UND's Faison gets NCHC Distinguished Service Award

UND's Faison gets NCHC Distinguished Service Award Click to Enlarge

With two of the founders of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) retiring, former UND Director of Athletics Brian Faison and University of Denver Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation Peg Bradley-Doppes have been selected the co-recipients of the 2018 NCHC Distinguished Service Award, the conference announced Thursday.

Bradley-Doppes and Faison both played significant roles, along with others, in the formation of the NCHC, both having served on multiple conference and NCAA committees since the NCHC began operations in 2011. Without their vast knowledge, experience and hard work, the conference would certainly not be in the position it is today, and may not exist at all.

“The NCHC exists today because of people like Peg Bradley-Doppes and Brian Faison. Their vision, leadership and tireless efforts over the past seven years are reasons why our conference has enjoyed so many successes,” NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton said. “It is our honor and pleasure to recognize both for their tremendous contributions to the NCHC.”

Back in the summer of 2011, with the landscape of college hockey uncertain, Bradley-Doppes and Faison were part of a small group that contemplated the creation of a new single-sport ice hockey conference. Thanks to their efforts and dedication, organizing phone calls and meetings, their vision became a reality and on July 13, 2011 at the Penrose House in Colorado Springs, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference was officially founded with Bradley-Doppes and Faison at the forefront and center of it all.

“There is a real possibility our best-in-class hockey conference would not exist without Peg and Brian’s vision and efforts to create the conference, growing it from idea to reality,” wrote Western Michigan Senior Associate Athletics Director Monty Porter in his nominations on behalf of the NCHC membership. “In those uncertain days, when college ice hockey needed leadership and direction, Brian and Peg were present and willing to find a best way forward. Today, as a result of the work done by them (and others), we are all fortunate to be members of the thriving and premier college ice hockey conference in America.”

Bradley-Doppes has served on the NCHC Athletic Council (originally the Board of Directors) since the beginning of the NCHC, working alongside other member school administrators, presidents and chancellors, while helping make difficult decisions and charting future success for the conference. The University of Denver served as the Chair of the NCHC Athletic Council last season (2016-17) with Bradley-Doppes working alongside then Denver Deputy Athletics Director Ron Grahame in overseeing the Council. She has also represented Denver at the annual NCHC Board of Directors meeting as a delegate for the DU Chancellor position. In addition, Bradley-Doppes often provided the NCHC Athletic Council with national updates relating to NCAA matters given her involvement on several NCAA committees.

“The success of the NCHC is the people, institutions and staff that work together, collectively, day in and day out to make the NCHC the very best conference in college hockey. This team approach has enabled us to attract and retain the very best coaches, student-athletes and staff year after year,” Bradley-Doppes said. “I am humbled to receive this award and am thankful to be part of this terrific NCHC team.”

Like Bradley-Doppes, Faison has been a member of the NCHC Athletic Council since the formation of the conference. He served as the Chair of the NCHC Athletic Council (then Board of Directors) for the first three years of the conference’s existence (2011-14), including overseeing the NCHC’s first season of competition in 2013-14. Along with the Athletic Council, Faison provided additional input and insight on the NCHC Advisory Committee, providing perspective to the Commissioner and the conference as a whole when making difficult and important decisions, for the conference’s first four years (2011-2015). In addition, he served as the NCHC’s representative on the NCAA Ice Hockey Championship Committee in the conference’s first four years of competition (2013-17) and was a two-year member of the NCHC’s Finance/Audit Committee. Faison played a key role in serving as the unofficial spokesperson for the NCHC when the conference was first formally being announced and during the conference’s commissioner transition in the summer of 2013.

“I am honored and humbled to receive the NCHC Distinguished Service Award. It is very special to share this recognition with Peg Bradley-Doppes,” Faison said. “It was exciting to be a part of the formation of the NCHC. From that first meeting in the breakfast nook of the Country Inn and Suites at the Denver airport, to the formal press conference announcing the conference’s formation in Colorado Springs, we were blessed to have an incredible group of athletic directors, head coaches and faculty athletics representatives who brought all manner of skill sets to the table. And look at the NCHC today, arguably the best college hockey conference in the country. It has been very satisfying to see the conference grow and excel, and it would not be possible unless all of the athletic directors, FARs, head coaches and presidents took a great leap of faith in forming the NCHC.”

