UND hires Faison as athletic directorGRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota is entering uncharted waters in the fall as its athletic department will make the move to NCAA Division I competition.
By: Wayne Nelson, The Dickinson Press
GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota is entering uncharted waters in the fall as its athletic department will make the move to NCAA Division I competition.
As an athletic administrator, Brian Faison has sailed in Division I waters for decades.
His experience as an athletic department administrator – one who is said to be well versed on NCAA rules and has shown an ability to raise funds at a handful of Division I institutions – made Faison a solid candidate for UND’s next athletic director.
UND couldn’t pass up that experience and named Faison as the school’s athletic director Thursday.
Faison takes over a department that has not had a full-time AD since Tom Buning resigned under pressure in November, and one that must raise more funds and make tougher decisions in its move to Division I.
Faison is expected to start his new duties May 1.
He said he can’t wait to start.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Faison said Thursday night en route to Grand Forks. “UND has had such a strong tradition of winning over so many years. It’s a really strong program to take to the next level.”
But there are pressing issues that first need to be addressed. The first, he said, is the department’s staffing.
“We have to address staff issues in the department right away,” Faison said. “We have several vacancies, some more critical than others. We have to hire a compliance director. That’s a critical position now that we’re making the transition to Division I.”
During his first days at UND, Faison also said he hopes to meet with the department’s coaches.
“I want to get up to speed as quickly as I can with the coaches to get to know them and see where they’re at as far as scheduling goes for next season.
“This coming year will be the toughest year across the board in terms of scheduling.”
Faison has more than 30 years of experience in athletic administration, fundraising, marketing and media relations. For the past 10 months, he has served as the special assistant to the president and major gifts officer at New Mexico State.
He was the athletic director at New Mexico State from 1999 through 2004 and also was the athletic director at Indiana State from 1988 through 1995. He also worked as an assistant athletic director at the University of Louisville and Illinois State.
In his role as New Mexico State’s chief fundraiser, Faison successfully lobbied the state legislature and secured $21.85 million in capital funding for New Mexico State athletic renovations and additions. He also helped secure a $3 million gift to New Mexico State athletics – the largest in the history of the school’s athletic program.
One of UND’s major challenges in its move to Division I will be new facilities and upgraded facilities.
“UND has some outstanding facilities, and at the same time there are some facility issues,” Faison said.
Another major challenge will be finding a conference for most of UND’s athletic programs. As UND moves to Division I, it will be making the move largely as an independent.
Securing conference affiliation will be one of the major goals of the UND athletic department under Faison.
Faison has been part of New Mexico State’s athletic transformation in recent years. Under Faison, the Aggies went from the Big West Conference to the Sun Belt Conference to the Western Athletic Conference.
The WAC isn’t one of the six BCS leagues, but it does include Boise State, Hawaii and Fresno State – schools that have fielded nationally prominent football programs in recent seasons.
Faison is well aware of UND’s nationally prominent sport.
“You have one of the elite men’s hockey programs in the country,” Faison said.
Faison will be introduced at a news conference this morning in Twamley Hall. He’s also scheduled to meet the public before UND’s annual Green and White spring football game scheduled for noon Saturday in the Alerus Center. The event will be from 11:15-11:45 a.m. in the Alerus Center concourse.
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