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UND offensive coordinator Danny Freund leaving to join national champion South Dakota State

Jan. 9—GRAND FORKS — UND head football coach Bubba Schweigert will need a new play-caller next season.

Fighting Hawks offensive coordinator Danny Freund, who has been on the coaching staff for the past 13 seasons, is leaving Grand Forks to join the offensive staff at two-time defending national champion South Dakota State.

"Today, coach Freund informed me that he'll be stepping away from UND football to accept another position," Schweigert said. "We're immediately moving forward to name the next offensive coordinator and excited for that person to help us keep moving UND football forward."

SDSU offensive coordinator Zach Lujan has been reported to be leaving Brookings to join the staff at Northwestern.

After learning of Freund's potential departure, UND put together an offer to entice the coach to stay in Grand Forks but Freund ultimately elected to move within the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

Freund, known for his infectious energy and creative play-calling, has been the offensive coordinator at UND for the past five seasons.

"Really, really hard decision personally but professionally — and for my family — I thought it was the right move at the right time," Freund said.

Before Schweigert tagged Freund to replace Paul Rudolph as UND offensive coordinator following the 2018 season, Freund was a position coach for UND wide receivers (2014-18), quarterbacks (2013) and running backs (2011-12).

Freund was elevated to associate head coach status prior to last season.

Across Freund's five seasons as UND's offensive coordinator, the Hawks have made the FCS playoffs four times.

UND's remaining position coaches on offense (tight ends/special teams coach Shawn Kostich, offensive line coach Joe Pawlak, wide receivers coach Sam King and running backs coach Donnell Kirkwood) don't have prior coordinator experience.

In 2023, UND's offense ranked fifth in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in points per game with 31.4 — the second-consecutive season UND's offense averaged more than 30.0 points per game.

As a player, Freund was 16-6 as a two-year starter for the then-Fighting Sioux, finishing his career as the program's most accurate passer (68.9 percent). He threw for 5,239 yards and 47 touchdowns.

Freund returned to Grand Forks after spending the 2010 season as the quarterbacks coach at Carthage College in his hometown of Kenosha, Wis.

Freund has had success as a play-caller against the Jackrabbits.

UND beat SDSU in Grand Forks in the 2021 spring 28-17, then lost 24-21 in Brookings the next fall. In 2022, UND lost to SDSU 49-35 at the Alerus Center in a game UND led 21-7 late in the second quarter. In 2023, SDSU beat UND 41-21 and the 21 points were tied with Illinois State for the most scored in a single game against SDSU in 2023.

The 2024 season will be a year of change for the UND football program.

Quarterback Tommy Schuster, who has been the starting quarterback at UND for more than four seasons, entered the transfer portal this offseason and has since committed to Michigan State.

UND has also parted ways with veteran strength and conditioning coach Nate Baukol. The school has yet to announce his replacement.

The Hawks begin spring ball in late February ahead of the 2024 season, a year in which UND will play three of the four national semifinalists from 2023 (Montana, South Dakota State and North Dakota State).