First of all, last week’s Sports Feever column was postponed to a later date. In all honesty, I completely forgot until 11:00 p.m. last Wednesday as we have been so busy with spring sports, end-of-school stuff, zoom meetings, meetings, and getting ready for spring tournaments it slipped my mind. I apologize and promise it won’t happen this week, anything after that is not a given!
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Friday, May 13 was a rollercoaster of a day. I get a call from the University of Minnesota Crookston Men’s Basketball Coach Dan Weisse in the morning and find out his contract will NOT be renewed. He said no reasons were given on the non-renewal. (I have included Dan’s comments below.) In the late morning I had Athletic Director Stephanie Helgeson stop by to talk to me (which I appreciated!).
I can’t tell you what Steph said because she is a good friend, and I don’t want her to get in trouble with the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor because they obviously will fire ANYBODY! Plus, I would NEVER want her job!!!! I will tell you that the reasons I was told is not a fireable offense, in my eyes, and Dan should have been given an improvement plan on the few issues with players and if he didn’t do better or explain why he was doing what he was doing and why then you part ways.
FIRST AND FOREMOST – The firing is directly from the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, not the Athletic Director. Especially when either “leaders” don’t know what the hell they are doing which is evidenced by the continued collapse of the on-campus enrollment numbers. Oh, dropping football was brilliant. Losing 90 to 100 students cost them over a million dollars a year in revenue from tuition and some of them also have room and board. It is easier to cut something than figure out how to raise money to get better facilities, etc.
So in the last five days, I have talked to a lot of employees (None of them are in the athletic department), and here is what I have heard.
I talked to two non-athletic staff that said they heard the Vice-Chancellor yelling/arguing with the Equestrian Coach because she wasn’t wearing her facemask correctly. From what I hear, the Equestrian Coach is on the hot seat too. (This is just what I heard and hasn’t been proven with video or audio)
It is no secret that Coach Weisse wasn’t a big fan of the COVID protocols the Twin Cities told Crookston they had to follow. He didn’t agree with things, and he had every right to disagree, especially when we still have no idea of masks, vaccines, etc. work to stop the virus. The Vice-Chancellor didn’t appreciate some of his questions and comments. Dan got an email from the Chancellor a few weeks ago that said I am glad you are doing camps again. Dan replied, “It is nice to be able to do camps.” For the past two years, they weren’t allowed to host youth camps because of COVID. Also, the baseball and softball coaches couldn’t work on the fields in the summer because of COVID rules handed down by the U of M. The lemmings at UMC followed the rules that didn’t allow two guys to work on a field outside by themselves. Seriously. Zero common sense is used by Post Secondary education leaders.
If you remember, the Vice-Chancellor is also the same guy that brought up the murals in Kiehle Auditorium had racist undertones. That didn’t sit well with big-time donors to the University. Now they have a coach who is the only one on staff that is active in the community with kids going to school at Cathedral. His daughter won Little Miss Crookston. Dan is on the Crookston Youth Basketball Association Board because his kids play basketball. He plays tennis with a big group of people, including doctors, lawyers, etc. Dan and Steve Gust are the ONLY two people on staff that most people in town know. Dan is the most popular by far!!! I guarantee people in Crookston that know or at least know of Dan are at least double to quadruple the number of people in town that know the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor.
Some players complained (one thing as a former athlete and one that has talked to many UMC student-athletes, and nobody likes the head coach. They all like the assistant coach because the head coach is the mean, demanding guy, and the assistant coach is the good cop that makes them feel better. It has been this way for decades and decades.) Another problem is the kids entering the transfer portal. Players that would enter the transfer portal would lose their scholarship because it told Dan and the program they no longer wanted to play at Crookston. Let’s face it, Crookston sucks for a college student. The program struggles, athletics is underfunded, the facilities aren’t great. So some kids leave to play D3 or NAIA, some leave thinking they are going to find a better program, and some leave because they hate the school or town. But a coach pulls the scholarship and some players were mad. Players went to the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor to complain and they listened, even though they know nothing about sports.
