Spears named acting director of NIU Athletics

Christian Spears

Christian Spears

Christian Spears will serve as acting director of Northern Illinois University Athletics beginning April 15, NIU President John G. Peters announced Thursday.

Spears joined the Athletics executive administrative team in April 2009, coming from Southern Illinois University. Promoted from senior associate athletics director to deputy director of Athletics in August 2012, Spears will step up to lead Huskie Athletics following the departure of Jeff Compher to East Carolina University.

He has overseen many of Huskie Athletics’ administrative units, including academic support services, compliance, life skills, strength and conditioning, football operations and equipment. Under his guidance, Northern Illinois ranks among the national leaders in Academic Progress Rate (APR) and Graduation Success Rate (GSR). He has been involved in hiring coaches and staff and is the sport administrator for women’s cross country, women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s track & field and wrestling.

He also serves as the primary liaison between Intercollegiate Athletics and NIU administrative units, such as the Office of the Vice Provost, the Office of General Counsel, Admissions and others.

Peters, who consulted with incoming NIU President Douglas D. Baker about the appointment of Spears, said this is an important time for Huskie Athletics.

“I am pleased to announce – and President Designate Baker concurs – that Christian Spears has agreed to take on this important role. Christian is well-respected within the department and is a national leader in his field,” Peters said.

“While ultimately the selection of a new director of athletics will be the prerogative of Dr. Baker, this selection best ensures continuity within the athletic department in the interim,” Peters added. “We believe that Christian can capitalize on the opportunity and interest in NIU created by the Orange Bowl berth to continue the growth of our athletics program, increase attendance and interest and promote Huskie athletics to our students, faculty, alumni and fans in our community and service region.”

In addition to his duties at Northern Illinois, Spears currently serves as president of the National Association for Athletics Compliance (NAAC). He said he looks forward to helping NIU Athletics capitalize on its recent successes, including its five Mid-American Conference championships over the past two years.

“First and foremost, I want to thank Dr. John Peters and Jeff Compher for bringing me and my family to NIU four years ago. What this department has accomplished together with our university community, coaches and student-athletes during that time has been truly special,” Spears said.

“We have great momentum going into the next academic year and I am honored to serve our coaches and student-athletes during this exciting time,” he added. “I also look forward to working with Dr. Doug Baker during this transition. He recognizes how special this university is and his student-centered approach is directly aligned with our mission within intercollegiate athletics of developing champions in the classroom, in competition and in life.”

As assistant athletic director at Southern Illinois University from 2003-09, Spears managed the Saluki Athletic Compliance Office and the athletic financial aid office. He was also the sport administrator for men’s and women’s track & field and cross country. Spears came to SIU in fall of 2003 from Harvard University, where he was assistant director for athletic compliance.

Spears began his career as a graduate student in the athletic marketing office at Long Beach State University. He served as the Big Ten intern for The Ohio State University, where he worked in the athletic compliance office while attending the Moritz College of Law.

Spears is a graduate of the University of Washington, where he majored in political science. He obtained a master’s degree in public administration from Long Beach State University in 1998 and received his Juris Doctorate from The Ohio State University in 2002.

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