GRAND FORKS, N.D. (UND Athletics) -- University of North Dakota Director of Athletics Bill Chaves announced the hiring of Paul Sather Thursday to fill the head men's basketball post. Sather comes to UND following a very successful stint at Northern State (Aberdeen, S.D.) where he was back-to-back conference coach of the year, leading the Wolves to the NCAA Division II championship game two seasons ago.
Armed with a collegiate coaching résumé that includes 22 years— including 20 at South Dakota schools— Sather has built a pair of national-contending basketball teams at his two head coaching stops. Prior to that, he was a six-year assistant at NSU, his alma mater, under legendary head coach Don Meyer before later embarking on a 14-year head coaching course that features a 288-151 (.651) record.
“What a great day for the University of North Dakota and North Dakota Men’s Basketball,” Chaves said. “Any hire is about getting the right fit at the right time and I have no doubt that Coach Sather is exactly the right person to lead our program today and into the future. Paul’s success as a head coach at two institutions including his alma mater has been remarkable and I believe that experience will serve us tremendously well as he embarks on his tenure at UND. We look forward to having Paul, Kelsie, Sam and Becca join our family and the Grand Forks community.”
This past season, the Wolves were the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament champions, finishing the league schedule with an 18-4 record, part of a 30-6 league mark in the past two seasons. Sather's team led the NSIC in scoring defense, scoring margin, 3-point field goal percentage defense, and assists. In addition, NSU sat sixth nationally in 3-point field goal percentage.
A year prior, an early 18-game winning streak propelled the Wolves to a program-record 36 wins and all the way within a missed buzzer-beater of an NCAA Division II championship. He was named both the NSIC and NABC Central Region Coach of the year. His team was again among the elite in the country in a myriad of statistical categories, finishing in the top 20 in scoring defense (66.1) and rebounding margin (+7.8), in the top 10 in scoring margin (+14.1) and in the top five schools in field goal percentage (51.2).
“What an incredible honor to become the next men's basketball coach at the University of North Dakota,” Sather said. “Growing up in Minnesota and competing as a player and coach in the Dakotas for over 20 years has made me very familiar with UND Basketball and the strong history and tradition of winning championships. It's the state’s flagship university with tremendous academic programs, beautiful athletic facilities, and most importantly, a passionate community that supports UND basketball. I'd like to thank Bill Chaves for believing in my vision and investing in the men's basketball program and I can't wait to work with the players and start our pursuit of building Fighting Hawk Basketball into champions again.”
Sather launched his head coaching career at Black Hills State (Spearfish, S.D.) in 2005. In five years there, Sather was instrumental in turning the BHSU program around from a 10-19 season in 2006-07 to an NAIA Final Four contender in 2008-09. The Yellow Jackets also qualified for the national tournament in 2009-10 and compiled an overall conference record of 46-25 in the five years under Sather, including winning two Dakota Athletic Conference championships.
As an assistant at Northern State, his teams recorded three league titles, a pair of NCAA Tournament bids with 10-league players, two of whom would also be named All-America. He then spent a year as an assistant at the University of Colorado.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in secondary education in 1996 from Northern State, he served as physical education teacher and assistant boys’ basketball coach at Sidney High School in Nebraska from 1996-1997. The following year he was a graduate assistant at Wayne State College while he earned his master’s degree in sports administration.
Originally from Princeton, Minn., Sather had a stellar career collegiate career as a Wolf from 1990-1994. He was team captain for NSU when it earned back-to-back NAIA national runner-up finishes in 1993 and 1994.
Sather's family includes his wife, Kelsie, and their two children, Sam and Becca.