Behavior to be questioned at NDSUFARGO — When news broke Wednesday that Lynn Dorn, women’s athletic director for North Dakota State, was slapped with a two-week suspension, you could hear the gasps of disbelief among the Bison faithful.
By: Kevin Schnepf, The Dickinson Press
FARGO — When news broke Wednesday that Lynn Dorn, women’s athletic director for North Dakota State, was slapped with a two-week suspension, you could hear the gasps of disbelief among the Bison faithful.
Lynn Dorn? Suspended?
This is the woman who, for the past 34 years at NDSU, has built an impeccable reputation as a champion for women’s sports. She was named one of the most influential people in NCAA Division II athletics in 1995. She was named an administrator of the year in 1997.
This is a woman who has had the uncanny knack of hiring the finest coaches — including Tim Miles, who has since climbed the ladder of success as the men’s basketball coach at the University of Nebraska.
This is a woman who is about as well-versed on the NCAA rule book as anyone in the country. She has always been extremely careful in choosing her words when asked to voice her opinion — to the point of being clear and vague at the same time, if that’s possible.
So alarm bells sounded Wednesday when it was announced Dorn showed “significant inappropriate professional behavior” violating anti-harassment policies. Multiple sources say it involved a male student and perhaps an athlete.
“All I can say is it involves a student, but you can make your assumption from there based on what she does for a living,” said NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor.
Based on Dorn’s track record, this is all very puzzling. But what is more puzzling, and perhaps more alarming, is how NDSU officials tried to sweep this issue under the rug.
During Wednesday’s news conference, Taylor admitted there was no plan to make this public unless someone called. WDAY-TV’s Kevin Wallevand called Wednesday morning, prompting Taylor to schedule the afternoon news conference — where Wallevand asked Taylor if there was an attempt to keep this hush, hush. Taylor responded:
“Not really. I think based on the fact that it was a personnel matter, and Lynn, the fact that she has worked here as long as she has, it wasn’t anything to hide.
“We knew certainly that if it got out that we would be willing to respond and provide the information that we could provide. That is where we stand today.”
Had Wallevand not made the call, Dorn’s suspension would have ended next Tuesday without most people knowing. Considering NDSU’s stature in this region and considering the importance and visibility of Dorn’s position, the public has a right to know.
NDSU’s attempt to keep this quiet is perhaps more alarming than Dorn’s inappropriate behavior.
Like her resume, the NDSU athletic department has had a pretty good track record in recent years in acknowledging various wrongdoings. It has been open and accessible, and that attitude in the long run has served it well. It is an attitude that permeates trust with the public.
The Wednesday news conference should have been held March 27, the day the suspension began.
When attorneys, the vice president, the president, the athletic director and a student of a public institution are involved, the public has a right to know.
Schnepf is the sports editor at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.