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University of North Dakota athletic director says school lacks resources for transition


University of North Dakota athletic director Tom Buning says he and his staff are overworked and don’t have enough money to make a proper transition to the NCAA Division I.

The director, who was put on a leave of absence this week, said in a Sept. 13 letter to UND vice president Phil Harmeson that he also objected to reporting to Harmeson, instead of the university’s president, Charles Kupchella.

An anonymous survey of athletic department coaches and staff rated Buning’s job performance poorly. The survey results and Buning’s response letter were obtained by the Grand Forks Herald, which published details about it on its Web site Friday.

Buning formerly reported to Kupchella, but began reporting to Harmeson after a July 1 organizational change.

“Action moves athletics away from the industry trend of reporting directly to the president, especially in Division I,” Buning wrote. “(The change) establishes a perception that we are disregarding the NCAA’s renewed emphasis on its policy of institutional control.”

Buning said he inherited a program in July 2005 that had weak management, no long-range plan and $1 million in debt. He has prepared the athletic department to move to Division I and balanced the budget two years running, he said.

He said the survey results were “questionable” and reflect the stress on his employees from the pending change to Division I.

“My ‘bare bones’ staff, without regard to skills and talents, is overworked and under-resourced in handle the extra workload of the D-I study process, much less daily duties,” he wrote.

Buning went on leave Monday, for reasons the university did not divulge. The newspaper said Buning’s leave is for four weeks. He has not been available for comment. Harmeson has declined comment.

Information from: Grand Forks Herald,

–Associated Press


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