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NDSU keeping eye on Bohl, Wyoming in recruiting

Now that they’re on opposite sides of the recruiting trail, the North Dakota State athletic department appears to be keeping a close eye on former Bison head football coach Craig Bohl.

At issue: If Bohl or any member of his new staff at the University of Wyoming makes contact with a player who has already given NDSU a verbal commitment. Gene Taylor said he and Bohl made an agreement shortly after Bohl took the Wyoming job in early December that he would not contact any NDSU commitments.

“Craig and I talked specifically about committed kids,” Taylor said. “He agreed they would draw the line and stay away from committed kids.”

Bohl’s NDSU contract actually goes farther, saying any Wyoming coach would not be allowed to contact a high school athlete who was previously “contacted or recruited” by NDSU.

Specifically, the stipulation reads:

“Coach shall not for a period of one (1) year after such termination by Coach contract or otherwise seek to recruit any high school athlete previously contacted or recruited by NDSU, unless (i) such athlete has been recruited or contacted by the Coach’s new employing institution prior to the notice of termination by Coach to NDSU or (ii) such recruit initiates the request to be recruited by Coach at Coach’s new employing institution.”

Taylor said he and Bohl agreed it would be hard to manage some of the language in the contract. For instance, what’s to stop a high school player from contacting Wyoming?

“So we knew we needed a clear black-and-white line,” Taylor said.

In other words, players who have scholarship offers or were contacted by NDSU before Bohl got the Wyoming job are fair game despite the apparent intention of the contract. But all verbal commitments are off the table.

Taylor said he and Bohl talked a second time on the recruiting stipulation after NDSU assistant Chris Klieman was on Dec. 15 tabbed to take over the program at the conclusion of the season.

“We sat down when rumors were out there,” Taylor said. “We said again the committed kid is one thing we can clearly identify.”

Even if Bohl violated his NDSU contract, it’s unclear if there would be any recourse for the school. Bohl’s contract has no section that specifically states any remedies for violations.

Taylor said he would need to go to the university attorney to get an answer.

“The only thing we would look to do would be to withhold bonuses,” he said. “I’m not an attorney, so I would have to talk to some folks.”

Bohl earned $40,000 in bonuses with $15,000 for a Division I FCS national title, $15,000 for NDSU hosting three playoff games and $10,000 for a Missouri Valley Football Conference title.

There is no confirmed report that a Bison verbal commitment has been contacted by Wyoming. Taylor said he hasn’t heard of any, but he said, “If true, I would really be disappointed based on my conversation with Craig. I’m not going to do anything until there is some sort of confirmation.”

Asked if it was ethical based on the contract for Wyoming to even contact high school players who have NDSU offers – but have yet to commit – Taylor said, “I don’t know. If two people make an agreement and both agree on it, and we’ve clearly agreed on it, that would be a question for somebody else to answer.”

Klieman said this week NDSU has between 13 and 17 verbal commitments. There are currently 15 reported verbals. Signing day is Feb. 5, the first day athletes can make it official.

Taylor said any violation of the Bohl contract would not be an NCAA infraction.

“It’s never a violation until the kid has signed a letter of intent,” he said. “It’s just more of an understanding in the world of college football. Once a kid is committed, people do it, and it frustrates every coach across the country. If they verbally commit, it should send a message to say, ‘Hey, start backing off.’”

Jeff Kolpack
Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.