GRAND FORKS-The University of North Dakota hopes to have a new athletic director in place by the end of December, said UND President Mark Kennedy.
Brian Faison, the school's athletic director since 2008, announced his retirement Tuesday. He will retire Dec. 31 but will serve as a special adviser to UND athletics from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2018.
The next athletic director will be UND's 15th since 1903.
"We're going to have a tough task filling those shoes," said Kennedy. "We'll begin immediately with a national search that will focus on bringing the best athletic director we can (find) that will match the skills and talent Brian has devoted to the university in the past decade."
Kennedy said UND Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas DiLorenzo will head the committee that will conduct the search for Faison's replacement.
Kennedy added a search firm will be utilized as well.
Kennedy said no one has been contacted by the university in regard to Faison's successor.
The committee, said Kennedy, will be comprised of student-athletes, coaches, faculty and community members.
But he did say there will not be a lot of coaches on the committee but they will have input in the selection process.
Speculation began immediately on the new UND athletic director, who will face increasing budget demands on the athletic department and the prospect of the school's athletic teams transitioning into the Summit League and Missouri Valley Football Conference from the Big Sky Conference.
Possible candidates include Ray Purpur, the deputy director of athletics at Stanford who grew up in Grand Forks; Josh Morton, a former UND football player and fundraiser who currently is an assistant athletic director at Michigan State; Dale Lennon, UND's winningest football coach in school history who now is the athletic director at the University of Mary; Jody Hodgson, the general manager at Ralph Engelstad Arena; and Josh Fenton, the commissioner of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference who is a former assistant athletic director at Miami of Ohio.
Another name that has surfaced is Dave St. Peter, the president of the Minnesota Twins. St. Peter, who was raised in Bismarck, is a UND graduate.