Luther reflects on a legacy of leadership

By Dan Fagan
University Communications

MINOT, N.D. – In a career spanning an All-American season on the gridiron to leading the Minot State Athletic Department into a new era, Professor Emeritus Wes Luther never stopped making an impact.

Luther, a native of Rugby, was a three-sport student-athlete at Minot State earning spots on the football, basketball, and track & field teams.

Luther was a star running back for the football team in his 1947 inaugural season led by coach Herb Parker. Luther was an all-conference selection in all four seasons and earned All-American honors after a storied freshman season in which he was the nation’s third leading scorer. He was the first Beaver student-athlete to earn the All-American designation.

“I had teammates who had returned from serving in World War II,” Luther recalled of the 1947 football team. “I was fresh out of high school but they had already lived a lifetime. It was a very good team we had.”

After graduating with a degree in physical education, Luther taught and coached at various North Dakota high schools before returning to Minot State to coach track & field in 1966. Two years later, he was chosen to head the basketball team.

In a span of seven seasons, Luther coached his basketball teams to four North Dakota College Athletic Conference championships. In 1972, his team won the NAIA district playoff and advanced to the national tournament.

Luther’s consistent success as a coach led to blossoming opportunities, first as registrar in 1975, then as athletic director a year later. Luther was following in the footsteps of his former football coach and mentor, Herb Parker, who served as athletic director for 15 years.Wes LutherFrom 1976 to 1991, Luther oversaw the athletics program as it ushered in a new era of equality in college athletics. The passage of federal law — Title IX — guaranteed equitable sports opportunities for women and men college athletes.

Women’s sports became an integral part of Minot State athletics under Luther’s watch, something he considers a highlight of his tenure.

“It was nice to see that happen and to be a part of it,” Luther said. “We had some outstanding women’s teams, especially gymnastics.”

Luther also spent significant time and energy fostering ample fundraising opportunities for the athletics program. His most notable contribution was the creation and development of Beaver Boosters, a scholarship network for student-athletes.

In 1987, Luther was named Athletic Director of the Year in District 12.

In 2010, nearly two decades after his retirement, Luther received the Golden Award, the highest award bestowed by the Minot State Alumni Association recognizing outstanding service and leadership. 

With so many achievements under his belt, Luther, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday on July 3, doesn’t revel in his success. Rather, he is humbled by his journey. His advice for anyone is to find a philosophy that works and to stick to it.

Finally, when reflecting on his legacy at Minot State, he is a man of few words.

“It was an honor,” he said.

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 07/25/19   

» More MSU News