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SDSU football coach arrested for DUI, has upcoming court date

South Dakota State Jackrabbits head coach John Stiegelmeier, left, talks with TCU Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson before a 2016 NCAA football game at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. Jim Cowsert / USA TODAY Sports

BROOKINGS, S.D.—South Dakota State football coach John Stiegelmeier, who finished his 21st campaign with the Jackrabbits, faces a March 6 court appearance following his arrest for DUI in late January.

The 61-year-old coach was arrested Saturday, Jan. 27, after his vehicle was stuck in a ditch and discovered by Brookings police at 11:30 p.m.

Stiegelmeier told police he was at home before going out for food. According to the Brookings Register, Stiegelmeier said he hadn't eaten all day, was at home doing taxes and had some wine before he went out without thinking about how much he had to drink.

"First and foremost, I made a terrible mistake," Stiegelmeier told the Brookings newspaper. "The decision I made is not who I have been, who I am or who I will be moving forward."

The winningest coach in SDSU history, Stiegelmeier has compiled a 148-97 record and led the Jacks to their first NCAA Football Championship Subdivision semifinals this past season.

Stiegelmeier told the team about his arrest Thursday morning, March 1, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported.

"It's been a hard day but a growing day," Stiegelmeier told the Argus Leader. "Growth comes through difficult times. I'm going to be stronger because of this. I have to be. ... (Addressing the team) was tough. Really tough. But I was greeted with more positives than I thought I would be, honestly."

SDSU President Barry Dunn said Stiegelmeier contacted him following his arrest and the two met the next day.

"I expressed my disappointment during that meeting and John takes full responsibility for his actions. He understands the magnitude of what happened, the potential impact it could have had and the disappointment this brings to himself and the university as a leader of young people," Dunn said in a statement emailed to Forum News Service.

"Coach Stiegelmeier has been a valued member of the university and community for many years and we welcome his continued service as our head football coach. He will use this experience to educate others and inspire many more young men in his role as head coach about making the right decisions in life," Dunn's statement said.

SDSU athletic director Justin Sell also issued a statement.

"This certainly is an incident that does not reflect the values of our program and is out of character for coach Stiegelmeier," Sell said. "He has led our football program with integrity and class throughout his career, and I know he will use this incident as a teachable moment for the numerous young men he has mentored. I am fully behind him as he goes through this difficult time."

The Jackrabbits finished with an 11-3 record in 2017 and lost to top-ranked James Madison 51-16 in the FCS semifinals.

Rob Beer
Rob Beer is manager of Forum News Service in Fargo. The Princeton, Minn., native and a 1993 Minnesota State University Moorhead graduate began working at The Forum in 1991. He is a former graphic artist, assistant sports editor, presentation and online editor at The Forum. He previously worked at the New Ulm (Minn.) Journal and the Huron (S.D.) Plainsman.
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