With the announcement that previous head football coach Craig Bohl accepted a new job in Wyoming and the hiring of new head coach Chris Klieman, athletic director Gene Taylor was also thrown under media’s watchful eye.
The last time the women’s athletic department received that much media attention may have been during the event of the director of women’s athletics’ two-week, unpaid suspension.
But that was two years ago now, and the unintended consequences from the suspension have impacted Lynn Dorn on a daily basis.
Dorn said the entire experience has made her a much more thoughtful person.
The incident in February 2012 has been her only indication of wrongdoing during her career.
She is in her 37th year at NDSU, and as women’s athletics director, holds an unusual position. Dorn said NDSU is probably one of the few left in the nation that has a director for women’s athletics; most models have a senior associate director or senior women administrator.
Dorn received her undergraduate degree in health, physical education and recreation from Bemidji State University then went on to get her master’s in physical education and athletics administration from the University of Minnesota. She went back for more graduate work in physical education.
Before coming to NDSU, Dorn coached at the high-school level in Crookston, Minn.
“I was not a very good coach,” she said. “I very much prefer athletics administration and the opportunity to work with a team of very gifted and talented coaches.”
Women’s basketball head coach Carolyn DeHoff said the entire athletics department aids coaches in their success.
“I’ve been involved in several athletic departments, and I believe that our athletic department does everything possible to provide a successful working environment for coaches,” she said. “Which in turn allows us to be successful with our programs.”
Dorn works more directly with the coaches than student athletes, but said, no question, the best part of the day is to visit with the athletes.
“Thet are such quality people,” Dorn said. “We are just so lucky we get young people that are dedicated to a common goal; they understand the value of academics, and they understand the value of getting a degree.”
DeHoff said the student athletes view Dorn positively as well.
“I believe are (sic) women feel that Lynn is a huge supporter for them,” DeHoff said. “She’s been an administrator for many years and has seen how Title IX has strengthened the options for women.”
Dorn said she doesn’t view the women’s athletic department as having a struggle.
“Everybody is always looking for opportunities to increase their visibility, increase their relevance if that’s the right word,” she said. ” … All athletes on the men’s side and women’s side say they’d love to play in front of a full house every week; they’d love to be filmed like the Fargodome.”
In fact, Dorn said the most challenging part of her job doesn’t involve the women’s equality in athletics, but persistent fundraising.
“Every time – just because the amount external funding that’s necessary – anyone going into athletic administration really has to be comfortable with fundraising,” she said. “They have to be willing to go out, meet people and cultivate relationships.”
When it comes to women’s athletics, Dorn does have to deal with the visual aspect of athletics and some questions that are brought up about women’s uniforms. Dorn said that the scrutiny that women holding positions in public office receive is similar to women in athletics.
“The world of athletics is very much the same,” she said. “It’s very limited, it’s very first-impression, it’s very, very visual. So those are the challenges that we are continuing to overcome as women in society, not just women in sports.”
One question surrounds women’s basketball and whether the uniforms should be more tailored to not look so much like the men’s uniforms. Dorn doesn’t see NDSU changing its uniforms directly for women, but uniforms will follow trends.
Dorn’s entire career has been one of success with seven national titles, 62 North Central Conference titles, 21 Summit League Championships and eight conference all-sport trophies in women’s athletics.
She said she cannot pinpoint what her next big goal is but is taking things one step at a time. Dorn said that although it will be much more difficult in Division I, women’s athletics will focus on winning the conference and then look at the NCAA playoffs.
“Lynn is an exceptional women’s athletic director and takes a lot of pride in aiding her coaches and our student-athletes,” DeHoff said.