FARGO, N.D. (AP) -Chris Mussman was hired as football coach at North Dakota on Friday.
Mussman replaces Dale Lennon, who left last week to take the head coaching job at Southern Illinois.
``I could have gone with Dale,'' Mussman said. ``This is a place that I've grown to love and a place where we can do a lot of good things and continue the foundation that was set.''
An assistant coach with the Sioux for the past nine seasons under Lennon, the 39-year-old Mussman was the only person to apply for the head coaching job after athletic department officials said they would begin with an internal search.
North Dakota is preparing to make the jump to NCAA Division I next season after playing in the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-AA. UND also is searching for an athletic director and a new president.
``It has been a whirlwind week for all of us, with Dale leaving,'' Mussman said. ``It's tough to lose your friend, but we have to move on and this program has to move on.
Steve Brekke, one of UND's acting athletic directors, said Mussman did not assume the job was his, even though he was the only person interviewed.
``Chris came well prepared for the interview,'' Brekke said. ``He came forward with a business plan. He came forward with history about the program.''
Mussman was named UND offensive coordinator in 2000 and assistant head coach in 2003.
He played four years of college football at Iowa State and was the team captain his senior year.
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