FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The athletic director of the University of Alaska Fairbanks is stepping down, officials said.

Sterling Steward Jr. will leave the university after eight months as athletic director, Fairbanks television station KTVF reported Tuesday.

Steward plans to pursue other opportunities in the Lower 48, specifically in the south, said Keith Champagne, vice chancellor for student affairs.

Champagne will take over the athletic director role while continuing to serve as the head of the student affairs department.

“In addition to Vice Chancellor Champagne’s experience in student affairs, he has a solid background in athletics. I am confident that under his leadership UAF athletics will grow,” University of Alaska Chancellor Dan White said in a statement Tuesday.

Champagne previously served as interim athletic director at Central Washington University.

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“As I’ve said from day one, I’ve talked about creating a 21st century, modern athletic department. And to do that, you have to have a highly functioning fundraising component,” Champagne said.

During Steward’s tenure beginning in October, the university added new locker room and team spaces and announced the Nanook hockey team will move from the Carlson Center in Fairbanks to a campus facility within two years.

The report of Steward’s departure came one day after the university announced the hiring of Terlynn Olds as the new associate athletic director of internal operations and senior woman administrator.

There have been seven new hires in the Nanook Athletic Department within the past year, the station reported.

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Information from: KTVF-TV, http://www.webcenter11.com