This brings me back to former Softball Coach Travis Owen. One of the nicest guys I have ever met. Neve said anything bad about anybody, and was ultra-aware of what he could and couldn’t say to players (he wouldn’t say anything bad or inappropriate anyway. He just didn’t have that bone in his body.) A player that didn’t play much was mad with playing time and complained to the U of M and they forced Travis to resign. This was the biggest bunch of B.S. I have ever heard. Again a decision that was not by the Athletic Director but by the administration.
This is the crap that is going on at the U of M. They are listening to kids over well-respected people. Sorry for being all over the place on this one, but my mind is still spinning from the decision. It will hurt UMC more than they know and I for one have pulled a donation of $1,200 for the UMC Men’s Basketball camp, I won’t be sponsoring the UMC Teambacker golf tournaments as I have for many years, and I am very close on deciding not to carry or cover any UMC athletic events next year.
This decision was the straw that broke the camel’s back. A little info for you. UMC gives us some money to broadcast their athletics. We also have had a contract to run ads on the radio throughout the year and they would sponsor a bunch of things. Before this school year started, UMC wanted us to carry more events and give us half the money. I am not lying. To quote Frank Fee – “You should have told them to go to hell.”
This has nothing to do with Steph Helgeson because she knows that we are basically doing a community service, and we do it for UMC. Let me remind you almost every UMC athletic event is on the weekend. Volleyball plays Friday and Saturdays, Soccer plays Friday and Sundays, Basketball plays Friday and Saturdays, Hockey plays on weekends, Baseball and Softball play Wednesday, Friday, and Saturdays. So believe me, if we didn’t cover their games, it would give me and my sports staff more time with family and friends.
So we will see. A lot of NSIC teams don’t have radio coverage, and it might be time to follow suit.
I have had doctors, lawyers, bankers, farmers, and some pretty big donors, a ton of high school coaches and Activity Directors ask what the hell is going on. I am afraid this will hurt the college worse than they know. Interest in UMC athletics was already at an all-time low and now it will be lower, which means fewer donations.
The good news for Crookston, (according to EVERYBODY I talk to on campus) is the Vice-Chancellor will be leaving to become president of Bemidji State University. I know this much….. if he tries the same crap at Bemidji as he did in Crookston. He won’t last very long.
Good Luck to Dan and his family, but future Crookston High School Activities Director Nate Lubarski and I chatted and said we have to find a way to get him to stay in Crookston as a teacher and coach. Hey…..no recruiting, more nights spent at home. I think it would be great, plus Dan’s wife Andrea just took a job at the Crookston High School!!!!
P.S. In full disclosure, Dan and I are friends. I have spent a few nights with him and his awesome family, including his great mom and dad. They are all great people.
This is the last I will talk of it, and I waited until Wednesday to write this to allow myself to cool down. And if you are at UMC, don’t call, email, or stop by to complain about this. I don’t give two craps what you think and won’t change anything or delete anything because it makes you look bad. You make yourself look bad!
Here are some comments we received on social media, email, text, etc.
I posted this on Facebook –
It is getting harder and harder to support the University. When my kids all ask why he is such a nice guy, my wife responds WTH, my dad responds….well I can’t say what he said, and several community members ask what the hell is going on out there. This is almost as bad as letting Bill Tyrell go, cutting football, and cutting hockey. All because the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor don’t know what the hell they are doing. Since they showed up the records of the programs have all declined, and on-campus enrollment has drastically declined, yet they still have jobs!. The good news is one is leaving to ruin BSU next year. Sorry for the rant….might want to check sports feever next week.
Responses from people on Facebook –
-Really sad! Great family and great member of the community! Dan did a good job with this program!
-My heart just sank. When I saw his picture on your post, I thought he had gotten some award. Great guy, great family, amazing coach! I hope someone explains something to the community, but in the end, it will be, “Thank you, we’ve decided to go in another direction.” The good news is, every coach that has gotten that line, has ended up in a better situation. Best of luck Coach Weisse and family! Ps. I’m excited for next week’s Sports Feever!
