether embattled North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani violated state Board of Higher Education policy, university system officials said Thursday.

The probe centers on now-rescinded media guidelines for covering Bison athletics that were roundly criticized by journalists and on social media before NDSU scrapped them after just four days. Bresciani said he wasn’t consulted on the guidelines but acknowledged later that some text messages he sent regarding the matter were “not appropriate.”

The board already delayed extending Bresciani’s contract, saying he needs to work on teamwork, communication and collaboration. Chancellor Mark Hagerott had publicly criticized Bresciani in January for flying in business class on a recruiting trip to India, calling the move an embarrassment.

The chancellor’s office said Thursday that Lawrence, Kansas, attorney Kathy Perkins will handle the investigation. Perkins, a graduate of Harvard Law School, has been handling employment and commercial disputes for 25 years. Her fee estimate is between $8,000 and $12,000.

“The individual was selected based on qualifications as well as to ensure that this audit remains objective and affordable,” board spokeswoman Billie Jo Lorius said.

Perkins plans to start on the investigation next week and expects to submit a final report by Sept. 30.

A spokeswoman for Bresciani said the president was asked to refer all questions to the university system and would not comment. Board Chairwoman Kathleen Neset did not respond Thursday to a request for comment.

The short-lived media rules issued July 29 primarily involved restrictions on live broadcasting, internet streaming and social media posts at sporting events for media outlets that didn’t have contracts to broadcast Bison basketball and football games. NDSU’s football team is the five-time defending champion in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.

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