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Former MSUM, NDSU coach Skaar dies at 82

Marv Skaar, a former head men's basketball coach at Minnesota State Moorhead and North Dakota State who ex-players say could light up a room when he walked in, died Thursday in Red Wing.

He was 82.

Skaar was the Bison head coach for six years from 1972-78, compiling a 93-69 record. His best season was 1973-74, when the Bison went 17-10 and qualified for the NCAA Midwest Regional.

But more than games and records, he was "Marvelous Marv" to the basketball community.

"He was a people person," said former NDSU player Paul Shogren. "He was a player's coach."

But his best success in the college ranks was at Moorhead, where his 1970-71 Dragons team is considered one of the best in school history.

They went 24-1 including wins over Division I Central Michigan and a 99-82 blowout win at NDSU, which went on to win a conference title.

"He was an amazing guy, we thought the world of him," said Larry Scott, former sports information director at MSUM. "He was a character. I remember traveling with the team and the players called him 'Groovy.' He was pretty in touch with the players."

Those people skills parlayed into the ability to recruit, something former player Mike Driscoll remembers when Skaar extended an invitation to him to play at NDSU.

"Marv was the one that gave me a chance to play," Driscoll said. "I always wanted to play at 'SU and Marv was a great recruiter, I know that."

After leaving the area, he retired to Bemidji where he didn't forget his players.

Whenever Shogren traveled to Bemidji when his daughter, Andrea Shogren, played for Moorhead High, Skaar was always there.

"Even after it was all said and done, it showed how much he cared about his kids and players," Shogren said. "It was so funny. Here I'm watching my daughter and he's talking and talking."

Skaar, who graduated from Moorhead High and MSUM, died of complications from a stroke at Fairview Medical Center in Red Wing.

"I remember always being so proud of him, to know that he was a gentlemen's coach," said Andrea Rott, his oldest daughter. "He was not someone kicking a chair into the seats, yelling and berating anybody. I was also proud as someone who was going to be a teacher that I knew that he was making sure his boys went to class. He would make them sit if they would miss a class."

He was inducted into the North Dakota Coaches Hall of Fame in 1994. He coaches at Oakes from 1952-56, Grand Forks Central from 1956-67 and at Moorhead State from 1967-72, where he posted an 87-35 record. When getting the Dragons job in 1967, he once said about recruiting: "I'm not afraid of it a bit."

Skaar resigned from NDSU in 1978 to enter private business.

He was also an adept baseball coach leading Grand Forks to the American Legion World Series in 1967 - the first team from North Dakota to do so.

"He was optimistic to the core," Rott said. "He was 'Marvelous Marv.'"

Jeff Kolpack is a reporter at The Red Wing (Minn.) Republican Eagle, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.