UND athletics faces a Hardee reality

Volleyball coach resigns after suspicious hit-and-run in Portland.

Former UND volleyball coach Ashley Hardee addresses the crowd at the Betty Englestad Sioux Center before a game against Southern Utah. Hardee recently resigned from his post after an alleged hit-and-run accident in Portland. File photo. 

UND head volleyball coach, William ‘Ashley’ Hardee, resigned from his position, Dec. 4 after an alleged hit and run accident in Portland on Dec. 1 while driving with a suspended license.

“I’m disappointed,” UND Athletic Director Brian Faison said. “Hardee has done a tremendous job and has been successful, so it is sad we came to this end, but we need to ensure the safety of our student athletes.”

The UND volleyball team was in Portland for the Big Sky Tournament and was leaving for the airport at the time of the incident.

At 5:05 a.m. a University Center Hotel staff member reported a hit and run accident in a parking lot. Hardee allegedly hit an unoccupied vehicle. Although there were no injuries, five student athletes were in the vehicle with Hardee at the time.  The accident is under investigation by local law enforcement in Oregon.

Although it has not been confirmed whether alcohol was a factor in the accident, Portland State Vanguard — Portland State University’s newspaper — reported that UND volleyball player “Ellen Krueger told her father, Dave, that Hardee was visibly intoxicated and crashed a rental GMC Yukon into the Volkswagen Jetta before driving her and another to Portland International Airport.”

No officials have confirmed if the accident was alcohol-related. However, Hardee has had experience with an alcohol related offense.

The Grand Forks Herald reported that Hardee pleaded guilty and was charged with driving under the influence in June 2012, and paid a $501 fine to the Grand Forks Municipal Court.

“It is still under investigation, and we would not want to be premature,” UND spokesperson Peter Johnson said. “But we expect our coaches to use good judgement and demonstrate that behavior.”

Faison was not made aware of the allegations until the afternoon of Dec. 1 when the university found out after parents were “tweeting” about the incident.  Hardee was placed on administrative leave Dec. 2 and resigned two days later.

On Dec. 5, the athletic department discovered there was an issue with Hardee’s driver’s license, and he had been driving with a suspended driver’s license as a consequence of his previous DUI. Faison said he thinks Hardee was not aware he was driving a suspended license and was genuinely surprised to discover that his license was suspended.

Two volleyball players have quit since the incident, but Faison said it is not in connection to the incident. These two players had not seen much playing time and were ready to move on, according to Faison.

“The events from the trip influenced my decision a little bit, but I had already made up my mind before going to Portland,” said Emily Asche, who retired from the team after the trip.

Faison said the volleyball team had a close and professional relationship with Hardee and are  stunned that this happened.

“They are disappointed and concerned about what the future will hold,” Faison said.

Hardee has been the most successful UND volleyball coach to date, with three conference champions in five years. The UND athletic department will open the position to applicants as soon as possible.

“It is going to be a struggle because he was such a successful coach,” UND student and volleyball fan Jessica Barnett said.

However, Barnett said the incident was unprofessional on Hardee’s part and adults should take responsibility for their actions.

“I would like to extend a sincere apology to the program, the University and the community for a serious lapse in judgment,” Hardee said in a statement made Dec. 4. “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 UND athletic department also is looking for a new head football coach. Faison believes this is the first time UND has been looking for two head coaches at the same time. He said it is difficult, but the athletic department is prepared with a good staff.

Ashley Marquis is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].