BEMIDJI – Longtime Bemidji State University athletic director Rick Goeb will be replaced at the end of the 2012-13 academic year.
In an email sent Monday to key supporters of Beaver athletics, BSU President Richard Hanson said the move follows a comprehensive institutional review of the athletics department, a process that outlined key priorities.
“The common theme among those priorities is a need for increased funding on several fronts: to bolster our coaching staffs, to increase the availability of scholarships for our student-athletes, and to improve our facilities,” Hanson wrote.
Goeb, who was hired as BSU’s first full-time athletics director in 2001, will remain in his position through the end of the school year.
“I’m just going to say that in 12 years, we’ve accomplished a lot,” Goeb said Monday afternoon when reached on his cell phone.
As athletics director, he oversees an athletics program consisting of Division I hockey for men and women and 15 Division II sports.
“I’m very proud … looking at where our programs were in 2001 and where they are today,” said Goeb, who isn’t under contract with BSU. “The coaches we’ve brought in have been first-rate. We’ve accomplished quite a bit in a short period of time. We’ve won conference championships. There’s been a lot of good things.”
More than a dozen coaching positions have been created or filled during his tenure, according to his biography on the BSU Athletics website. In addition, BSU also hired its first full-time athletics fundraiser.
Specifically, Goeb said he was proud the BSU men’s team was accepted into the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
“I’ll stand behind the result of what we’ve accomplished,” he said.
Hanson, who was not available for comment, said in his email that a review of BSU’s athletics showed the university must strengthen its financial footing to remain competitive.
“Because we cannot in good conscience direct more state dollars to athletics, we must inspire greater private support from people like you,” Hanson wrote. “This means we must work harder and more creatively to build enthusiasm for our teams.”
Ten years ago, two-thirds of BSU’s budget came from state appropriations compared to about a third from tuition. Those figures have reversed, with two-thirds of the budget coming from tuition fees paid by students, according to Scott Faust, director of communications and marketing for BSU.
Additionally, the university hasn’t been able to keep up with scholarships offered at other Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference schools – those institutions competing against BSU in all sports except hockey, he said.
For instance, BSU funds the equivalent of 46 scholarships – distributed among many more student athletes – in its 15 Division II sports, compared to an average of nearly 64 at other NSIC schools in those same sports, Faust said.
BSU sees a disparity in its staffing level, scholarships dollars and ticket revenues compared to its NSIC counterparts, he said.
The men’s and women’s hockey teams each provide the equivalent of 18 scholarships, a WCHA requirement.
BSU athletics’ budget for the 2012-13 academic year is $7.32 million. According to BSU, the money is spent in the following ways:
- $1.1 million for scholarships
- $2.72 million for sports operations like travel, recruiting and equipment
- $1.14 million for administrative operations
- $790,000 for administrative salaries
- $1.57 million for coaches’ salaries
Faust said BSU needs to raise more private dollars to increase scholarships, hire more coaches and recruit student athletes.
“This isn’t about a dollar amount,” said Faust, adding the university must do more to engage the public to support BSU’s athletics.
BSU was one of six founding members of the NSIC in 1932, according to the conference website. Minnesota State Mankato, St. Cloud State and University of Minnesota Duluth all left the NSIC at different times to join the North Central Conference but returned to the NSIC in 2008 when that conference folded.
Goeb said raising enough funds to keep the Beavers competitive became more difficult as the conference expanded and accepted private universities, including Augustana in Sioux Falls, S.D.
“That did present challenges for Bemidji State,” he said, noting that the NSIC became a “new conference.”
Goeb joined BSU’s staff after six years as senior associate athletics director at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Previously, he was an administrator at North Dakota and head wrestling coach at St. Cloud State.
Originally from Anoka, Minn., Goeb received his undergraduate degree at North Dakota State, where he was also a Division II national wrestling champion. He earned his master’s from Northern Colorado and doctorate from North Dakota.
“As a Beaver Pride board member, I’ve never had any concerns or issues with how things have been handled,” said Kevin Waldhausen, a Bemidji city councilor who is friends with Goeb. “I’ve always viewed Rich as an outstanding guy and a very strong proponent for all of the athletic departments.”
BSU will conduct a national search to replace Goeb, aiming to find someone who will garner more private funding, “energizing our program,” and tell the story of BSU athletics, Faust said.
Goeb, he said, has provided “important services” but the university needs to move in a new direction.
“When you’re setting new objectives and the status quo is not acceptable, it makes sense to bring in a new person at that point,” Faust said.