ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

UND hopes to rename athletics building after former Olympian Fritz Pollard

The board’s approval would change the name of the High Performance Center, which was completed in 2015 and sits next to the soon-to-be removed Memorial Stadium, to the Fritz Pollard Jr. Athletic

Fritz Pollard Jr
UND is hoping to rename its High Performance Center after Fritz Pollard Jr. (Submitted photo)
We are part of The Trust Project.

UND wants to rename its High Performance Center after Fritz Pollard Jr., a former Olympian and one of its first Black graduates.

The State Board of Higher Education’s budget and finance committee recommended initial approval of the request by a 3-0 vote on Tuesday, Feb. 16. Now, the decision moves to the full board next week.

“He's a remarkable individual,” UND President Andrew Armacost said Tuesday. “This will be a prize building on our campus, the Fritz Pollard Athletic Center.”

The board’s approval would change the name of the High Performance Center, which was completed in 2015 and sits next to the soon-to-be removed Memorial Stadium, to the Fritz Pollard Jr. Athletic Center.

Pollard, who died in 2003, was a running back for the UND football team, ran track and was a member of the university’s varsity boxing team. He won a bronze medal in the men’s 110-meter hurdles in the 1936 Summer Olympics and was picked All-North Central Conference in 1937 and 1938. He was a Collier's Magazine Little All-America selection in football in 1938.

ADVERTISEMENT

Pollard, along with Horace Johnson, was one of the first two Black graduates of UND in 1939. He was the son of Fritz Pollard Sr., the NFL's first Black head coach and a member of the College Football and Pro Football Hall of Fames.

In a supporting document presented Tuesday, UND said Pollard “embodies UND’s mission and values through his remarkable service and leadership to society and our country.”

“He exhibited a lifelong passion for learning, civic engagement, and community leadership,” university leaders said. “His achievements both on- and off-campus highlight historical milestones for Black Americans. This naming request provides UND the opportunity to demonstrate its appreciation for diverse people, experiences and ideas.”

READ MORE ABOUT FRITZ POLLARD: Jesse Owens film brings back memories of UND track star Fritz Pollard Jr.

UND Athletic Director Bill Chaves said Pollard is “easily our most decorated football and track athlete.” The athletic center is now primarily used by the track and football teams, which would also reflect on Pollard’s legacy as a multi-sport athlete.

Fritz Pollard
UND will rename its High Performance Center after Fritz Pollard Jr. (Submitted photo)

Graduating with a bachelor's degree in education, Pollard went on to earn a law degree from John Marshall Law School in Chicago. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II; he later became a Foreign Service officer and taught physical education in Chicago.

ADVERTISEMENT

Pollard Jr. retired in 1981 as the director of the United States Department of State Office of Overseas Schools for U.S. citizens. He died at the age of 87 in 2003.

Armacost said the university accelerated the request by a month to coincide with Black History Month.

“We thought it would be entirely fitting to be able to do this,” he said.

The university also consulted with Altru Health System, one of the prime contributors to the High Performance Center, and said the hospital system was on board with the name change. UND’s alumni foundation has been in contact with the Pollard family.

“I think it's just a fantastic opportunity, not only for the University of North Dakota, but for the State Board of Higher Ed to recognize Mr. Pollard,” said committee chair Tim Mihalick.

The financial implications associated with reissuing maps and other printed materials identifying Fritz Pollard Jr. Athletic Center would be minimal and would occur upon a normal reprinting schedule. External signage would need to be installed, the university said.

The full State Board of Higher Education will meet on Feb. 25.

Related Topics: EDUCATIONGFH INSTAGRAM
Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.


For story pitches contact her at smook@gfherald.com or call her at 701-780-1134.
What to read next
Most lawmakers agree with Gov. Kristi Noem on her contention that record — and growing — surpluses allow the state to give dollars back to taxpayers. Exactly how to do that is up for debate.
$401 million race was nation’s most expensive
The budget, which features a topline dollar figure of $7.2 billion, makes investments in state employees, providers and the state's correctional infrastructure. Noem will look to push her proposals
The pilot, John Wissman, 52, his 16-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter were the only occupants of the plane.