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North Dakota State Seeks to End 'Dance Team Drama'

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Copyright 2013 The Bismarck Tribune, a division of Lee Enterprises
All Rights Reserved

The Bismarck Tribune
October 30, 2013 Wednesday
DAKOTA WIRE; Pg. 1B
491 words
'Dance team drama': NDSU, student group at odds

FARGO (AP) - North Dakota State University officials say they plan to meet with the school's Bison Dance Team to iron out details that would allow the now-barred squad to again perform at events.

The team was banned in August from appearing at athletic contests after school officials said in emails that members violated numerous athletic department policies.

"I believe we would both agree the relationship between the dance team and the athletic department has been tension-filled since your organization's decision to separate from athletics and register as a student organization years ago," Justin Swanson, NDSU's director of marketing and promotions, said in an August email to team coach Meghan Wabner.

The dance team, which has 18 women, is considered a student organization or club. It was part of the cheer team until about six years ago, when it formed its own entity as a means to focus on dance and compete against other schools, Wabner said. The team won back-to-back national championships in 2012 and 2013. School spokesman Steve Winfrey said the team has met with the Congress of Student Organizations to organize its policies.

"It seems like they are almost done with that, and as soon as we can get that done I am hoping we can set a meeting with athletics and get them back on the field sooner rather than later," Winfrey said.

The controversy prompted NDSU President Dean Bresciani to write an email to administrators saying that it was not an issue he should have to deal with. That came after a dance team parent called.

In an email, Bresciani told NDSU Athletic Director Gene Taylor and Vice President of Student Affairs Prakash Matthew that the team "and the parents are on the warpath ... again." The subject line of the email was "Dance Team Drama."

"Either they are in an athletics activity, or a student organization activity; I'm hoping you guys can draw straws (play Russian roulette?) and decide who gets them," Bresciani wrote.

Taylor said in an Aug. 29 email that the athletic department is "not interested in visiting with the dance team members, their parents or their leadership at this time or in the near future." He added that not "one fan noticed or commented" about the absence of the dance team from playoff football games last fall. Swanson cited in his email to Wabner instances where the dance team held practices or events at the Bison Sports Arena without permission from the athletic department.

"Most notable was a complete disregard for our facilities, staff, and policies when you hosted a dance team send-off at the Bison Sports Arena on January 15, 2013," Swanson wrote.

"Neither the athletic department nor facilities management was asked permission to host the event or even notified. Only after seeing photos of the event on your team-sponsored Facebook page were we aware of the use of our facility."

Wabner told the newspaper any wrongdoing wasn't intentional and cited miscommunication as a factor.

October 31, 2013

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