Nielsen is new AD at USD Neilsen by David Lias Joel Nielsen has decided to work for a new team.
In a press conference held Tuesday afternoon on the gridiron of the DakotaDome, Nielsen was introduced to the media and the public as The University of South Dakota's new athletic director.
"Boy, I'm excited about this, to get back home, to get back into a league where I've played, where I've coached, a league that I feel that I know pretty well. The North Central Conference is a great league," he said.
Nielsen has held a similar position at Colorado College since April 2001. Nielsen will begin his duties in Vermillion in December.
From 1993 to 2001, Nielsen was associate athletic director at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, where he was in charge of the administration of the athletic department's external relations.
At Wake Forest, he developed the department's marketing programs and special events, increasing football season ticket sales by 55 percent and men's basketball by 52 percent.�
He administered the university's licensing program, nego-tiating the department's full-service football and apparel contract with Nike. He also assisted the development office in planning, coordinating and soliciting for the capital campaign and annual fund.
Nielsen is no stranger to the Midwest.
He is a native of Latimer, IA, and is currently a doctoral candidate (leadership and educational policy studies) at Northern Illinois.
He earned a bachelor of science degree in business finance in 1986 and a master of science degree in sports administration in June 1990, both from Minnesota State, Mankato.
Nielsen played football and also served as an assistant football coach (1989-90) at Minnesota State, Mankato.
"The asset that makes USD one of the best small public universities in the country is our human resources � our faculty, our administration, our staff," said USD President James Abbott. "Today, we welcome a great addition to those resources."
A search committee narrowed the field of applicants seeking USD's athletic director position to four. Abbott said he spoke with each of the four finalists.
"Each has a great number strengths, but Joel Nielsen, in my opinion, clearly has it all � a proven fundraiser, a current athletic director at one of the nation's best private colleges, a gentlemen with demonstrated success in both public and private arenas. In short, he is a proven leader in all aspects of athletic administration."
Nielsen said he is ready to take on the challenges of helping to manage the many facets of Coyote athletics.
"There have been challenges at every stop I've had along my career," he said. "The challenges don't really change, sometimes just the situations change.
"With the support I've received thus far from President Abbott and Vice President (Greg) Redlin, I'm excited about this," Nielsen said.
At Colorado College, Nielsen led a 20-sport athletic program, including sponsorship of 18 programs at the Division III level and two sports at Division I. During his tenure, he coordinated a facilities priority plan resulting in the reconstruction of the Washburn Field Complex, including the addition of an artificial playing surface and a new running track.
Nielsen supervised and developed a season ticket, corporate sponsorship and donor group plan that resulted in a significant increase in revenues. In addition, he developed a college licensing program, supervised a long-range development plan, and renegotiated the college's media contracts.
Nielsen said word of the open AD position at USD sparked his interest because he grew up in a farming community in Iowa and longed to return to that atmosphere.
"I played in this league, I coached in this league as I mentioned before, and it was an opportunity to get a little bit closer to my roots," he said.
Nielsen said he also talked to a number of his colleagues in the area. "Once we got off the phone, I became a lot more excited about it," he said.
Before Wake Forest, Nielsen served as a sports marketing director for the Hyatt Corporation in Atlanta, GA, from 1992 to 1993. With the Hyatt Corporation, he was responsible for the identification and solicitation of professional, collegiate and Olympic sports business in the Southeast.
Nielsen was also an assistant athletic director at Illinois State University in Normal, IL, from 1991-1992. At Illinois State, he coordinated external constituent solicitation and organized, directed and implemented a comprehensive marketing plan of a 16-sport athletic program.
He also served as an athletic development assistant at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL, from 1990-1991.
Nielsen's appointment is subject to approval of the South Dakota Board of Regents.
He and his wife, Sharon, have three daughters � twins Kelly, and Kasey, 6; and Kory, 4.