Northern football coach 'on leave'

Samson sidelined while college investigates


August 12, 2014

Montana State University-Northern head football coach Mark Samson has been placed on administrative leave with pay for undisclosed reasons.

Northern spokesman Jim Potter said this morning that the university hopes to conduct an investigation and make a decision on Samson’s future “as soon as possible.”

Potter said it was an employee issue, and he couldn’t say much about the situation.

“This is a personnel matter, which is under review at this time,” Potter said. “Until this is resolved, we can provide you with no additional information. … We hope to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.”

He confirmed that members of the football team visited Chancellor Jim Limbaugh this morning to express support for the coach and seek information on what was going on.

“We told them we just couldn’t talk about it,” Potter said.

He said the university hopes to settle the matter quickly because it is aware that there is widespread community support for the Lights.

Suspicions arose Monday when Samson, in his 11th year as Lights coach, failed to show up for practice. Assistant coaches took charge in his absence.

The Havre Daily News contacted the director of University Relations, Potter, Monday afternoon. He said nothing unusual was going on with the team.

But this morning, Potter called the Havre Daily News announcing the administrative leave.

Samson will be paid while he is on leave, Potter said.

Samson was the Frontier Conference Coach of the Year and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Region 9 Coach of the Year in 2006.

History of quietness

Despite being a publicly funded institution, Northern has been recalcitrant over several departures from the university staff over the last few years, perhaps the most prominent being its provost.

Northern Provost Rosalyn Templeton resigned last August effective in January, then left office in mid-October. Limbaugh and Potter declined to give any information about her reason for leaving or her early departure. Havre Daily News filed an Open Records Act request and was told that her work at the university was done so she left.

Later, the Havre Daily News filed a legal request to open proceedings regarding Templeton being heard by the state Human Rights Bureau, which Northern and the Montana University System opposed.

The Human Rights Bureau decided in the Havre Daily’s favor, releasing documents sexual harassment claims being investigated by the bureau. The decision on that claim still is pending.

Northern also has been tight-lipped about other departures, including director of the college’s Nursing Department Lisa O’Neil leaving the department following a review by two separate entities.

The head of the state board of nursing found problems in Northern’s program but cited no complaints about O'Neil's work. Results of a separate review by another group never was made public.

O'Neil resigned in January after spending three weeks on administrative leave, and said she could not comment. Northern also did not comment on the reason for her leaving.

(Havre Daily News staffers John Paul Schmidt, John Kelleher, George Ferguson and Tim Leeds contributed to this story.)


Reader Comments

Willy writes:

Editor, you should do an update story about the police office at the SUB at the college and the High School. You all had an awesome story 2 years ago and should do an update.

companion writes:

Hooptygirl, you obviously haven't been here long enough. You need to do your research and see how many good people have been asked to leave since the chancellor came in.

Sad4Northern writes:

Sadly, Willy is correct. In the past 2 years, all the individuals who held the positions listed were requested to leave, often before their contracts were up. They obviously had no just cause for dismissal for those that continued to be paid (to not work) .

Willy writes:

Hooptygirl you may want to check your facts. All the positions I listed were had people in them that were forced out between 12-24 months ago. All the people in positions you listed were hired in the past 12-18 months. Basically the people/positions you have listed are the replacements of those who were forced out.

hooptygirl writes:

Willy, the Dean and Assist. Dean of Students (the Assit. Dean was just hired) are still here at Northern, as well as the Housing Director (which is the Student Family Housing Manager), Student Health Nurse,IT Dir.Registrar, and Dining Director. Check your facts before commenting.

Willy writes:

Not to mention other positions that have been vacated like, IT Director, dean of studentes, registrar, dining hall director, housing director, assistant dean, student health nurse, alumni director, foundation director to name a few.


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