North Dakota State names Richman as new head men’s coach
FARGO — The Fargodome was lively on Tuesday night with a concert featuring the Christian group Casting Crowns. Outside the football team room on the lower level, the four young daughters of Dave and Stephanie Richman, all decked out in their Bison outfits, were playing like they had the world’s biggest playroom.
The North Dakota State head men’s basketball coach torch was officially passed from one family to another. Out over the weekend to Ohio University was Saul Phillips with his wife and his three young kids. In on Tuesday was Richman, a 35-year-old veteran of Bison basketball who got his first head coaching position.
“Simply put, the real reason I’m up here is my family,” he said.
His basketball family was another reason. At NDSU, Richman worked under Greg McDermott, Ben Jacobson, Tim Miles and Saul Phillips — all of whom gave athletic director Gene Taylor glowing recommendations since Phillips was hired Saturday night. All moved up in Division I basketball with McDermott at Creighton, Jacobson at Northern Iowa, Miles at Nebraska and Phillips to Ohio.
“Those four gentlemen had major impacts on my life,” Richman said.
Taylor also reached out to former Bison standout Ben Woodside, now playing professionally in Italy.
“They all kept telling me that if I didn’t hire this guy, it would be the dumbest thing I’ve ever done,” Taylor said.
Richman signed a letter of agreement for a five-year contract that on July 1 will start at $190,000 per year. That does not include bonuses, yearly raises or perks like a country club membership. Taylor said more details need to be worked out before both parties sign it.
Richman was the obvious in-house successor, having spent 11 years at NDSU including the last seven as associate head coach. He worked his way up the ladder first starting as a student assistant coach. He graduated from NDSU in 2002 and obtained his master’s degree in 2005 in sport and recreation management.
He already received the endorsement of two returning starters. Point guard Lawrence Alexander and forward Kory Brown said Monday they would welcome Richman being the next head coach. Freshman guard A.J. Jacobson extended that praise after Tuesday’s news conference.
“He knows his stuff basketball-wise,” said Jacobson, who said Richman was his main recruiter when he was at Fargo Shanley. “This is a great opportunity for us as a basketball program. He’s going to get the best out of you every day.”
Jacobson said the hiring of Richman helped calm a couple of instability issues the team will face in the next two seasons with the renovation of the Bison Sports Arena.
“Things like, ‘Where are we going to practice? Where will our locker room be?’ ” he said. “This helps that transition.”
Richman said remaining NDSU assistant coaches Freddy Coleman and Josh Vaughan “are high-quality people and coaches who I want to visit with” in filling out his staff. Assistant Will Ryan will follow Phillips to Ohio.
Richman said the days since Phillips took the job have been fast and furious. NDSU President Dean Bresciani made note of that saying Richman was notified 15 minutes before he was to interview with him.
“I was anticipating a nervous coach who wasn’t prepared,” Bresciani said. “What I found was an experienced, articulate coach who went beyond my immediate questions. This is a man who is prepared for the job and prepared to excel for the job.”
Moreover, Richman said, he’s prepared to handle the public tasks of the head coach such as booster functions and media responsibilities.
“I’ve watched and observed a lot of talented people,” he said. “You play those scenarios in your head and how you’ll handle them. I’ll continue to be myself.”