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Published April 16, 2010, 10:19 PM

NDSU Athletic Director Defends Football Coach

By: Jeff Kolpack, AP

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota State athletic director Gene Taylor says he is "very comfortable" with the rules head football coach Craig Bohl has in place. The comment came a day after Bohl kicked two players off the team.

Garrett Johnson and Greg Reid were dismissed from the team Wednesday after being charged with felonies in an alleged 12-person, inside-job theft ring at Fargo's Best Buy. It brings the number of dismissals on the Bison football team to six in the last 12 months.

"I don't know what more Craig can do," Taylor said. "If I were getting any resistance from Craig like, 'I really want to keep these kids' or 'Let's give them another chance' or 'Gene, everything is fine,' then I would be concerned.

"He doesn't react that way," Taylor said. "He immediately comes to me and says these guys are going to be dismissed until I find out what the heck is going on. He works very cooperatively with the police. If he was resistant in trying to protect his players, that to me sends a different message. He's not doing things that would raise a red flag with me."

The string of dismissals began in April 2009 when backup quarterback Troy Jackson was kicked off the team for a marijuana possession charge. Wide receiver Jordan Schultenover was dismissed last May for possession of marijuana and intent to distribute.

Wide receiver Sidney Haynes was dismissed for violating team rules that were never specified. And linebacker Blake Sczepanski was suspended indefinitely last July for driving under the influence.

Johnson, a starting defensive end, also was suspended last fall for two games after being arrested for DUI.

Taylor said the ever-changing environment of the recruiting process is making it harder for coaches to evaluate recruits.

He said with recruits committing to a college as early as their high school junior years, it shortens the time for coaches to get to know them. He said if coaches wait on recruits, other schools are going to sign them.

"If you're not staying up with the Joneses, then you are losing kids," Taylor said. "Back five, six, seven years ago, you weren't getting commitments many times until late in their senior year. You had their junior year to get to know them and you had most of the fall of their senior year to see them."

Taylor said he and his coaches will continue to educate their athletes about their off-the-field habits.

"They need to understand that they are held to a much higher standard than they even maybe realize," he said. "We need to keep pounding that message. Is it going to fix it? Absolutely not. People are going to make decisions when you have 350 student-athletes and some are going to get into trouble."

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Information from: The Forum, http://www.in-forum.com

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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