NDSU's Lynn Dorn barred without pay

FARGO, N.D. -- North Dakota State announced Wednesday that its longtime women's athletic director has been suspended for an episode in February that involved a student at the school.

Athletic director Gene Taylor said women's athletic director Lynn Dorn was suspended for two weeks without pay for a series of incidents that happened on Feb. 23. She was suspended March 27.

Dorn, 62, has been at the school for 34 years. The Bison women's teams have won seven national championships and 81 conference titles during her tenure as athletic director. Her salary is $140,585.

Taylor said in a March 26 letter of reprimand to Dorn that she was being suspended because of "significant inappropriate professional behavior." Taylor wrote there are potential violations of NDSU guidelines, and cited the school's anti-harassment policy.

Taylor would not comment on whether the offense was physical, verbal or sexual in nature, but said it wasn't a racial incident. There's no pattern of bad behavior, the athletic director said.

"I think she feels terrible," Taylor said. "She certainly apologized to me, she apologized to staff members. She took full responsibility for it."

Dorn issued a statement saying she had made a mistake.

"I made an error and regret it deeply," she said. "I respect the university's decision. It is a privilege to work at North Dakota State University, and in particular, within the athletics department. I take this privilege very seriously."

Taylor said he could not give specifics because of federal privacy laws and school policy, but said the incident happened within "the parameters of her job." Two staff members came forward with the complaint, Taylor said.

"We talked a great deal about it between Feb. 23 and March 20," he said, referring to Dorn, "and then ultimately made my decision to suspend her shortly after that."

Taylor said there were no plans to make the matter public, citing Dorn's lengthy career at the school and the fact it was a personnel matter. It was first reported by WDAY-TV in Fargo.

"There wasn't anything to hide," Taylor said. "We knew certainly that if it got out we would be willing to respond and provide the information we could provide, and that's where we are today."

Taylor said Dorn was not asked to resign and will be welcomed back when she returns from suspension. Taylor said he told his coaches not to talk publicly about it.

"To avoid the appearance of retaliation of any kind, do not discuss the incident with the employees or the student involved in the incidents," he wrote to Dorn. "Please be advised that any further action of this kind will result in further disciplinary action, including possible termination."

Dorn waived her right to appeal by signing the memorandum, Taylor said.