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Kupchella releases few details on Buning leave


Surveys such as the one done in the University of North Dakota athletic department before Athletic Director Tom Buning took a four-week leave of absence are routine, UND President Charles Kupchella says.

“Surveys are a regular, normal part of the enterprise here,” he said in his first public comments about the situation. “We did one a few years ago on the dean of the school of medicine. We did one last year on Robert Boyd.” Boyd is the school’s vice president of student and outreach services.

“It’s just something you do periodically. Sometimes they’re done when there’s an issue that comes up,” Kupchella said, though he declined to say whether a specific issue prompted the athletic department survey in which Buning received low marks.

Buning has not commented publicly on his leave of absence, and did not immediately return a telephone call Tuesday seeking comment.

He said in a Sept. 13 letter to UND vice president Phil Harmeson that he and his staff are overworked and do not have enough money to make a proper transition from NCAA Division II to Division I, which UND is making. Buning said he also objected to reporting to Harmeson instead of Kupchella.

Buning formerly reported to Kupchella, but began reporting to Harmeson after a July 1 organizational change. Harmeson distributed the survey in which staff could give anonymous responses.

Kupchella said school policies prevent him from saying much about Buning’s leave of absence.

“We’ll have to wait and see what happens four weeks from now,” Kupchella said. “As I’ve learned, anything can happen, especially regarding an ongoing review of performance.”

Information from: Grand Forks Herald,

–Associated Press

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