October 03, 2016

FARGO, N.D. (AP) North Dakota State University president Dean Bresciani did not violate state Board of Higher Education policy with the way he handled a controversial plan on media guidelines for athletics, a report by an outside investigator said Monday.

North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott called for the investigation after Bresciani quickly scrapped the guidelines involving restrictions on live broadcasting, internet streaming and social media posts following criticism by journalists and others. Bresciani said he wasn't consulted on the rules that were issued July 29 and his Aug. 2 news release rescinding them included an apology from NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen.

Attorney Kathy Perkins, of Lawrence, Kansas, was asked to evaluate whether Bresciani violated board rules on core values, authority, responsibility and conduct. Perkins said in her seven-page report that Bresciani told the truth about his lack of prior knowledge and ''his conduct did not rise to the level of a policy violation.''

Perkins added that Bresciani could have limited the controversy had he ''communicated more fully'' with Hagerott.

''If President Bresciani had made the decision to rescind the guidelines more deliberately, some of the negative media coverage and the adverse impact on athletics' ability to protect the media rights holders and corresponding lack of advertising revenue could have been avoided,'' the report said.

Athletic department officials had said the new rules were needed to secure revenue generated by the popularity of the five-time national champion football team and give the media-rights holders the access they paid for.

Higher education board chair Kathleen Neset said in a statement that the board's audit committee will review Perkins' report and make any necessary recommendations. Neset declined to be interviewed. Bresciani declined to comment.

The media guidelines flap comes after the higher education board in June voted to delay extending Bresciani's contract, saying he needs to work on teamwork, communication and collaboration. The board is slated to decide on his future next month.

The university system estimated Perkins' fee to be between $8,000 and $12,000 for the investigation.

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