-When Chris Fee makes a post like this, you know there are serious issues out there. I’ve heard these concerns for a while now. With your respected and credible take on things, I hope people are listening and this gets to where it really needs to go.
-Well said Chris Fee! Some things never change. (Former student)
-AGREE 100 percent it’s laughable really. (Former student)
-Couldn’t agree more! (former student)
-Man this will be a huge loss for that program that school and the crookston community.
-Unbelievable….the lack of resources that UMC has and they let him go???? Man oh man!!! Coach Weisse and his staff has always displayed unbelievable character and respect towards myself anytime our paths crossed….I’m sure hundreds of thousands can relate. (High School basketball coach)
-I am so sad. (Very active Teambacker)
-I am shocked and angry to hear UMC is not renewing Dan’s contract !!! He has done an excellent coaching job and has contributed to the community. I think an explanation is in order. I am very disappointed in UMC administration. There must be some kind of appeal that Dan and the community can go through.
-Spot on Chris. I think it’s time to evaluate the whole athletic department
– Really sad to hear this (High School Athletic Director)
-Uffda I’m sorry to see this. (State Senator Mark Johnson)
-As a former Alumni I had the opportunity to meet Coach at my hall of fame introduction. This process is absolutely disgusting and ridiculous! He did great things for a program that is underfunded and competes with the top D2 schools in the nation! If I was one of the recruits that he recently signed I would absolutely remove myself from that situation! What type of program are you trying to build ? What type of coach wants that security? I’m so disappointed in the AD and the HR and school! (former player Joe Hasz)
-This is so sad! Dan is an upright guy and has done great things for our community. What a loss for UMC! Best of Luck Dan, you will continue to do great things for young athletes! (Area High School coach)
-Their head is up where the sun doesn’t shine!! (Former U of M employee)
– SAD! It’s RIDICULOUS if they gave him no reason. It sounds like he was doing a GREAT job. I feel terrible for his family. Wishing him the best. It is SAD that Crookston is losing good people.
-Me and my daughter have had the pleasure of getting to know this family and we are deeply saddened and disappointed in UMC for making such a bad decision, they are going to regret letting go of such an excellent coach and role model for their students.
-Big L for UM-C. Great Man, Great Program (former UMC Coach)
-Very disappointing!! (Crookston business owner)
-Just curious what is going on at UMC? Has anyone looked at the KROX job shop, they have a lot of positions to fill. Why would anyone want to uproot their family & move here, who would want to coach knowing they could be let go with no explanation at all. Reading these comments makes me sad, sounds like our community is losing a great family, shame on you UMC.
– So there was no meeting with Dan at anytime BEFORE this to tell him of areas of concern or areas where improvement was needed…? WHO was the Human Resources person in the meeting with the AD? The chancellor did not think SHE should be there to show HER support for the decision, OR to give reasons FOR the decision? What a chicken manure way of handling this !!! (Former UMC Coach)
– It is still the same old same old year after year! (Former UMC Coach)
– This saddens me. I have had the opportunity to get to know this family and it will be a loss to our community and to UMC athletics.
-Great coach and an even better person. Sounds as if this was handled poorly to top it off! Tough loss for the community.
-I don’t know Coach Weisse, nor do I follow UMC sports closely, but I was impressed with his comments. As someone who spent my career educating young people I agreed with so much of his philosophy. The fact that he appreciated that the athletes were at UMC for an education and not just Basketball scores. Thanks, Coach Weisse, for showing not only compassion but class. I wish you and your family the best.
