GRAND FORKS, N.D. – A pioneer of University of North Dakota Athletics will be posthumously honored on Saturday at UND’s Big Sky Conference football game against Montana State at Alerus Center.
Leland “Lee” K. Bohnet (1923-99), who served as UND’s first sports information director from 1953 until his retirement in 1988, will have the Alerus Center’s football press box dedicated in his name at a ceremony on Saturday morning with friends, family and former colleagues in attendance. Bohnet and his family will also be recognized on the field at halftime.
Born and raised in Kulm, N.D., Bohnet served in the U.S. Navy during World War II aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Wilkes. He enrolled at UND in 1946 and received a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1951. Upon graduation, Bohnet became a sports writer for the Fargo Forum and later the editor of the Hillsboro Banner. In 1953, Bohnet was hired part-time as UND’s first sports information director and was named full-time SID five years later, a position he held until his retirement in 1988.
Bohnet was responsible for publicizing the achievements of UND’s student-athletes and coaches for four decades, including the University’s first five NCAA championships, and was one of the co-creators of the annual Potato Bowl USA football game. He was a 1974 inductee in to the North Central Conference Hall of Fame, a 1977 inductee into the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame, and a 1981 inductee into the UND Athletics Hall of Fame.
In 1976, Bohnet was the recipient of UND’s Honorary Letterwinner Award, and in 1987 he received CoSIDA’s Warren Berg Award as the nation’s top college sports information director. He published the history book “A Century of UND Sports: An Athletics History of the University of North Dakota” in 1994.
Bohnet passed away on Aug. 8, 1999, in Grand Forks.