Hardee resigns as volleyball coach

UND volleyball coach steps down following incident last weekend.

UND coach Ashley Hardee address the crowd after the team won its first Big Sky Conference regular season title at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center on Nov. 23. File photo.

Nearly two weeks after celebrating UND’s first Big Sky Conference regular season title, volleyball head coach Ashley Hardee has resigned.

UND Athletics Director Brian Faison announced Wednesday afternoon he has accepted the resignation of Hardee, effective immediately.

“I would like to extend a sincere apology to the program, the University and the community for a serious lapse in judgement,” Hardee said in a statement. “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work at the University of North Dakota, and I thank the entire community for its tremendous support over the past five years.”

The resignation came following an incident that occurred  when the team was in Portland, Ore., for the Big Sky tournament last weekend, in which Hardee is suspected for an alleged hit-and-run accident early Sunday morning. No one was injured.

UND put Hardee on paid administrative leave Monday.

“We met (Wednesday) after discussion about where we were in our review of the events from the weekend,” UND Director of Athletics Brian Faison said. “Ashley offered his resignation and I accepted it, so we’re in process now of carrying up for our search for a replacement. That search will begin immediately.”

Faison said the school has been interviewing student athletes, coaches and support staff about the trip last weekend but no charges have been filed.

“Clearly, it was an incident, and so we’ve been working with that in mind and with some other concerns in terms of communication reporting on the incident and those kinds of things,” Faison said. “We’ve decided this is the best course … it was time for him to make a change and certainly for program program, and he understood that.”

Hardee led UND to a co-championship of the Big Sky Conference regular season on Nov. 23 — UND’s first Big Sky title in any sport. During his five seasons as head coach after being hired in 2009, Hardee led UND to two titles in the Great West Conference and won the league’s coach of the year award twice.

With a search for a new head coach to begin immediately, there are many factors being considered in potential candidates.

“Division I experience is going to be important,” Faison said. “That can be as a head coach or an associate or assistant coach. We’re going to be looking at how effective at recruiting they’ve been. We’re going to be looking at their ability to manage and what kind of management experience they’ve had within the program. The associates and assistants are going to be very involved with that.”

In addition, candidates will be evaluated in their ability to continue the program’s persistence in generating community support.

“We obviously want someone who can go out and generate enthusiasm amongst the alumni and students and fans in particular — and work to continue to build,” Faison said. “We’re at a record setting year in attendance this year and we need to build of off that as well.”

Faison said the recent attendance growth in UND’s volleyball program and level of competition within the Big Sky Conference has made the position more appealing.

“This is an attractive program now, and we need someone who can come in and take us to literally the next level competitively,” he said. “I think we’ve got a great group of returning student athletes and we’re in a conference that, obviously, we can challenge now for a championship and carry through the tournament and hopefully get the NCAA bid.”

Elizabeth Erickson is the sports editor of The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].