-UMC chases away yet another quality person, whether it’s coach, professor or staff member. It’s sad the total lack of moral they have, but it’s easy to see why it exists with how they treat good people. The loss here is not only to umc but to the community. Not only will we lose Dan and his wonderful family. We’ll also lose his staff, who are also very good people themselves. And you need to look no further then Dan’s staff to see the kind of leader he is. Ast. Coach is a high turnover position of people looking to advance, yet Dan’s staff have stuck by his side through thick and thin. (Former UMC employee)
-What a sad shame for the Crookston Community!! Pretty sure UMC should have thought about that decision just a bit more. Sounds a bit personal to me!! Not a very smart move! Maybe you should just get rid of the program!! That probably would have been much easier. I wish you the BEST Dan and you will be very missed by the community and I have no doubt you will move on to much better things than your life at UMC. Very SAD
-What an awful loss for our community. He has done so much for the CYBA program and especially the fifth grade girl basketball team! We are really saddened by this decision! We will pray for his sweet family.
– Disgusting. He is an amazing man and Coach. No one deserves that out of the blue and with no explanation. They have done so much for our community and that campus and that team. UMC will not see another dollar from me.
– My heart breaks for this family. I am very sorry to see Dan go, he is a great person and we always enjoyed him bringing recruits into the store. Good luck Dan, I wish you the best!!
-Ridiculous …..one of many (Former UMC employee and current Polk County Commissioner)
-Par for the course out there
There are many, many more, but you get the idea!
Here is what Dan had to say the morning he was non-renewed –
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Now onto the good news. Late Friday morning, KROX Radio found out that we had won the Edward R. Murrow Award for best newscast in Region 4 (Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin). We are now one of 13 finalists for the National award.
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The Crookston School District School Board announced on Tuesday evening that they are offering the interim Superintendent position to Dave Kuehn. Dave has been the superintendent at Underwood and was retiring after this year. He is coming to Crookston on Friday to negotiate the contract. Dave is a former IT guy, teacher, Activities Director, coach and more.
It is a great move by the School Board and it should be a seamless transition July 1!
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The annual Agassiz Valley Conference Softball Championship Night will be held Thursday, May 19 (make-up date Friday, May 20) in Thief River Falls. A decision will be made by noon if they are moving the games to Friday.
4:00 PM GAMES –
Field 1 Varsity RLF vs. Roseau
Field 2 Varsity Crookston vs. Northern Freeze
Field 3 Varsity Sacred Heart vs. Warroad
Field 4 JV EGF vs. West Marshall
Field 5 JV BGMR vs. TRF
6:00 PM GAMES
Field 1 Varsity TRF vs. BGMR
Field 2 Varsity EGF vs. West Marshall
Field 3 JV Warroad vs. Sacred Heart
Field 4 JV Crookston vs. Northern Freeze
Field 5 JV RLF vs. Roseau
7:45 Announcing of Conference Awards
8:00 Conference Championship Game: Roseau vs. RLF or BGMR
All-Conference players will be awarded based on the final placing of the teams on each half. You do not need to accept each of your All-Conference selections if you feel you do not have a deserving player.
1st Place: 3 players
2nd Place: 2 players
3rd Place: 2 players
4th Place: 1 player
5th Place: 1 player
Honorable Mention: One for each team
Additional All-Conference Players: The last few years one or two extra players from the stronger half of the conference have been selected for a total of 20 players on the All-Conference Team. It was suggested that we vote for the additional players. Please nominate any additional players you have who deserve all-conference recognition if you finish first or second in the half.
All-Conference Team and Honorable Mention Team will be presented before the Championship game.
Medals will be awarded to the champion and runner-up teams
Plaque will be awarded to the champion
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The Section 8A Boys Tennis tournament will begin on Monday, May 23 with the quarterfinals and semifinals played. The championship and individual tournament will start on Tuesday, May 24.
The tournament will be played at Alexandria and Minnewaska Area. The seeding meeting will be Friday with TRF and Minnewaska Area High School (Glenwood) being the top two seeds. After that, your guess is as good as mine. The other teams in the section are Crookston, East Grand Forks, Fergus Falls, New London-Spicer, and Osakis.
It will either be Crookston or New London-Spicer as the third seed. Then Perham at 5, East Grand Forks at 6, and Fergus Falls and Osakis at 7 and 8. This is my prediction after Tuesday night.
