Kris Bakkegard
Team Makers

Team Makers: Exit Interview With Kris Bakkegard

Kris Bakkegard, the Team Makers president for the last two years, will step aside as the new membership year approaches. Check out our q&a with him.

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Photo by Hillary Ehlen

The Team Makers president for the last two years will step aside as the new membership year approaches.


Q: How did your Team Makers journey start?

A: It started right as I was getting done with school. The company I still work for today, one of the engineers I was going to be working for there was interested into getting in to buying season tickets. Post-college, a few of us got together and started getting tickets. That evolved into joining Team Makers, being a part of this organization.

Probably about 10 years ago I sat down with Pat Simmers and asked how I could get more involved, beyond just making donations. I joined a fund drive team, and just a few years later I was asked to join the Executive Committee.

Q: What are the week to week, month to month duties of the President?

A: My primary role is to run the Executive Committee. I run the meetings on a monthly basis. I also sit on all of our committees and subcommittees. We have a committee for our gaming operation, we have a committee for our long term finances and investments, we are also starting a budget and finance committee. We also have a marketing committee, I don’t necessarily run those, but I set the overall picture of where we are going. Pat pretty much runs the day to day operations.

Q: During your time as the president, where has Team Makers experienced the most growth? What is your point of pride during your time?

A: As I was coming into being the President, we were just looking at our long term growth, and outside of North Dakota. The first year that I started as the President (the goal) was to look at national growth.

I’d still say we’re in the “crawling” stage, but I think what we’ve moved the furthest with is starting to establish teams. We’ve done that in Arizona, we’re starting to do that in the Twin Cities, we’ve got a group in North Carolina. We’ve started to dot the map across the country. We’re trying to take Team Makers along with NDSU’s national exposure. Athletics has obviously gained a lot of national exposure, we’re trying to move Team Makers in that same direction. We’d like to get people to look at us like more of a national brand, not just a local Fargo-Moorhead brand or even a North Dakota Brand.

Q: How much of the success of Team Makers do you credit to the success of football, and do you need to innovate to sustaining your success even if football doesn’t win the championship every year? They say fundraising is easier when you’re winning.

A: No question that football on a large scale has helped project NDSU Athletics onto a national stage. Basketball, volleyball, softball, even wrestling, all of our sports get us there. It’s hard to argue, though, that football hasn’t moved us a long way ahead.

A large majority of our donations do come from ticket dues that are tied to sports. The largest venue we have is football, and that’s full, so that generates a large amount of our year to year revenue.

We don’t have more tickets to sell, we need to look at this more philanthropically. We need to be more of an organization that has a broader reach. That’s something we’ve been working on over the last several years, and certainly the last few years with me being in the seat of the President.

Q: What will your role look like as a Past President?

A: This first year, as the incoming president comes in, I’ll still sit on all of the committees for the first year, and then I’ll step away and our vice president will come in and sit on those committees during the second year of the next term. I’ll then step into the past president’s chair.

A lot of the duties of past presidents are just to help where needed. One of the key roles is to chair the nominating committee. Part of our legacy is replacing ourselves.

Q: How much does Team Makers take the burden off of students re: student fees?

A: You can look at that a number of different ways. When you look at a cost savings standpoint, our contributions to the athletic department represent about 25% of their budget. We play a pretty pivotal role. Our primary role is still to fund scholarships.

That does help curb the problem. It’s our mission to continue to grow. It’s our mission to continue to support even more of the athletic budget than we do today.

Q: What do you want to be the legacy of your two-year term at Team Makers?

A: Some of the things that I’m doing are a little less visible to NDSU Team Makers and just NDSU in general. We’ve really made an effort the last two years to move our board forward.

We’re looking at our board to be more strategy driven as opposed to day-today operation, and that has a lot to do with our growth. We are a much larger organization today than we were 5, 10 years ago.

We’ve continued to evolve our thinking to be a broader organization. I’d like to have someone say about me that 10 years from now the things we started today are moving the organization in the direction that we wanted to. They probably won’t even be done before I’m done with my past presidency, but I hope that those are lasting legacies.

Others before us have set the vision, we’ve benefited from finishing the SHAC, that happened in my tenure on the board, others will see some of that and the foundation will be there to keep moving us forward.

Chris Haugrud will be the new Team Makers President beginning in January 2019.

Team Makers: Exit Interview With Kris Bakkegard
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