Before leaving, Lake Region State College athletic director faced multiple misconduct allegations – Grand Forks Herald


DEVILS LAKE – The former Lake Region State College athletic director faced numerous allegations of violations of the college’s codes of conduct and ethics before agreeing to step down last month.

Many misconduct allegations against Daniel Mertens, who was also the women’s basketball coach, involve alcohol, while others involve behavior that made a parent question whether he understood his professional boundaries. . No conclusions were drawn in this investigation because Mertens and the school administrators signed a mutual separation agreement. After Mertens left college on December 17, the investigation was dismissed.

Mertens was initially put on paid leave on October 29, so that school administrators could investigate the allegations. The Herald obtained the LRSC’s investigative documents through state open case laws.

These documents show that on October 29, Lloyd Halvorson, vice president of academic and student affairs, emailed LRSC president Doug Darling, advising Darling of the need to put Mertens on leave. Also in that email, Halvorson urged Darling to consider buying out Mertens’ contract. Halvorson wrote that he believed the number of allegations against Mertens would damage his reputation to the point that he could not uphold the standard of conduct he had always been accused of violating, if cleared in a survey.

“I really don’t believe, based on what I know of the totality of the allegations, (redacted by LRSC) that LRSC and LRSC Athletics can come out of this with enough credibility and confidence to move forward without change. ‘coach and leadership. Halvorson wrote.

Eventually, Mertens requested a separation agreement before the investigation was concluded. Darling agreed and he asked the UND-based college human resources attorney to prepare the deal.

Under the deal, Mertens will be paid just over $ 43,000 for the remainder of his contract, which runs through June 30. Payment also includes unused annual leave days. Mertens’ salary was $ 62,295.

No allegations of misconduct against Mertens were substantiated, as their investigation was cut short when he agreed to leave the college.

A total of 19 allegations were recorded by the school during the investigation. Four of those allegations were fully redacted in documents sent to the Herald. The allegations were made by team members, parents and / or former assistant coaches, and include:

  • Drink alcohol with other LRSC coaches when traveling to away games. According to LRSC investigative documents, “several players” said the team and the coaches ate together, then the coaches would leave to drink and not watch the team. The players said the team are still staying at a hotel connected to a bar.
  • Mertens coming to training and matches smelling of alcohol.
  • Supplying alcohol to a player who subsequently got intoxicated and telling a player that she could drink alcohol and that he would not tell anyone about it.
  • Sitting in a hot tub with players. A parent reported that Mertens may not understand professional boundaries.
  • Require a player to wash the shirts at home. The player said she was uncomfortable with the arrangement.

Other complaints against Mertens include allowing the assistant coach to practice, quickly getting angry with the players and putting the players on the bench for disagreeing with him or doing this. he says outside of basketball.
Again, the allegations are unfounded as Mertens chose to leave before they were fully investigated.

Mertens was made aware of the allegations and signed a document acknowledging that he understood an investigation was taking place in late November.

At that point, he met Halvorson and said he would like to fight the allegations, but that even if it turned out that he had not violated any university policies, his reputation and that of the school would be “tarnished”. Mertens told Halvorson that despite the investigation, he loves LRSC and wants the best for the college.


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