Dwight Pickering remembers when Haskell Indian Nations University was known for heroes, not being hapless.
Now it will be Pickering's job to recreate those glory days.
"To have a chance to come back here and make an impact in athletics is a great opportunity," said Pickering, who recently took over as athletic director at HINU.
Pickering -- who ran track and cross country for Haskell in 1970-72 -- said the Fightin' Indians could be respectable in time.
"The first thing I need to do is step back and see how everything is working," said Pickering, who spent the last five years as HINU's track and cross country coach. "I need to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses, and see what kind of impact I can make that will help our coaches and programs reach the next level."
Pickering, who has 25 years of experience coaching college and high school running sports, took over for interim athletic director Phil Homeratha, who had served as AD the past couple seasons in addition to coaching women's basketball.
The two are hardly strangers -- while Homeratha was coaching track at South Dakota, he tried to recruit Pickering out of high school.
"I know him real well because of our background together," Pickering said. "It's kind of funny it happened like that."
Despite Haskell's many obstacles -- few degree choices, little funding -- Pickering said there was one huge advantage HINU had over all other institutions.
"Being the only Native American university, we have an impact on Native Americans across the country," he said. "There's a lot of choices out there for young Native Americans to make, with quality state schools and numerous programs, but with our tradition and improvement, we can get many of those young people here."
Pickering said he wanted to honor the past by improving in the future.
"It's always hard to go back to the past," he said. "We always look at that, what a great time, what a great tradition.
"It's not impossible to get back to that point, it will just take a little time."