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UND FOOTBALL: Roger Thomas to be inducted into UND Athletics Hall of Fame

Roger Thomas took over the UND football team in 1986, a program that needed some rebuilding.

His team finished 2-9 in 1986 but the following season North Dakota improved to 6-4. By 1992, Thomas had UND in the Division II playoffs. And for the roughly the next decade, UND was one of the marquee programs in Division II football.

Thomas ended his UND coaching career in 1998 but then served as the school’s athletic director until 2005. During his time as the UND AD, North Dakota won two national championships — in football (2001) and hockey (2000).

On Thursday, UND announced that Thomas will be inducted into the UND Athletics Hall of Fame in October. Other inductees include Jim Nelson (golf, 1963-66); Katie Stephens (diving, 1988-92) and the 1965 UND football team, the first in school history to compete in a bowl game.

“I’m honored and I’m humbled,” said Thomas, now the athletics director at the University of Mary.

 Thomas finished with a 90-43-2 record as the UND football coach and guided the program to five Division II postseason appearances. UND also won three straight North Central Conference titles under Thomas (1993, 1994, 1995).

As the school’s AD, Thomas oversaw the opening of Ralph Engelstad Arena and the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

After leaving UND in 2005, he served as commissioner of the NCC.

  •  Nelson lettered in golf from 1963-1966 and led UND to NCC titles in each of those three seasons. He also won back-to-back individual NCC titles as a junior and senior. Originally from Grand Forks, Nelson now resides in Houston.
  •  Stephens was a seven-time All-American and finished second on the 3-meter board at the 1992 NCAA Division II Championship. She helped lead UND to top-four national finishes in each of her four seasons. She was a four-time NCC Female Diver of the Year and still holds the school record in the 3-meter dive.
  •  UND’s 1965 football team finished 9-1 and defeated Northern Illinois 37-20 in the Mineral Water Bowl. Offensive tackle Dave “Butch” Lince was named first-team All-America by the Associated Press and quarterback Corey Colehour was honorable mention. Six players from that team went on to sign pro contracts or have pro tryouts. Five players from that team also are UND Hall of Fame individual inductees.

In addition, Scott Knowlen and Jeff Schumacher, teammates on the 1983 and 1984 UND wrestling teams, will receive the Thomas J. Clifford Award that honors UND alumni that are successful coaches at the high school or collegiate level. Knowlen and Schumacher are co-head coaches at Bismarck High School.

Wayne Westlund will receive the UND Honorary Letterwinner Award for his years of service as a scoreboard operator for football and women’s basketball. The 1964 graduate of the UND School of Law also served on the board of directors for the Fighting Sioux Club (now Champions Club).

The 40th annual Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 4 and will take place prior to UND’s home football game against Montana.

The Class of 2014 will be recognized during halftime of the football game.

Wayne Nelson
Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
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