So it appears that for the first time in a decade, Dickinson State will be looking for a new athletic director. I had a good conversation with DSU AD Roger Ternes on Friday afternoon and he confirmed that he has now interviewed twice for the athletic director position at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, an NCAA Division III school about three times the size of DSU.
Ternes said he recently returned from a trip there with his wife, Audrey, and that they both really enjoyed the community and it reminded him of Missouri, where they spent several years before returning to DSU.
From the conversation we had and from what I’m hearing from coaches and staff members, all signs are pointing to Ternes being on the way out. It sounds like Wisconsin-River Falls has yet to work out the details of his proposed contract and he’s just waiting on that. Without Ternes, DSU would be scrambling to find a new athletic director, which likely wouldn’t happen before the school year begins unless they hire internally or locally.
When I asked him about leaving the school a bit in a lurch as far as finding a replacement for him quickly, Ternes responded simply, “When would be a good time to leave?” He has a point there. That’s Ternes. His answers may be firm and often they are rough, but there’s no denying he good at either getting to the point or completely skirting it.
While his departure wouldn’t ruffle the feathers of some, I won’t go as far as to say he has been a polarizing figure at DSU. I mean, one hears things covering a college athletic department for four years.
Here’s what I know:
— No one is completely in love with Ternes, nor does anyone hate him out of pure spite.
— From all my experiences with him, he is a good enough guy who has his heart in the right place.
— He has kept a very professional demeanor with those in his charge, sometimes to a fault. However, all this means is that he’s not afraid to do his duties as a boss. Sure he’s upset some people in his tenure, but the number of good things he has accomplished at DSU likely outweigh the negatives.
— He told me that the worst part about leaving DSU is he knows he won’t have coaches like the ones he has at DSU. And he’s not just trying to put on a good face for his employees either. You could tell that he genuinely understands that where he’s going, there isn’t going to be a veteran like Hank Biesiot, there won’t be anyone as outgoing as Pete Stanton and there isn’t going to be an up-and-comer with the guts that Ty Orton has shown.
— He helped get the softball program going (though he told me today he didn’t actually initiate the program, it had happened in the months before he took the job) and it has been DSU’s second-most successful sport this decade behind men’s track and field. On that same token, there are many on DSU’s campus who believe Guy Fridley would still be a coach there if not for Ternes. These two have always had a professional relationship and if anything, Fridley’s departure last summer boiled down to salary. While I have heard rumors that the school low-balled him, I’m not going to go somewhere where I don’t know every fact of the matter.
— From all reports, he did a good job preaching the athletic department’s needs and wants to the fundraisers and donators of the Badlands Activities Center. While Ternes admits the process led to way too many meetings for his taste, he came out of it ahead. I mean, how many athletic directors can say they helped build a $16 million football and track stadium at their school. While it may have taken him much of his tenure at DSU to accomplished, he did his part in getting the job done.
— While he didn’t say it, I can only think back to our March conversations we had about the possibility of DSU having to leave the NAIA and go Division II if every school around it made the move, which is on the verge of happening. (Black Hills State and South Dakota Mines will find out if they’ve been accepted in early July.) He knows how much of an uphill climb this is going to be. It wouldn’t surprise me if he sees the writing on the wall here and wants to get out while the getting’s good, so to speak.
Ternes is 55 years old. On Friday he said, “I’ve got one move left in me.” There’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to make that move unless, for some reason, or River Falls backs off or lowballs the hell out of him. At this point, I don’t either happening.
What do you think about Ternes likely leaving DSU? Good riddance? Sorry to see him go? Thoughts?