The blare of UND Pride of the North horns and drums filled the Ralph Engelstad Arena lobby on Jan. 16, with glittering pom-poms guiding a new Fighting Hawks leader through dozens of fans, alumni, coaches, staff and students.
Epic pomp for significant circumstance.
This was new UND Athletics Director Bill Chaves’ introduction day, and, in a style which many have already noted, he quickly turned the attention from himself to the students.
“Wow, this is tremendous. Thank you to the band and to the cheerleaders for coming,” Chaves said, a genuinely warm smile and bright eyes turned their way. “That was really awesome. Thank you so, so much.”
Chaves is UND’s 16th athletics director, taking over for the retiring Brian Faison, who led the department to regional and national success for nearly a decade. Faison announced his retirement in October, sparking a search for the program’s next captain.
A recent change in state law, which now protects the identity of candidates until they are named finalists, allowed the search committee to draw multiple sitting Division I athletics directors to the position. UND President Mark Kennedy said the incredible applicant pool made his choice a difficult one.
“But Bill is really the best,” President Kennedy said. “He is an example of how we can attract the best to Grand Forks, North Dakota, and how they can help us be the best.”
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