The University of Montana promoted associate athletic director Kent Haslam to athletic director on Wednesday.

The Big Sky Conference university is trying to advance out of a tumultous period in which athletic director Jim O'Day and football coach Robin Pflugrad were fired in March in the wake of numerous arrests and alleged sexual assaults over recent years, some of which involved Grizzlies football players. One former player has since pleaded guilty.

Haslam, who has served as Montana's associate athletic director for development since January 2006, splitting his duties between athletics and the UM Foundation. He was selected over three other finalists.

Jean Gee had served as interim athletic director after O'Day's firing.

"This day does much the culmination of a long journey, it really does," Haslam said at his introductory news conference on campus. "But I understand now that it's also the beginning - the beginning of a lot hard work, it's the beginning of a lot of focus, it's beginning of things that we want to get done here at the University of Montana."

Montana's football program, which has won two FCS (then Division I-AA) national championships and finished as the runner-up five times, is under investigation by the NCAA, the Department of Education and the Justice Department over the handling of sexual assault reports on campus.

Before arriving at Montana, Haslam worked six years as associate athletic director for external operations at Northern Arizona. He also was the manager of media and communications for the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee from 1998 to 2000.

He earned undergraduate degrees in broadcast journalism and Japanese from Brigham Young University in 1993 as well as a master's in education from Northern Arizona in 2004.