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NDSU hires new women's basketball coach

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FARGO -- Carolyn DeHoff got in front of the four television cameras and two live radio station feeds and took a deep breath. Friday afternoon brought a new world to the new North Dakota State women's basketball coach.

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She was named to the position in front of a packed room at the Fargodome.

"Wow," she said. "This is the best day of my professional career. I've been through some incredible emotions the last two weeks."

The University of Utah assistant succeeds Amy Ruley, who resigned at the end of February to take an administrative position with the NDSU athletic department. She signed a five-year contract with a starting salary of $108,000 per year. Women's athletic director Lynn Dorn, who made the hire, said incentives and bonuses have yet to be determined.

It is the first head coaching job for the 40-year-old DeHoff, who has been an assistant for the past 17 years. She was the associate head coach at Utah and the top assistant at Wyoming and Weber State (Utah).

It will also be her first time calling time outs, determining a starting lineup and deciding what to do for the last shot in the final seconds.

"Everything stops at my desk and stops in my office," said DeHoff, who said she had some decision-making roles at Utah. "I get how you have to make those decisions. The tough calls."

DeHoff flew into Fargo on Wednesday afternoon as the only candidate. She said it didn't take her long to understand the past success of the program and the potential of it in NCAA Division I. NDSU is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season.

"We're talking about a standard of excellence here," she said. "It's not good enough to go 19-11. The standard of excellence is to win 20 games and cut down the nets. We're about NCAA appearances. And those are not expectations once every three years or so. Those are expectations every year."

DeHoff said she hasn't had time to think about hiring three full-time assistants and one graduate manager, a title that will eventually be changed to a full-time position of director of basketball operations. She talked with Ruley's assistants - who are still under contract until June -- earlier Friday calling the meeting "great communication."

"Now we'll have to put some things together and make some decisions," she said.

She thanked her father for her organizational skills and her mother for her compassionate personality. And of the many people she met during her NDSU visit, it appears President Joe Chapman made the biggest impression.

They met on Thursday for a half hour, an encounter DeHoff called a great time.

"You're on nerve, on edge," she said. "You have to get this done because he's going to be the deal breaker. I walked into that office and what a sense of relief. It was a weight lifted off my shoulders. I love his vision."

And she also paid homage to Ruley, who won five NCAA Division II national championships in her 29 years. DeHoff she plans on taking advantage of Ruley's experience as much as possible. She said she's not afraid of following Ruley's legendary footsteps.

"It's a phenomenal job here," DeHoff said. "A rich tradition and that's another reason I'm here. Now we're going to take that rich tradition and build ourselves an identity at the Division I level. The community is ready. We're ready."

And ready or not, she's now the face of the program. And she knows it.

Afterward, Dorn said she was pleased with her new coach's demeanor in front of the cameras and microphones calling DeHoff "articulate, confident and easy."

"I fell in love with this place," DeHoff said.

The Forum and Dickinson Press are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

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