Nic Nelson takes questions from the media, shortly after being announced as the new athletic director at Briar Cliff University.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Briar Cliff University is pleased to announce the hiring of new athletic director Nic Nelson.
Nelson has served as the head men’s basketball coach at Briar Cliff since 2011, a position he has relinquished to focus on his new role as athletic director. Nelson's top assistant coach, Mark Svagera, will take over as head men's basketball coach.
While directing the men's basketball program, Nelson built the highest winning percentage of any coach in the university’s history. His teams also consistently earneded “NAIA Scholar Team” status for their high academic performance. Nelson’s commitment to excellence, both in competition and the classroom, will serve as a model of success for the entire athletic department.
“Nic Nelson’s history at Briar Cliff gives him a unique understanding of Briar Cliff’s athletic history and aspirations,” said Dr. Hamid Shirvani, president of Briar Cliff University. “It is an honor to name Nelson the athletic director for Briar Cliff. He is well respected by his peers, he’s proven himself as an assertive builder and he has the ambition to take our athletic department to the next level.”
[Athletic Director Nelson] is well respected by his peers, he’s proven himself as an assertive builder and he has the ambition to take our athletic department to the next level.
— Dr. Hamid Shirvani, Briar Cliff University president
As head coach, Nelson most recently finished his sixth season at Briar Cliff with a 26-8 record. His previous season record was 32-4, which is a university record for the most wins in a season. In both 2016 and 2017, Nelson was recognized as the GPAC Coach of the Year. In 2016, Nelson was also recognized as the Iowa Basketball Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year and winner of the “All That’s Right in Sports” award. Under Nelson’s leadership, the men’s basketball team also earned the title of GPAC champions in 2016 and 2017. Though it is bittersweet to say goodbye to coaching, this is a great way to close this chapter of Nelson’s career.
“I am honored to have served as the men’s head basketball coach at Briar Cliff University,” said Nelson. “I am humbled by the success we have experienced in our program. I believe my strengths as a coach will translate well to my new position as athletic director. My ambitions to build great programs, recruit aggressively and collaboratively guide decision-making for continued success will create an era of sustained success for all Briar Cliff athletic programs.”
When looking to the future, Nelson has aggressive goals to build all programs of the athletic department. Coaches will be accountable for recruiting talented athletes that show commitment to education, too. Student athletes contribute to the culture of the Briar Cliff campus, so these recruitment efforts will enhance the overall Briar Cliff experience for all students. Ultimately, this targeted recruitment will build outstanding competitive sports programs, too. Nelson’s goal is to see all Briar Cliff programs compete on a consistent basis in the upper half of the GPAC and contend for championship titles.
Outside of competition, Nelson’s strong communication skills, work ethic and strategic thinking poise him to build a collaborative, strategic plan for athletics that will support our culture of excellence. Components of the plan will include enhancements for coaching staff, game and practice facilities and engagement with our alumni and benefactors.
Nelson came to Briar Cliff in 2007 to serve as the top assistant men’s basketball coach before being promoted to head coach. Prior to his time at Briar Cliff, Nelson coached at Central College in Pella, Iowa and Ogden High School in Ogden, Iowa. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Morningside College in history, government and secondary education in 2001, and a master’s degree in liberal studies in 2007 from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan.
Nelson and his wife, Michelle, have two daughters, Grace and Claire.