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Kupchella asks for 'classier' team spirit

UND president disappointed with behavior at football and hockey games

UND President Charles Kupchella is imploring students who attend school sporting events to display a "classier" form of team spirit.

In a full-page open letter to students appearing in Friday's Dakota Student newspaper, Kupchella commended the student body for its maturity, calling it "high caliber," but he also chided students for their behavior at UND athletic events, mainly football and hockey.

"More than once," Kupchella wrote, "I've brought groups of UND supporters -- legislators, the Command Staff from the Grand Forks Air Force Base and their spouses, etc. --to hockey games, who've been shocked at the profanity, vulgarity and lack of sportsmanship shown by some students obviously caught up in the 'moment.'"

Kupchella goes on to state in the letter titled "President Kupchella Appeals to Students Concerning Sportsmanship and Fan Behavior at Athletic Events" that he knows of a number of people, including prominent civic leaders, who don't attend UND games any longer because of the behavior.

"It's even more disappointing to observe that these obviously coordinated exhibitions of 'spirit' are directed by individuals who could put their apparent leadership skills to better use."

According to Phil Harmeson, senior associate to the UND president, there is a leaguewide directive in the North Central Conference, with which UND is affiliated for football, to come up with better ways that fans can display team spirit . Harmeson said Kupchella's letter was the president's idea and was not something that all NCC-school leaders did, but that it is a small component of the NCC directive.

"The entire conference is interested in upgrading fan behavior and one way to do this is to begin with our own house," Harmeson said of Kupchella's letter.

Harmeson said he wasn't aware of a similar initiative in the WCHA, where the hockey team competes.

New spirit

In his letter, Kupchella challenged students to come up with a new and better way of supporting UND's sports teams. He said it was an especially fitting time to look for alternative means of team spirit, because the school is entering a new era of athletics at the school with the opening of two new venues -- the Alerus Center and Engelstad Arena.

Kupchella wrote that he would like to see more people of all ages attending UND sporting events.

"A well organized, well orchestrated demonstration of school pride that is fun for all sports fans -- even those on the other side -- can add to the great atmosphere of intercollegiate athletics," Kupchella wrote. "But there's an enormous difference between behavior that encourages athletes and fans and that which embarrasses the university, hurts it reputation and even makes would-be fans stay away."

Source: Grand Forks Herald, September 22, 2001