Valley to Summit: UND football returns to campus starting next week

North Dakota Fighting Hawks offensive linesman Matt Waletzko (76) celebrates teammate Nate Ketteringham's (8) first quarter rush touchdown against Portland State last Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. Nick Nelson / Forum News Service

To start this month, UND has opened Ralph Engelstad Arena and the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center as the campus begins the process of bringing athletes back to its facilities following the lengthy coronavirus shutdown.

Next week, it appears we can add the football program to the growing list of returning athletes.

A UND spokesman confirmed Thursday that the football program expects athletes to return to campus starting next week, although actual training might not take place immediately.

Athletes are expected to have temperatures checked upon entering school facilities. Players coming back to Grand Forks from outside the area via public transportation will be required to self-quarantine.

Unlike in the past, when athletes could use a swipe card to access certain facilities after hours, athletes are required to be screened at every facility entry.


The football program presents some unique challenges to administrators because of roster size of nearly 100 players. That presents challenges at Hyslop Sports Center, Memorial Stadium and the High Performance Center.

UND athletic director Bill Chaves has been hesitant to provide specific dates for the return of athletes due to the number of moving parts for everything to come together. For example, workout equipment is being adjusted to reflect distancing benchmarks, while new levels of cleaning supplies are being ordered and new paperwork is being filed.

NDSCS swaps former UND hoopers

Former UND basketball player Thomas Dryburgh recently left his post as head women's basketball coach at North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton to become head girls basketball coach at Moorhead High School.

NDSCS filled Dryburgh's spot with former UND men's basketball player Adam Jacobson.

"I'm euphoric," Jacobson told WDAY's Dom Izzo earlier this week. "It's a different feel, when you're on the phone, and you're the one making decisions. I spent 12 years as an assistant, taking directives on what we are wanting to do. To be the top guy, I'm beyond excited."

Jacobson has 12 years of collegiate coaching and recruiting experience, most recently at the University of Mary, where he was an associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. Prior to the University of Mary, he spent four years at UND as an assistant basketball coach, recruiting coordinator and game scheduler.

As a player, Jacobson played three seasons (2003-06) at North Dakota after transferring from Northern Iowa. In his senior campaign, the Fargo native averaged 10.5 points and 3.1 rebounds per game while shooting 38 percent from beyond the three-point arc (33-of-87).

UND still aiming at Canada?

The UND women's basketball team doesn't have anywhere near the deep tradition of recruiting Canada as UND programs like hockey and even football.


But UND women's basketball has now gone north of the border twice this offseason.

The Fighting Hawks already have a verbal commitment from 2021 prospect Miranda VanderWal, a 6-foot-6 center from Strathroy, Ontario, who committed in late May.

According to Twitter reports, UND has now also offered 2023 prospect Kiera Pemberton of Langley, British Columbia.


-- Todd Hefferman of the Southern Illinoisan reports Southern Illinois is planning to bring 50 student-athletes to campus on June 20. Football and men's and women's basketball teams will come later this month in the hopes of starting outdoor workouts June 29. UND hosts Southern Illinois in the regular-season finale Nov. 21.

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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