Exclusive: ‘I recognized that I needed to step back,' says ex-Bison volleyball coachAthletic director Lynn Dorn: ‘Erich does have an intensity he was unable to manage’
By: Jeff Kolpack and Kevin Schnepf, INFORUM
No one questioned the intensity former North Dakota State head volleyball coach Erich Hinterstocker brought to his job. But his sudden resignation on Tuesday sparked the following question:
Did he go too far?
Hinterstocker said Wednesday night he needed to re-evaluate how his intensity not only affected his life but the Bison volleyball program as well.
It got to the point, he said, where he was thinking of getting out of coaching during the past year.
“I am incredibly intense as a coach and a competitor,” Hinterstocker said. “I have great expectations of myself, coaches and players to achieve a high level of success, not only on the court, but in the classroom, and that’s a lot for everyone to handle.”
Some claim that high level of success came at too high of a price.
When asked to deny or confirm allegations obtained by The Forum regarding verbal abuse and physically grabbing a player, NDSU women’s athletic director Lynn Dorn said, “Erich does have an intensity he was unable to manage.”
Hinterstocker responded by saying he was trying to put the pieces together to make a championship-level program.
“The way that I chose to do it was all-consuming,” Hinterstocker said. “I recognized that I needed to step back.”
Milo Johnson, the father of former Bison players Mattie and Leah Johnson, said Wednesday that Hinterstocker tended to be controlling, manipulative and intimidating.
Both his daughters were setters, and Mattie Johnson was the 2007 Summit League Setter of the Year as a sophomore. She had her playing time reduced the final two years.
“He did have an (verbal) abusive side to him, from what I understand,” Milo Johnson said. “It was somewhat of an ongoing problem. His role should be mentoring and developing, and not being abusive and intimidating.”
Dorn said she thinks Hinterstocker’s resignation was like a pressure cooker that accumulated over time. She took some of the blame, saying she was disappointed in herself for not having a better pulse on a potential problem.
Milo Johnson said he believed the players were too scared to talk to anybody – including administrators.
“Yes, I believe (Dorn) was concerned,” he said. “I think she had a tough time getting the girls opening up to her and finding out exactly what was happening.”
Said Hinterstocker: “I felt like our doors were always open. Our players were always encouraged to come and talk to us about anything.”
Dorn said she was aware of complaints to Hinterstocker from parents. His resignation, however, came after discussions between the two on Monday and Tuesday. The team was told by Dorn at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Hinterstocker confirmed it was his decision to resign after five years and a 95-38 record. That included two Summit League championships, a berth to the 2008 NCAA tournament and a league-record 42 straight regular-season conference wins.
He said he made his decision on Sunday. He said he didn’t meet with the team because he said he didn’t want to distract the team from its matches this weekend.
“I just didn’t feel like I could go in there and not have a ton of emotions,” Hinterstocker said. “I just want them to be successful. I poured everything I had into this program the last four and a half years.”
Hinterstocker said he doesn’t know if he’ll get back into coaching. He had a contract through 2011 that paid him $76,400 annually. Dorn said Hinterstocker will be paid through December.
“I’m going to take some time to just sit back and spend time with my family,” said Hinterstocker, who is married with two young sons.
Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549 or email@example.com and Forum sports writer Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546 or firstname.lastname@example.org