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Beyond the Game: UWM Athletic Director Amanda Braun

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- UW-Milwaukee is sitting out the NCAA Tournament this March, as it has every year since 2006. However, the school is looking to return to the Big Dance in the future.

Bud Haidet was the athletic director at UW-Milwaukee for 21 years. In many ways, those were the salad days of the Panthers sports programs. Since Haidet retired in 2009, the school has had four successors and far less athletic success.

The latest to take the reins is Amanda Braun, who will officially start her job on May 1st -- with a plan.

"It's one step at a time for me -- just a process of doing anything and being successful, you have to lay the groundwork, and for me, that's the people. Getting to know the people and with some of the transitions here in recent years, that's going to be important -- to make sure everyone feels supported and that we're all in this together. That's priority number one," Braun said.

Becoming an athletic administrator was hardly a priority for Braun when she left Brodhead, Wisconsin to attend Siena College in New York State to play basketball. Mike Deane was the men's coach there when she arrived on campus. However, Braun has risen steadily in the field to land her first AD job in her home state.

"I'll be hands on with the things that are necessary, and I'll be involved in a lot, but there's a wonderful administrative staff in place right now that care a lot and have a lot of good ideas. I'll lean on them and we'll work together to make sure we're covering everything," Braun said.

The only thing for some Panthers fans in men's basketball. For years, the team played downtown in the U.S. Cellular Arena, before moving back to campus and the Klotsche Center this past season. There are pros and cons with each facility, but general wariness both inside and outside the program about the whole situation.

"I think you need to reflect on what this past year was, and I need to understand a little bit better what went into the decision and I think the idea is right -- you want it to be on campus. Now, is the facility that's on campus the right one? Can we do what we need to do to make it the right one?There are a lot of questions. More questions than answers that I have right now," Braun said.

What Braun does have now is the job that Haidet held for decades. She also has the chance to help re-establish a strong athletic brand on the east side of town.

Braun is coming to UWM from Northeastern University in Boston, where she was associate athletic director. Before that, she spent six years in a similar job at UW-Green Bay.