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UND volleyball coach Jeremiah Tiffin fired after Fighting Hawks end season with 28 consecutive losses

Tiffin had been on administrative leave since mid-October.

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Fighting Hawks head volleyball coach Jeremiah Tiffin, center, talks to his players between the first and second sets of a morning volleyball match against Green Bay at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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The UND volleyball season came to an end Saturday afternoon.

South Dakota State swept the Fighting Hawks 25-23, 25-21, 25-16 in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, ending a season in which UND set several dubious school records, including fewest wins, lowest winning percentage and longest losing streak.

A program that reached the NCAA Division-I tournament as recent as 2016 and 2017 imploded during a season in which its head coach, Jeremiah Tiffin, was put on administrative leave and the team reeled off 28 consecutive losses.

Tiffin was officially let go by the school Monday afternoon.

"I felt this was the right time to make a leadership change in our volleyball program," UND athletic director Bill Chaves said in a statement. "We wish Jeremiah the best in the future."

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Tiffin's base salary was $90,000 and he had one more year left on his contract. UND says it will be using the buyout option, which means it owes Tiffin his full salary for 12 months. If Tiffin finds employment elsewhere, it would reduce UND's costs depending on Tiffin's new salary.

UND finished the season 1-29. Its lone win came in Game 2 against Seton Hall in Logan, Utah.

UND went a second-consecutive season without a home win.

The Fighting Hawks were 0-12 in Grand Forks this season, 0-8 last season, something that would have been unthinkable a decade ago when former coach Ashley Hardee turned the program into a mid-major power that packed The Betty and routinely dispatched anyone that came in. From 2008-11, UND was 37-3 at home.

UND has lost more home games in the last two seasons (0-20) than it did in the entire decade from 2008-17, when it went 102-19.

The program has fallen on hard times since 2017, when it went 30-8 and reached the NCAA tournament. UND went 14-18 the following year, Mark Pryor's last at the helm, and has gone 12-18, 2-16 and 1-29 under Tiffin.

Tiffin was put on administrative leave in mid-October. The school didn't release any details behind it. Tiffin's personnel file, obtained by an open-record request, didn't contain anything relevant.

Other items, including emails and a physical letter to Tiffin, were not subject to release yet, because they relate to an internal investigation that has not concluded and 75 days have not passed since the complaint was received, the school said.

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Erin Green, a longtime assistant who helped the Fighting Hawks reached the program's all-time high points, and Steve Rindfleisch were in charge the rest of the season.

Green will oversee the program in the interim. Rindfleisch will leave the school.

"I'm incredibly proud of this team," Rindfleisch said after the season finale. "When you find yourself in the situation where you're not winning games, and all of the sudden you have new head coaches, it's really easy to give up and it's really easy to say, 'Well, I'm done.' But these players didn't do that. We might not have the wins we were hoping for at the end of the season, but we saw improvement. We broke a lot of individual records and career records the last couple games.

"In this profession, that's the standard everybody judges success by — their wins and losses. But a lot of times you don't have control over whether or not you're going to win. You don't have control of how good the other team is. You don't have control over what calls the refs make, as we saw tonight. You don't have control over whether or not you're healthy or injured. But one of the things I've been incredibly proud of this team for us controlling what they can control."

UND honored five seniors Saturday, including Langdon's Madi Hart, who led the team with 4.55 digs per set.

"It's always a bittersweet moment when you come to Senior Night," Rindfleisch said. "Getting an opportunity to see the players you've had a chance to coach, for me, most of their careers, and seeing them develop not just as players but the people they've become, it's a bittersweet moment."

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N.D. State's Syra Tanchin spikes the ball past Fighting Hawks outside hitter McCallister Gayle (17) and middle hitter Lexi Ahrens (7) in the first set of a Summit League rivalry volleyball match at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center on Saturday, November 13, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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