With a background in fundraising, sales and marketing, strategic planning, facility enhancement, sport and budgetary management and community and university relations, Friedman was a natural fit to lead the Illinois State Department of Intercollegiate Athletics into the future. Friedman earned his master's degree in athletic administration in 1992, and his bachelor's degree in marketing in 1989, both at Illinois. He is the past president of the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators (NACMA) and a member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and the National Association of Athletic Development Directors (NAADD).
Prior to taking over in Normal, Ill., Friedman promised a fast paced, proactive environment within the department and his vision has quickly taken shape. The goals for the department include (1) keep student-athletes first and at the heart of every decision; (2) continue to keep academics as a top priority; (3) excellence within the rules; (4) operate in a first class manner; (5) demonstrate fiscal responsibility; (6) win; (7) provide valuable entertainment options for the community; (8) operate within the mission and goals of ISU. In addition to the department goals, the Redbirds values include Respect, Enthusiasm, Discipline, Believe, Integrity, Responsibility, Diversity and Success.
During the 2011-12 season, the Redbirds finished first in the Missouri Valley Conference in the Learfield Cup All Sports Rankings, and 82nd overall - their highest finish ever in the Learfield Cup. The year included four conference championships, five conference Coaches of the Year, four post season team appearances, and a repeat National Champion in the javelin in Tim Glover. Academically, the Redbirds enjoyed success as well by setting a new standard by posting an overall GPA of 3.15.
The athletics program has also increased its visibility both regionally and nationally with an expanded television and radio network. ISU athletics restructured its radio agreement to expand the network and bring sales in house. Additionally, the Redbirds television package with Comcast SportsNet Chicago is the largest of its kind in-state. Overall, in 2012-13, the Birds will appear at least 30 times regionally and nationally on the ESPN family of networks, Fox Sports and Comcast SportsNet.
Facilities enhancements are also a priority for Redbird athletics. Hancock Stadium is receiving a $25 million facelift, including new suites and club level to be completed for the 2013 football season. The men's basketball locker room was renovated over the 2012 summer. Women's basketball and volleyball locker rooms are next to be redone in 2013. Coaches' offices in Horton Fieldhouse were expanded and a new state-of-the-art driving range is being added to Weibring Golf Course to be completed in the fall of 2013. New field turf is being added to Duffy Bass Baseball Stadium in spring 2013 and fundraising continues to build a new softball stadium. Redbird Arena has also experienced upgrades with a new hardwood floor and newly updated donor rooms are scheduled to be done in the fall of 2013.
At Louisville, Friedman 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. With the Cardinals, Friedman directed external operations, which included marketing, promotions, development, major gifts and the annual fund, and led fundraising for the design and construction of several major facilities totaling more than $350 million which included each of the Cardinals 23 sports receiving a facility upgrade. Friedman also led fundraising efforts that raised more than $41 million in athletic gifts during the 2009-10 year.
Prior to Louisville, Friedman served as the associate athletics director for external operations at Central Michigan from 1996 to 2001. At CMU, he led the fundraising and assisted in the planning and design for a $28 million expansion project, including football stadium expansion, indoor practice facility, academic center, indoor track stadium and weight training center. His efforts at Central Michigan also helped increase annual fund revenues in the department by 54 percent in three years, despite experiencing losing football and basketball seasons.
Friedman worked five years at East Tennessee State (1991-96), the first year as its director of marketing and promotions before advancing to assistant athletic director for external operations. There, he aided the Buccaneers in setting new revenue highs by creating new sponsorship and fundraising programs.
Born in Chicago, Friedman and his wife Ra'Tonya - who was crowned Mrs. Kentucky America in 2008 - have two sons, Noa'Sosa (5) and Nehemiah (3).