On Dec. 31, 2017, Brian Faison retired as the athletic director at the University of North Dakota after spending 40-plus years in college athletics at five different institutions.
After a one-year retirement, Faison has returned to college athletics as the Deputy Director of Athletics at the University of Maine.
He is replacing Lynn Coutts, who left to take a similar position at the University of Denver.
The appointment was effective Sept. 1, according to UMaine athletic director Ken Ralph.
The 69-year-old Faison said retirement didn’t sit well with him, and he is excited to be back in college athletics.
“I was incredibly bored,” Faison said. “I miss the energy you have on a college campus and within an athletic department.
“I had been doing some consulting, but it isn’t the same as being on a campus. Ken gave me a call about the possibility of coming up and doing some things to help the program and everything seemed to mesh together.”
Faison and Ralph developed a strong relationship when they were rival athletic directors in the Western College Hockey Association at North Dakota and Colorado College, respectively.
They were two of the key components in the formation of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference after WCHA members Minnesota and Wisconsin left to join the new Big Ten hockey conference.
“Ken and I hit it off. I have great respect for Ken. We certainly battled some things together. When Wisconsin and Minnesota left for the Big Ten, he and I had the same thought and we went with it. That [NCHC] project worked out pretty well.”
Faison, who also worked at Indiana State, New Mexico State, Louisville and the University of Missouri, said he knows UMaine has its financial issues like a lot of institutions but he is looking forward to doing what he can to improve the situation. Facility upgrades are another priority.
“It’s going to be a challenge. Finances are obviously the big issue. How can we generate the revenue we need to support our programs? We have to decide on what makes the most sense and develop a plan of action.
“But I feel there is potential to do some great things here. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it can happen quickly,” he said.
North Dakota and UMaine certainly have some similarities like their remote locations, he said.
“There is an advantage to being in that situation. The athletes tend to have a chip on their shoulders,” Faison said.
Both schools are also excellent academic institutions, he noted.
In addition, the two institutions “do everything they can so our players can develop their skills in order to move on to the next level.”
Faison, a 1972 graduate of Missouri, said another positive about coming to UMaine for his first job in the northeast is he and his wife, Donna, can spend more time with their son, Bradley, who works at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut. They have two other sons and two grandsons.
Faison’s 40 years of collegiate athletics experience include direct expertise in fundraising, marketing, media relations and administration.
He spent 10 years as the director of athletics at the University of North Dakota after a five-year stint as AD at New Mexico State and a seven-year appointment as Director of Athletics at Indiana State University from 1988-95.
Faison was the 2016-17 Under Armour Football Championship Subdivision Athletic Director of the Year.
“To attract a professional with Brian’s experience and skill set is a huge win for UMaine Athletics,” Ralph said in a news release. “Brian will be a great mentor for our staff while also bringing important perspectives to the table regarding finances, facilities and game experience.”
While at UND, Faison successfully completed the department’s five-year transition from Division II to Division I.
“Brian will have sport supervision responsibilities, oversight of select administrative units in athletics, serve as a liaison to campus constituents, and will assist in facilitating cooperation between internal units,” Ralph said. “His experience and knowledge base will allow him to be immediately effective in all of these responsibilities.”