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UND coach Roebuck apologizes to NDSU president for 'racist blowhards' remark

Reported remarks made by UND women's basketball coach Gene Roebuck at a UND Booster lunch last week have resulted in an apology to North Dakota State President Dean Bresciani.

Gene Roebuck
UND women's basketball coach Gene Roebuck. (Herald file photo)

Reported remarks made by UND women's basketball coach Gene Roebuck at a UND Booster lunch last week have resulted in an apology to North Dakota State President Dean Bresciani.

At the booster lunch held Friday at the Alerus Center, Roebuck allegedly called North Dakota State fans "racist blowhards." That remark allegedly was in response to North Dakota State fans chanting "Sioux suck" during a welcome-home celebration for the Bison football team after it won the NCAA Division I FCS championship against Sam Houston State on Jan. 7.

UND Athletic Director Brian Faison, who was not at the booster lunch, said he apologized to NDSU Athletic Director Gene Taylor immediately after he was informed of Roebuck's comments.

Today, Roebuck emailed an apology to Bresciani. The UND coach is in Boston, where his team is played Harvard tonight.

Roebuck's apology read: "President Bresciani: I would like to apologize for an inappropriate comment I made in reference to North Dakota State University at booster luncheon last Friday.

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"As a lifelong resident of North Dakota, I have great respect for North Dakota State University and the state of North Dakota. Please accept my apology."

The apology arrived on the day UND and North Dakota State were to play a men's basketball game at Ralph Engelstad Arena, the first meeting between the rivals in Grand Forks since 2004.

Taylor said he appreciated the apology he received from Faison's shortly after the comments.

"I didn't ask Brian what it was, but I said I appreciated the call," Taylor said. "I have not heard anything more."

"One thing (Faison) told me is it's one thing if a 20-year-old football player says something," Taylor aid. "It's another thing when an experienced coach says something inappropriate. That's all he told me."

Taylor said apologies and remarks between the schools have been going on for years and said comments go both ways between the fan bases.

"Recently, we've been the only ones ever to say anything but it's always gone both ways and it's not fun for anybody," Taylor said. "It's not the guys on the court. It's the fan base. It's been going on since before I got here and recently it was directed at us. That's not always the case."

The NDSU fans' taunt and Roebuck's response come as UND works to complete the retirement of its historic Fighting Sioux nickname and logo to comply with terms of a settlement with the NCAA.

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Passions remain high concerning the nickname, however, as federal lawsuits and petition drives continue. One of the concerns cited by people favoring the retirement of UND's Fighting Sioux logo has been the difficulty of controlling incidents involving abusive use of the name and logo, at UND and at schools where UND teams compete.

Nelson reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1268; (800) 477-6572, ext. 268; or send e-mail to wnelson@gfherald.com .

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.


He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.



He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.



Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or wnelson@gfherald.com.
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