It will be a shock if it isn’t Thief River Falls and Minnewaska Area in the championship this year.
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The Section 8AA Softball Tournament begins on Tuesday, May 24. The schedule is below –
May 24 – 1st round at 5:00 PM at high seed
Game 1 – North 8 at North 1
Game 2 – North 5 at North 4
Game 3 – North 7 at North 2
Game 4 – North 6 at North 3
Game 5 – South 8/9 at South 1
Game 6 – South 5 at South 4
Game 7 – South 7 at South 2
Game 8 – South 6 at South 3
May 26 – North at Thief River Falls and South at Frazee
Instead of going through the entire schedule, here is the bracket
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The Section 8A Softball Tournament will start Tuesday, May 24 and I am THRILLED to say they are seeding 1 through 16 this year!!!! Hopefully baseball, and basketball can follow! The seeding date is Saturday, May 22.
May 24 – First and second rounds. 1st round at 4:00 PM and winners play at 6:00 PM
#16 at #1
#9 vs #8 (at #1 seeds field)
#12 vs #5 (at #4 seeds field)
#13 at #4
#14 at #3
#11 vs #6 (at #3 seeds field)
#10 vs #7 (at #2 seeds field)
#15 at #2
All winners play at #1, 2, 3, or 4 seed at 6:00 PM
The complete bracket is below –
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Make plans now to attend the 27th annual “Lace ‘em Up” basketball camp to be held in Red Lake Falls high school at the Robert Matzke Gym from June 6-10, 2022.
The camp is open to any boys or girls who are currently in grades K-11. The camp is set up to run from 8:00 a.m. until 11:30 for grades 6-11 each morning, and from 12:00 noon until 3:30 p.m. for grades K-6. The cost of the camp is $70 with a maximum cost per family of $100. If you register before May 22nd, you will also receive a camp T-shirt. After May 22, ALL SINGLE REGISTRATION FEES WILL BE $80 AND THE MAXIMUM COST PER FAMILY WILL BE $120, DUE TO CAMP PREPARATION AND AWARD ORDERS.
NOTE: by request, sixth graders may come in the morning, afternoon, or both for one price.
Cut on the dotted line and return the following to:
518 Champagne Ave.
Red Lake Falls, MN 56750
Make checks payable to: Steve Philion
If anyone needs help with the cost of the camp, let Mr. Philion know as we have people who have offered to cover costs for kids that need financial help.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Grade in 2021-2022________________(GRADE JUST COMPLETED)
I was a sixth grader this year and would like to come: (circle one)
MORNING AFTERNOON BOTH
T-shirt sizes: Please circle one:
Youth sizes: EXTRA SMALL SMALL MEDIUM LARGE
Adult sizes: SMALL MEDIUM LARGE X-LARGE XX-LARGE
I, the parent of the above student agree to allow my child to participate in the 2022 “Lace ‘em Up” basketball camp in Red Lake Falls. I also understand that the camp director, the City of RLF, and the RLF school district are not responsible for any injuries, accidents, or COVID that my child might incur.
SIGNATURE OF PARENT OR GUARDIAN:_______________________________________
Emergency cell number of parent or guardian:___________________________________
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How are former Crookston Pirates athletes doing in college or elsewhere?
****LET ME KNOW OF OTHERS TO ADD TO THE LIST email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Elise Tangquist, is the Assistant Girls Volleyball and Assistant Girls Golf Coach this year at Heritage Christian Academy in Maple Grove.
Katherine Geist, a sophomore, is running track for Carleton College.
Emma Boll, a freshman, is playing softball at Northwestern University in St. Paul.
Emma Borowicz is a freshman running track at Minnesota State Mankato.
Ben Trostad is a senior playing Men’s Golf at UMC.
Kaleb Thingelstad is a freshman playing golf at Kansas Wesleyan University. KWU is done for the fall season.
Joslynn Leach is a freshman playing golf at Concordia College in Moorhead. The Cobbers wrapped up the Fall season.
