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UND hires consulting firm to review top officials in the athletic department

UND President Mark Kennedy and Athletic Director Brian Faison sit through an IAC meeting last October as the school considered cutting sports sponsorship. This fall, Kennedy has hired a consulting firm to review UND's athletic department leadership. Herald file photo.

UND President Mark Kennedy has hired a consulting firm to review top officials in the athletic department.

UND athletic director Brian Faison told his head coaches to set up a meeting with a consulting firm between the days of Sept. 11-13, according to an email obtained by the Herald through an open records request.

The email was carbon copied to athletic department heads Kyle Doperalski (Associate Athletic Director for External Operations), Kara Helmig (Associate Athletic Director for Compliance) and Daniella Irle (Deputy Director of Athletics, Senior Women’s Administrator).

The consulting firm Bob Murney, Murney & Associates met with UND head coaches individually earlier this month in a conference room at Hyslop Sports Center.

Kennedy, along with school spokesman Peter Johnson, was asked about the consulting firm’s intentions during a weekly conference call with Herald reporters last Tuesday.

Kennedy declined to comment.

Days after the conference call, Johnson followed up with emails stating Murney & Associates has been tabbed throughout Kennedy’s tenure to provide consultation to a variety of UND departments, as well as the university’s new strategic plan, “One UND.”

Murney & Associates not only spoke with head coaches, but with Faison, as well. On Sept. 11, Faison received an email from Colleen Simcoe of Murney & Associates. Simcoe told Faison that “Murney & Associates, Inc. has been retained by UND to facilitate the Hogan Assessments Series with you.”

The email provided Faison with web links to The Hogan Assessments Series, a set of surveys gauging personality and leadership.

According to the contract between UND and Murney, Murney charges $1,700 for the Hogan Assessment service to UND. In the contract, Murney says the $1,700 charge entails “the administrative process, preparation, individual 1-hour interview, feedback and summary report.”

On Tuesday, the Herald asked Kennedy if he has confidence in Faison.

In response, Kennedy lauded Faison’s programs’ athletic and academic success, his ability to navigate UND from the Big Sky Conference to the Summit League and Missouri Valley Football Conference and the way he has handled the past year’s rocky path of cutting sports sponsorship amid budget reductions.

“I’d like to reverse the question,” Kennedy then said. “Who has accomplished as much in the last year that would have the standing to ask that question?”

In hopes of addressing Faison’s future rather than past accomplishments, Kennedy was then pushed whether he has confidence in Faison moving forward.

“I’ve given you my answer,” Kennedy said. “He’s accomplished a great deal. I would make it a practice to have faith and confidence in everybody that remains employed with me.”

Faison was contacted Tuesday for his thoughts on the consulting firm.

“It’s an opportunity to get feedback and think about how we can improve,” Faison said. “It’s part of the process. We can take those insights and continue to move forward.”

Faison said he has a contract at UND through 2021. On Jan. 6, 2016, former UND President Robert Kelley, eight days before retiring from UND, wrote a letter to Faison to notify his athletic director of Kelley’s recommendation of a five-year extension.

Johnson, however, noted to the Herald in 2016 that Faison, like many others at UND, doesn’t have a traditional contract and receives “an initial letter of appointment and then an annual notice of continuing appointment from the President’s Office saying that, subject to funding, we have a position for another year. (The Jan. 6 letter) is the closest thing that Brian has to a contract.”

Herald reporter Andrew Haffner contributed to this report.

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 13 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

(701) 780-1121
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