Sifting Through the Kennedy vs Engelstad Feud

Sifting Through the Kennedy vs Engelstad Feud

North Dakota

Sifting Through the Kennedy vs Engelstad Feud

There are two sides to every story.

Over the course of the last week, we’ve seen the feud between Mega Donor Kris Engelstad McGarry and University of North Dakota President Mark Kennedy unfold. In my humble opinion, this relationship has turned toxic.

Frankly, it’s turning into a mess.

Last Thursday, the Grand Forks Herald broke a story after sitting down for a 90-minute interview with Engelstad-McGarry. Since then, there’s been an airing of differences in the media (Link here). That article facilitated a response from the UND President (Link here).

Here’s the latest shoe to drop. If you haven’t heard this interview, you might want to check it. The  interview with Kris Engelstad-McGarry and Chris Berg of KVLY reveals so many interesting storylines. There are many points in this interview that are newsworthy, so I’ll just let you listen to it. It’s obvious that Engelstad-McGarry is not a fan of UND’s president. It doesn’t appear he’s all that fond of her either.

Yesterday, Rob Port from Say Anything Blog posted an article about the feud between Kennedy and Engelstad-McGarry. The post in question provided us with a pile of emails between Kennedy and Engelstad-McGarry. It’s quite an eye-opening experience.

You can view the emails between President Kelly and Engelstad that he acquired through the FOIA request. There are some interesting things to read in those emails. I recommend reading them.

Fighting Hawks Takes Center Stage

In a nutshell, there appear to be two issues emerging. First, is the branding issues and the new Fighting Hawks logo. The University wants to move away from the old logo and start a legacy with the Fighting Hawks logo. From the comments that Kennedy made in the press, it appears that he thinks REA is impeding that transition. That’s my take.

If you make your way around campus and town, you will see that the Fighting Hawks logo has been more prevalent. That said, there are some fans that will never get behind the new logo.

IMHO, the rollout of the Fighting Hawks logo was an utter disaster. Moreover, I believe that resistance to the Fighting Hawks logo was to be expected.  With those points in mind, I believe that the University would like to sell some more memorabilia. Again, this is my take on everything I’ve read.

From the May 10th Grand Forks Herald article, this quote from Kennedy caught my attention and has been an item for discussion since UND adopted the Fighting Hawks nickname. It’s now coming to a head.

“I feel as we got drug in, we got blamed for causing brand confusion,” she said. “But the fact is we didn’t change, the building stayed the same. … Everything around us changed. We can only do what we can do in our space to be in accordance to the NCAA. We are going to obey the law and do what we have to do to have games and make revenue. We can’t dig our heels in, but this whole revolution and change had a momentum of its own. It didn’t have anything to do with us. We’re there and somehow through the course of this, we become the nemesis of students, faculty and the sporting world.”

In another email from April 25th, President Kennedy said this.

“Today we stand at a pivot point,” Kennedy wrote. “Will the Engelstad legacy embrace all those passionate about raising high the banner of UND, or only those bearing a Sioux logo? Will it be a legacy of inclusion or exclusion? The inclusive spirit welcomes those who cheer Let’s Go Sioux and those who cheer Let’s Go Hawks — some in hockey, but most in every other sport.

“Will the Engelstad legacy embrace all UND fans, or will it fuel a generational divide? More and more of today’s UND players and students are proud to be Hawks. Do today’s students not have every right to be as proud of who they are, compared to earlier UND students who also harbor the pride engendered during their time at the university? Should the Engelstad legacy turn aside Hawks fans?”

The second issue, UND has budget issues, due to the overspending of the past administration, and the decreased funding from the state due to decreased oil revenue. It appears that President Kennedy is trying to get a better deal from the Engelstad Foundation. Flashpoint number two. Somewhere between these two people lies the truth.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Moving forward, UND doesn’t want to upset a wealthy donor that has given UND a beautiful gift. UND also doesn’t want to give up its sole, either. We need to find a balance. It would be easy to make either party the villain.

Again, referring back to the Grand Forks Herald article in question.

“(Kennedy) refused to have a meeting with me,” she said to the Herald on May 9. “I said let’s meet anytime in April or May, I’m open — he said, ‘I’m not — not available.’”

Emails show a Kennedy assistant offering meeting dates April 12-13, 19-24 and May 1.

It’s easy it sit and attack either side. Personally, I enjoy both the REA and the Betty. This is a world-class facility. I believe we’re spoiled at UND, some might take things for granted. I don’t think UND could have half the success it had without these facilities. In other words, don’t look a gifted horse in the mouth.

Finally, I also recommend that someone from the North Dakota University System contact Kris Engelstad-McGarry, to date no one from that office has made contact with them.

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