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New era begins in Athletics with Gary Friedman

New era begins in Illinois State Athletics

Gary Friedman has been chosen to serve as Illinois State’s 10th Director of Athletics in the NCAA Division I era. He replaces Sheahon Zenger, who took the director of athletics position at Kansas.

With more than 22 years of combined university and athletic administrative work, Friedman is experienced in fundraising, sales and marketing, strategic planning, facility enhancement, sport and budgetary management, community and university relations, as well as transitioning conferences.

“I’ve been familiar with Illinois State and its rich tradition since I was a young boy growing up in the suburbs of Chicago,” Friedman said. “To have the opportunity to join the Illinois State family and lead its Athletics program…is truly a dream a come true.”

Friedman earned his master’s in athletic administration and a bachelor’s in marketing at the University of Illinois. Prior to joining Illinois State, he served as the senior associate athletic director at Louisville. He was a member of the management team leading a $65 million per year intercollegiate athletics program, supporting 23 sports and more than 500 student-athletes.

He directed external operations at Louisville and led fundraising for the design and construction of several major facilities totaling more than $350 million. He also led efforts to raise more than $41 million in athletic gifts during the 2009-2010 year.

During the past two seasons at Louisville, 18 sports were nationally ranked and made post-season play. The program received 38 Big East regular season and tournament championships after joining the conference in 2005. All 23 sports have received a new facility in the past decade.

Prior to Louisville, Friedman served as the associate athletics director for external operations at Central Michigan. He helped increase annual fund revenues by 54 percent in three years, despite experiencing losing football and basketball seasons. He also worked at East Tennessee State, aiding the Buccaneers in setting new revenue highs.

Friedman and his wife, Ra’Tonya, have two sons. Noa’Sosa is 3 and Nehemiah is 1.