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Dill named new Bemidji State AD, will replace Goeb starting on June 1

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BEMIDJI – Bemidji State University and Tracy Dill had their sights set on one another for a long time.

Dill, currently an associate athletic director at St. Cloud State University, was named BSU’s new athletic director Thursday. He will officially begin duties as athletic director June 1, taking over for the outgoing Rick Goeb.

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Dill, 54, said the decision to come to Bemidji after spending 27 years in St. Cloud wasn’t something he took lightly, but it was something he knew he wanted from the moment he applied.

"If it was offered, I had every intention of taking it," Dill said after being formally introduced at the university Thursday. "It was the perfect time for our family, number one. And I just looked at everything and saw they had some good people in place.

"I have some real great respect for the people here. I wouldn’t have looked at this position without knowing what the promise was and knowing the people that were here."

Thursday’s announcement ended a months-long search that began last November when the university announced it would be replacing current athletic director Goeb at the end of the 2012-13 academic year.

In an email to BSU boosters in November, president Richard Hanson said the school needed better fundraising efforts to be more competitive in athletics.

Hansen said Thursday he knew Dill was BSU’s top choice after spending time with him last week when Dill, the only finalist for the job, came to Bemidji for an in-person interview.

"I really got to know Tracy after the committee said he was the finalist," Hanson said. "The way we did the interview was really an excellent process. I got to spend separate time with him, which was very, very important and I got to ask all kinds of questions that I needed to ask.

"You look back and you see, well, he was our guy for quite a while... Maybe even before he knew it."

The Iowa native started his career in 1981 as an assistant football coach at his alma mater, William Penn College. He was also the head track and field coach at the Oskaloosa, Iowa, school before being hired at St. Cloud State in 1988, also as an assistant football coach.

In St. Cloud, Dill wore many hats, including football coach, assistant track coach, head women’s track coach, assistant athletic director and associate athletic director, which has been his title since 1999.

One thing Hanson and the rest of the search committee liked about Dill was his vast experience – he’s been a coach, an administrator, a marketer and a fundraiser, often simultaneously.

Bemidji State hockey coach Tom Serratore can vouch for Dill’s ability to get things done. Serratore was an assistant hockey coach at St. Cloud State from 1993-99 and saw Dill make the transition to different jobs with ease.

"He brings just a wealth of experience as a coach, an administrator and a fundraiser," Serratore said. "He’s just a jack-of-all trades who understands what goes into making an athletic department work.

"He’s ready for this challenge, I think he’ll be a great fit."

Serratore wasn’t the only BSU coach who Dill impressed. Head men’s basketball coach Mike Boschee doesn’t know Dill well yet but said he has high hopes.

"I think he’s a great choice," Boschee said. "Tracy seems like a really good guy and I think he’s really going to help the entire athletic department get better."

Dill will take over June 1, but said he doesn’t expect to implement any major overhauls right away. Creating partnerships and fostering relationships with the community – two phrases Dill repeated many times Thursday during his introductory press conference – take time to develop.

"There’s no magic button I can push that’s going to create everything and make everything better on one day," Dill said. "You just can’t do some of this stuff right away. I’m going to meet with everyone, because I don’t know them the way you need to know them. I have to listen well and get involved."

Tracy and his wife, Kristy, plan on moving to Bemidji soon. They have two grown sons. Trey is a defensive line coach at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and lives in Hermantown. Tye, a recent graduate of St. Cloud State, lives and works in Minneapolis.

"I’m anxious to get started," he said. "There’s an immense amount of opportunities here.

"I do realize there will be challenges. I’m looking forward to developing new external and internal relationships. I believe that’s critical to the success of an athletic program."

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Jack Hittinger
Jack Hittinger is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer, focusing on Bemidji State but also covering area high schools. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at http://thebeaverblog.areavoices.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.
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