Bradley-Doppes has served as Denver’s Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation for the past 13 years and will retire officially on June 30, 2018. Under Bradley-Doppes’ guidance, Denver has captured nine NCAA Division I-AAA Directors’ Cups, eight national championships, including ice hockey in 2017, and 105 conference titles. With more than 36 years of collegiate experience, including 11 as a head coach and 25 as an administrator, Bradley-Doppes has served on numerous NCAA committees, including Management Council, the Committee on Women's Athletics, Division I-AAA, Olympic Sports Liaison Committee, NACDA Treasurer and Executive Committee, and the prestigious NCAA Division I Leadership Council. Most recently, she was named the president of the ADA I-AAA Executive Committee for the 2013-14 season after serving as second vice president the season prior.

“Peg is truly an exceptional leader, one who inspires her coaches, administrative staff, peers and most importantly, student-athletes, to do their best and do it right,” wrote Grahame, who has worked alongside Bradley-Doppes her entire Denver career, in his nomination. “Peg never seeks recognition; rather she supports her coaches and student-athletes so they can achieve the highest success possible.”

Bradley-Doppes, who was named the West Region Under Armour AD of the Year in 2012, served as a volleyball coach at Miami University, the University of North Carolina and the University of Michigan, before switching to the administrative side at Michigan. She served as Director of Athletics at UNC Wilmington for five years prior to joining the staff at Denver. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Bradley-Doppes received her bachelor’s degree from the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati in 1979 and her master’s degree from Miami University in 1981.

Faison, who officially retired at the end of 2017 but is still serving as a special advisor to UND Athletics through June 30, was the Director of Athletics at UND for 10 years. Under Faison’s watch, North Dakota saw tremendous growth and change, highlighted by the five-year process he oversaw to move all UND athletic programs to the Division I level, previously only enjoyed by men’s hockey. In addition, he spear-headed UND’s transition to a new nickname and logo, the construction of UND’s High Performance Center, and multiple multi-sport conference realignments. While at the helm of UND Athletics, Faison saw North Dakota capture 27 conference titles and one national championship – men’s hockey in 2016. With over 35 years of experience in college athletics, Faison has served on several regional and national committees in addition to his NCHC service, including chairing the Big Sky Conference Joint Council and the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee.

“The NCHC would not even exist without the efforts of Brian Faison. His leadership and willingness to compromise for the benefit of the league created the basis for what would be the best single-sport conference in the country,” wrote Colorado College Director of Athletics Ken Ralph in his nomination. “While others would have taken advantage of the largest and most active fan base in the conference, Brian leveraged that for the advantage of all league schools. The NCHC is going to miss Brian’s expertise, leadership and good humor.”

Faison, who earned the 2017 Under Armour Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Athletic Director of the Year award prior to his retirement, came to North Dakota in May of 2008. Before heading to Grand Forks, he was the Director of Athletics at both New Mexico State and Indiana State. Faison also gained collegiate administrative experience at Louisville and Illinois State. A native of St. Louis, Faison got his start in collegiate athletics in alumni and public relations at his alma mater after graduating from the University of Missouri in 1972. He also graduated from the National Planned Giving Institute in 1997.

Bradley-Doppes, who will be unable to attend in person, and Faison will be presented their NCHC Distinguished Service Awards at the NCHC’s Annual Meeting with athletics directors, faculty athletics representatives and coaches held in Naples, Fla. on April 23.

The NCHC’s Distinguished Service Award is not necessarily bestowed upon someone annually, but is presented to an individual who has served, supported and promoted the goals and ideals of the NCHC and who, through personal effort and dedication, has enhanced the ability of the Conference and/or its member institutions to provide a positive experience for the stu­dent-athletes enrolled at NCHC member institutions.

The inaugural NCHC Distinguished Service Award was presented to Mr. Bill Hybl, the Chairman and CEO of El Pomar Foundation, in 2016, while Denver’s Grahame received the honor last year.

UND Athletics

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