The athletic department recently narrowed a field of 12 candidates down to three, but Nielsen, the current athletic director at the University of South Dakota, is expected to be introduced in Room 204 of the Student Center.
Nielsen has been at South Dakota since 2003, and he will take over for current athletic director Laing Kennedy, who will retire June 30.
“We want to build on what Laing’s built in the last 16 years because they’ve done some great things here — championship teams and champions in the classroom,” Nielsen said. “But we also want to look into the future, and look at the things that maybe we aren’t doing so well; identify those and build those up.”
The athletic department hosted a meet and greet today in the Schwebel Garden Room with Nielsen and Kent State coaches and administration.
The other two finalists, Tennessee Tech athletic director Mark Wilson and North Dakota State athletic director Gene Taylor, were not present at the meet and greet.
South Dakota’s men’s basketball team went 22-10 this year with an 11-1 record in the NCAA Division I-AA Great West Conference. The football team finished with a record of 5-5 last season.
In 2007, Nielsen secured the Coyotes’ football team a spot in the Great West Conference. All South Dakota sports teams except football will join the Summit League.
Before his time as the director of athletics at South Dakota, Nielsen was the athletic director at Colorado College. He also served as the associate athletic director at Wake Forest from 1993 to 2001.
“He’s got great background,” said Herb Page, Kent State men’s golf coach and member of the search committee. “I don’t think it’s about (the program being) smaller or bigger — I think it’s about leadership skills, and from what I see, I think he has them.”
Nielsen is a graduate of Minnesota State, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business finance and a master’s in sports administration.
Contact assistant sports editor Caleb Raubenolt at [email protected]