Mussman sacked

After a disappointing season, head football coach terminated earlier this week.

UND football coach Chris Mussman, who was fired this week after a poor end to the season. File photo.

Following a disappointing 2013 season, UND head football coach Chris Mussman was relieved of his duties by Athletic Director Brian Faison on Monday.

“As the season progressed, and I analyzed all of the various components of our football program, I did not feel that we were where we should be competitively and a change in direction was needed,” Faison said.

Faison said the decision was not an easy one.

“Personnel decisions are always hard,” Faison said. “You are not just impacting the head coach and their family, but the assistant coaches and their families, the student-athletes and the support staff.”

The decision came after North Dakota finished its sophmore season in the Big Sky Conference at 2-6 (3-8 overall).

The 2013 campaign was Mussman’s sixth season as head coach at UND and his 14th year on UND’s coaching staff.  Mussman originally joined the team in 1999 as an offensive line coach and progressed to the role of offensive coordinator in 2001. In 2008, he was named head coach. Following Saturday’s loss to UC Davis, Mussman finished his coaching career at UND with a 31-34 record.

The game of football and a career as a coach has been a road long traveled by Mussman. Before coming to North Dakota, Mussman spent eight seasons with the Minnesota State University Mavericks. In college, Mussman was a four-year letter winner and starting offensive lineman at Iowa State.

The decision to continue without Mussman was a decision that arose in the interest of making the team more competitive in the Big Sky and not as a result of any off the field behavior or personal issues. Mussman said there is no bad blood held within either party involved.

“I’m disappointed, obviously,” Mussman told the Grand Forks Herald. “But I understand the decision. I have no hard feelings for Brian or President Kelley.”

Mussman also continued to be positive on social media, tweeting, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” on Monday after the announcement.

North Dakota will begin a national search for its new leadership and hopes to find a candidate by the end of winter. With postseason collegiate football in full swing, potential suitors for the position will still be encompassed while finishing out the season with their current teams. The athletics department is expecting to hire in December.

Any of the nine assistant coaches may also be out of a job after their contract ends in January, depending on what the new head coach decides.

“We are conducting a national search looking for the individual that will be the right fit for UND,” Faison said. “NCAA coaching experience is a must. They must be committed to the academic success of our student-athletes; but, most important, this individual must have a proven track record as an exceptional recruiter.”

Mussman had two years left on his contract. As part of his deal with UND, Mussman will receive his full salary for the 2014 season and half of his salary for 2015, provided he does not accept a coaching position with another team.

“We want to build a football program that embraces the academic mission of the University while fielding a competitive FCS Division I team that will challenge for a berth in the NCAA Playoffs,” Faison said.

Ashley Marquis and David Butz are staff writers for The Dakota Student. They can be reached at [email protected].