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North Dakota hires Paul Sather, fills final Division I head coaching vacancy

Sather spent the past nine seasons in charge at Division II Northern State.

NCAA Basketball: North Dakota at Marquette
North Dakota lost 18 games last season, including a December trip to Marquette.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

For the time being, the 2019 coaching carousel has stopped spinning.

North Dakota announced Paul Sather as the Fighting Hawks’ next head coach, filling the final Division I vacancy in the country. Sather spent the last nine seasons leading his alma mater Northern State, a Division II program located in Northeastern South Dakota. The Wolves finished as the Division II runner-up two years ago, and won 162 games total over Sather’s tenure.

Prior to taking over at Northern State, Sather spent five years in charge at Black Hills State, a then-NAIA program at which he won 94 games.

The North Dakota position came open when Brian Jones left to become an assistant on Dan Muller’s staff at Illinois State following a 12-18 campaign, the program’s first in the Summit League. Jones coached the Fighting Hawks for 13 years, overseeing some major moments, including the transition to Division I in 2008 and the program’s first — and, to date, only — Division I NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017.

Sather joins the ranks of Division I coaches to have gotten their start in humbler places. Recently-minted Cleveland Cavaliers coach John Beilein is likely the most striking member of that group, but it also includes hot commodities like Chris Beard and Chris Jans.