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Outgoing NDSU president set for his final ride in Frisco

Dean Bresciani has been a part of all eight FCS national titles.

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North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani arrives at the Omni Hotel with the Bison football team in Frisco, Texas, on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022.
David Samson / The Forum
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FRISCO, Texas — The start came after a semifinal win against Georgia Southern in 2011 at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. North Dakota State president Dean Bresciani walked into the Bison locker room and presented head coach Craig Bohl with a pair of cowboy boots.

It was a signature administrative moment that the Bison were headed to Frisco, Texas, and the Division I FCS national title game. At the time, it seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.

Eleven years later, it’s been almost as regular as Christmas.

"It's weird, it's like a family that gets together for the holidays and this is the last time I'm getting together with my family," Bresciani said. "It's bittersweet for sure, but exciting nonetheless."

Bresciani and the contingent of Bison players, coaches and staff arrived at the Omni Hotel in Frisco early Wednesday evening. They got out of frigid Fargo after a slight delay to moderate temperatures in Frisco.

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On Saturday, with the Bison playing Montana State for a chance at its ninth FCS championship, Bresciani will walk into Toyota Stadium like a cowboy making his last ride. He’s in his last year as the NDSU president.

He was wearing cowboy boots on Wednesday along with a suit coat and tie.

"I don't know that he even saw what this was going to be or transpire into," Bresciani said of Bohl. "I'll never forget: We were walking onto the stage after we won and I said, 'Craig, you've elevated the bar and people's expectations.' And he says, 'President Bresciani, you don't do this two years in a row!' Yeah, three, four, five, six, seven, eight maybe."

Bresciani has not missed a Bison game, both home and away, since arriving in Fargo in 2010.

And in most away games, even in inclement weather, he watched in the elements either in the stands or on the sideline. Not in some posh guest suite.

"I'm proud of making that contribution to the guys," Bresciani said. "Absolutely outside on the sidelines for the away games and I want those guys to see me down there. I want them to see that I'm there and if it's cold that I'm there, if it's wet that I'm there, if it's snowing that I'm there because I think it sends a message and it's the message I want to send to them."

He attends most postgame press conferences with head coach Matt Entz and Bison players, as well as opposing coaches and players. He said it's a good place to judge people after both a win or a loss.

In the case of the Bison, it's been mostly victories.

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"People have made fools of themselves when they won and people have made fools of themselves when they lost," he said. "I've always been very pleased with the preparation of our coaches and our players. They are invariably the class in those press conferences after the game."

Bresciani said he's not certain what he's going to do next year. He doesn't see himself disconnecting from NDSU and Bison athletics.

Life has changed for Bresciani over the years. He’s had his battles with the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education, which ultimately decided his fate as president.

He got married to NDSU graduate and successful architect Kristi Hanson. A life of retirement may not be far away.

"Kristi's passion for NDSU and for athletics exceeds even mine," Bresciani said. "It was a match made in heaven."

He's one of the few who have made all nine trips to Frisco as a part of the NDSU program. Assistant coach Nick Goeser and head strength and conditioning coach Jim Kramer are others.

"He obviously means a lot to the athletic program," said athletic director Matt Larsen. "He gave me the opportunity to work here and he holds a special place for me, but for our program as well."

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Former North Dakota State head football coach Craig Bohl hoists a cowboy boot representing Frisco, Texas, after it was presented to him by president Dean Bresciani after defeating Georgia Southern in the 2011 Division I Football Championship Subdivision semifinals at the Fargodome. David Samson / The Forum
David Samson/Forum Communications Co.

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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