(Following story provided by Northwestern State University Sports Information Department)

NATCHITOCHES – Brad Laird, Northwestern State’s associate head football coach and defensive coordinator, will leave that post July 2 to become Acting Director of University Advancement at NSU.

He will succeed Drake Owens, who has handled that role since 2008 and recently announced his departure later this summer. The appointment is subject to approval by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana system.

Demon football coach Bradley Dale Peveto said the move is an “unexpected, special opportunity” for Laird and a “great move for the entire university.”  He said he “won’t rush” filling Laird’s coaching post and will look for the “right fit” for the NSU program.

“When we heard Drake was leaving, stepping into that job never entered my mind,” said Laird, a 1998 NSU graduate who has been part of the Demons’ coaching staff for eight years. “I love what I’ve been doing. But I had a friend in the community suggest that I might be good in that role, and the more I found out about it, the more excited I became at the chance to serve this university and its alumni, faculty, staff and students. Once I decided to pursue the job, I went to Coach Peveto and he’s been so supportive.  I will always deeply appreciate his wisdom and advice through this decision-making process.

“It’s tremendously difficult to step away from this football team and athletic department, and especially the coaches, players and staff I’ve worked alongside. It has been a privilege every step of the way. I will forever cherish the love and friendship that I’ve enjoyed with the Demon football family, but for my family, and for my university, this new job is a fantastic opportunity. (Wife) Renee and I love NSU, we love Natchitoches, and we look forward to this new adventure in our lives.”

Laird will oversee the NSU Alumni Association and the NSU Foundation. The Alumni Association promotes the advancement of academic excellence by developing coalition among alumni, students, friends and the university community, while supporting the university’s traditions, values and future. The NSU Foundation serves the university, its students and faculty primarily through financial resources raised and distributed.

Owens, who has been part of record fundraising and alumni outreach in his four years in the position, praised the selection of Laird as his successor.

“Brad is a team player who will be a great leader for the variety of talented people we have on our staff. He’s going to appeal to our alumni and donor base as somebody who can speak to all aspects of our university. He’s been selling Northwestern State University to recruits, their families and their coaches,” said Owens. “He knows about the great assets we have, the tremendous stories we have to tell.

“He’ll relate to someone who just graduated, and he’ll appeal to someone who’s receiving a 50-year-anniversary diploma. He just has a great demeanor and sincerely loves our university.”

The skill set Laird has honed with the Demon football program has him well positioned for immediate success in his new post.

“Everything he did for our football program is going to translate right into this new role and will open him up to the full range of Northwestern supporters,” said Owens. “Brad is so well respected, very cordial, very personable, and the exemplary professional. He’s managed personnel and operations, he’s done significant fundraising, and in every aspect of this job, I can’t imagine anybody being any better fit for this job.”

Peveto pointed out Laird’s deep ties to the university and community. Laird’s father Billy was a Demon assistant coach from 1975-82. Laird returned to Natchitoches as a highly-touted, championship-winning quarterback from Ruston High School and became the Demons’ career passing record-holder, throwing for 6,037 yards from 1991-95. He was named one of the Top 100 Players in Demon Football History during the 2007 Centennial Celebration of NSU football, and was enshrined in the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. His wife Renee, an NSU graduate, is a teacher in the Natchitoches Parish School system, and they have two children, Brianna (8) and Brock (5).

“It’s a great gain for our university,” said Peveto. “Any capacity you would put Brad Laird in, he’ll be very successful, as he has been for our football program. He’s Mr. NSU. He was a young boy here when his dad was coaching here. He was a great football player and earned his degree here, met his wife here, and now has been part of our football staff under three different head coaches.

“We hate to lose him off our coaching staff but this is an unexpected, special opportunity and it’s the right thing for him and for NSU. Brad is a tremendous coach, recruiter, teacher, mentor to his players, and is loved by everybody around our program and this university,” said Peveto.  “He will still be making Northwestern State better and on a much more broad scope. He has the Midas touch and I can’t say this enough, it’s a great move for the entire university.”

Filling Laird’s post on the coaching staff is a crucial decision, he said. Laird coached the safeties along with being defensive coordinator and handling many administrative and outreach duties as associate head coach.

“I’m going to take my time. It’s maybe the most important hire I’ve had to make here,” said Peveto, in his fourth year as coach, “and we need the right fit for our staff, for our defense, for our kids, for this community and the university. The most important thing is not getting a guy in place, it’s getting the right guy.”