Brady Butt is a sophomore playing football at the University of Jamestown.
Rachel Hefta, is a junior playing volleyball at Hastings College in Nebraska.
Ty Hamre is playing football at Bemidji State University.
Paul Bittner is playing professional hockey in Germany, for Düsseldorf EG.
Gretchen Theis is a sophomore at NDSU on the Equestrian team.
Kate MacGregor is a senior swimming at Minnesota State Moorhead.
Aleece Durbin, is a Junior on the University of North Dakota Women’s Track and Field team.
Nick Garmen is a junior playing tennis at the University of Minnesota Morris.
Crookston School District Coaches –
Emily Meyer is the Pirate head girls hockey coach and softball assistant coach.
Lacia Hanson is the Junior High softball coach.
Jeremy Lubinski is a Pirate 8th Grade Football coach.
Amy Boll is the head Pirate Girls Track head coach
Sarah Reese is the Pirate Head Girls Soccer coach
Cody Brekken is the Crookston Community Pool Supervisor
Marley Melbye is the Head Girls Swimming coach
Brock Hanson is a Pirate Baseball volunteer assistant coach.
Ben Halos is a Pirate Baseball assistant coach.
Alex LaFrance is a Pirate Baseball volunteer assistant coach.
Jeff Perreault is the Pirate Girls Golf head coach
Wes Hanson is the Pirate Wrestling Head Coach and assistant boys golf coach
Kevin Weber is a Pirate Boys Basketball volunteer assistant coach
Connor Morgan is the Pirate Boys Hockey assistant coach
Sam Melbye is the Pirate Boys J.V. Hockey coach
Chris Dufault is a youth wrestling Coach
Colton Weiland is an assistant wrestling coach
Non-Crookston High School coaching –
Collin Reynolds is the head baseball coach for the University of Colorado Buffalo Club Baseball team.
Trent Stahlecker is a School Security Specialist & he works for the Brevard Public Schools, Florida
Cody Weiland is an assistant wrestling coach at Proctor/Hermantown
Josh Edlund is an assistant football coach and phy ed teacher at Flandreau, South Dakota.
Allison Lindsey Axness is Assistant Varsity Volleyball Coach in Champlin Park
Jeff Olson is Head Wrestling coach and Head Baseball coach at Delano.
Jake Olson is an Assistant Football Coach and Head Boys Tennis coach at Delano.
Katy Westrom, is Head Girls Tennis Coach and Head Boys Tennis coach at Monticello High School.
Matt Harris, is an Assistant Principal/Athletic Director at Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Marty Bratrud is the Superintendent and High School Principal at Westhope High School.
Gordie Haug is an assistant football coach at the University of Wyoming
Mike Hastings is the Minnesota State Mankato Men’s head Hockey coach
Mike Biermaier is the Athletic Director at Thief River Falls High School
Stephanie (Lindsay) Perreault works with the North Dakota State stats crew for Bison football and volleyball and basketball in the winter. Stephanie’s husband, Ryan, is the assistant director for the Bison media relations
Jason Bushie is the hockey athletic trainer at Colorado College
Chris Myrold is the Director and Fitness at Mission Ranch and Fitness in Camel, California.
Kyle Buchmeier is a Tennis Pro at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis
Ben Andringa is serving our country with the Army and is been deployed to Iraq for nine months.
Jarrett Butenhoff is serving our country with the U.S. Navy
Joshua Butenhoff is serving our country on a Submarine with the Pacific Fleet with the US Navy.
Peter Cournia is a 2002 Crookston High School Graduate and also a grad of West Point and is currently is serving in the U.S. Army.
Erik Ellingson is serving our country with the U.S. Air Force at Minot.
Philip Kujawa class of 2004 from Crookston High School. He is an Army recruiter in Rochester.
Rob Sobolik is the General Manager of the Fargodome
That’s it for this week. Thanks for the comments and if you have anything to add or share, please e-mail email@example.com or call. Thanks for reading and listening to KROX RADIO and kroxam.com.