Cover Photo by J. Alan Paul Photography
Matt Larsen’s tenure as Director of Athletics at North Dakota State University is still in its infancy. After he was awarded his new office at NDSU back in October, it has been smooth sailing for the university’s 18th athletic director. With an exciting future ahead – highlighted by the Sanford Health Athletic Complex – we caught up with Larsen for the first time since the Bison football team took home its fourth consecutive FCS championship.
We know you’ve been to Frisco before, but what really stuck out in your mind during your first trip to Frisco as A.D.?
“In years past I was able to attend as an administrator from another school and really take in all that the national championship had to offer. As the Director of Athletics at a participating school this year, the feeling was much different. This was a business trip for the Bison. There was one singular focus of the coaches, players and administrators: to win the national championship.”
The pep fest was like a rock concert. What was it like to address Bison Nation in that kind of setting?
“We are so fortunate at NDSU to have such a supportive fan base and one that is unrivaled at the FCS level. Our fans play a big part in the program’s success and are a major reason we were playing for a fourth consecutive national championship. To have the opportunity to sincerely thank them in that setting was pretty special. Bison Nation never disappoints.”
What are some characteristics you see in this football program as a whole that made this four-peat possible?
“Tradition: the Bison football tradition is strong and runs very deep. The culture of this program is like nothing I have witnessed before. The expectation of greatness extends beyond just the players and coaches; every player has a genuine respect for the history of the program and the players that have come before them.
“Excellence: there is an expectation in the football program of being excellent in everything we do. The on-field success is a direct result of excellence in practice, excellence in the weight room and excellence in preparation. Winning is not a coincidence.
“Selflessness: football is the ultimate team game. For our players, it is more about the guy next to them than it is about themselves. They don’t want to let the team down. There is not a selfish player in that locker room.”
What has been the biggest learning experience for you over the first few months as A.D.?
“The biggest learning experience for me has been getting to know all the passionate supporters, both on and off campus, and learning the history and traditions of Bison athletics. I have been very fortunate to have a great staff in place that have helped immensely with the transition and that the community has been so welcoming to both my family and me.”
How has Dean Bresciani made your life easier as the new A.D. and how does your relationship with him help the university?
“Dr. Bresciani has been unbelievably supportive during my transition and has welcomed my family and I with open arms. More importantly, he understands the significant role that an athletics program plays in the university community. He and I are both of the belief that the athletics program should support the overall mission of the University. I look forward to working closely with him in building upon the already rich tradition and success that is Bison athletics. Your job is only as good as your boss, and I am fortunate to have a great one in Dean Bresciani.
Any news or announcements from Bison athletics you’d like Bison Nation to know about?
“This March and the retirement of Lynn Dorn marks the end of an era at NDSU. Lynn has been synonymous with Bison athletics for the past 38 years in her role as Director of Women’s Athletics. You can never replace someone of Lynn’s experience and institutional knowledge. She has played a major role in the evolution of NDSU Athletics and contributed to the countless individual and team accomplishments over the years. She will be greatly missed. With her retirement, an opportunity is created to reorganize the current organizational structure and build upon the foundation that she and Gene Taylor had created. My ultimate goal is to establish an administrative structure that consistently supports the efforts of our coaches, student athletes and positions each program for continued success, both in the classroom and on the fields of competition.”