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Archive for Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Snelding to leave HINU

November 21, 2001

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Graham Snelding, who guided Haskell Indian Nations University to an 0-11 record in his only season as head football coach, will leave the four-year school.

"I'm sure there'll be some happy people," Snelding said, "and there'll be some sad people."

Snelding announced last week, just days after the Fightin' Indians had been shellacked 39-6 by previously winless Southwestern Assemblies of God U. in their season finale, that he would be HINU's offensive coordinator next season and longtime aide Rich Brewer would take over as head coach.

However, Brewer declined comment and Phil Homeratha, the school's interim athletics director, hasn't returned phone calls.

Now Snelding says he'll leave to become a park ranger for his tribe the Kaw in the Ponca City, Okla., area.

"Yes, it's hard leaving because next year I think the team is going to be good," Snelding said. "I'm going to miss all the kids, too."

Snelding was a defensive back for the Indians in the mid-'90s when Haskell was still a junior college. He served as offensive line coach in 1998 and 1999 and was offensive coordinator in 2000. After head coach Gary Tanner announced midway through the 2000 season he was retiring for health reasons, Snelding was elevated to the head job.

At the time, Snelding said: "Restoring tradition and pride in Haskell football is very important to me."

Snelding envisioned a wide-open passing attack with Peter Hahn, a transfer from Florida State, at the controls, but the Indians were hit by key injuries, personnel departures and finished the season with only a few upperclassmen healthy.

"Even though we didn't do that well I think we were headed in the right direction," Snelding said. "The team's grade point average had gone up, for instance."

But the combination of injuries, inexperience and too many bus trips Haskell had only four home games led to more and more erosion in the program. It appeared Haskell, competing for only the second year as a full-fledged NAIA four-year school, was in over its head.

HINU was blanked three times and scored only one touchdown in three other games.

When Jerry Tuckwin announced his retirement as HINU's athletics director several months ago, he mentioned it was difficult for Haskell to compete at the NAIA level with its current allotment of federal funds.

Snelding agreed, saying, "The bottom line is these kids deserve a lot more than they've been given."

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