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Tom Miller / Forum Communications Co., Published August 22 2012

UND athletic director gets extension

GRAND FORKS – Since his arrival in 2008, University of North Dakota athletic director Brian Faison has navigated the school’s NCAA Division I transition, secured position in the Big Sky Conference and National Collegiate Hockey Conference and handled the delicate intricacies of the Fighting Sioux nickname controversy.

With those efforts in mind, UND announced Wednesday that Faison has signed a two-year contract extension that runs through June 2017.

Faison’s base salary is $164,000.

“Of all of the places I’ve worked – and I’ve worked at a few – this is the place I’ve enjoyed the most,” Faison said. “We’ve been able to make a significant impact along with the coaches and student-athletes. For me, every day is fun and I’m pleased to continue.”

Faison stressed his appreciation to UND President Robert Kelley, who Faison says is a strong supporter of athletics.

Kelley returned the praise.

“Brian has done an exceptional job in guiding UND Athletics to full membership in NCAA Division I, at the same time providing stability and growth for the program,” Kelley said. “I am enormously proud of our student-athletes, who excel in the classroom as well as their chosen arena. Brian continues to represent UND Athletics at the highest level.”

With the nickname controversy and NCAA transition, Faison’s five years at UND have been eventful.

“We’ve definitely had interesting challenges and issues to deal with,” Faison said. “We’ve had a great staff and that makes all of the difference. They buy into what’s important. They make those challenges easy to deal with.”

In addition to landing most of UND’s athletic programs in the Big Sky, Faison also played a leadership role in steering the men’s hockey program into the NCHC, a new league formed in part because of the onset of the Big Ten Hockey Conference.

With the Big Sky and NCHC plans in place, the Division I transition completed and much of the Fighting Sioux nickname drama in the rear-view mirror, Faison said his top priority is on UND’s ability to compete in the Big Sky.

“The No. 1 for us is to continue to grow the necessary resources to make that happen,” Faison said. “We’re fortunate with our fan support to do what we’re able to do. The endowment program and impact scholarships continue to push us forward. The challenge will be to continue to step up and have what we need to compete at the Division I level.”

Miller writes for the Grand Forks Herald