Former Northern Illinois University associate vice president and director of Athletics Jeff Compher has been named one of four Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Under Armour Athletic Directors of the Year (ADOY) by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) for his work at NIU.
Compher was one of 28 winners spanning seven divisions (NCAA FBS, FCS; Division I-AAA, II, III, NAIA/Other Four-Year Institutions and Junior College/Community Colleges). He will receive his award during the James J. Corbett Awards Luncheon on Sat., June 15 at NACDA’s 48th Annual Convention at the World Center Marriott Resort in Orlando, Fla.
“Congratulations to Jeff Compher, and to all the student-athletes, coaches and staff of Huskie Athletics who contributed to the accomplishments that led to this prestigious Athletic Director of the Year honor,” said Northern Illinois President Dr. John Peters, who will retire on June 30. “NIU teams are competing for – and winning – more championships than ever before. Our student-athletes are winning in the classroom with multiple academic honors and awards, and high academic progress and graduation rates. Finally, they are making a tremendous impact in the community through their good works.”
Compher was nominated for the athletic director of the year honor by Peters, who cited the many accomplishments of Northern Illinois’ sports teams and student-athletes over the last several years in his nomination letter. Topping the list was the Huskie football team, which won back-to-back Mid-American Conference Championships and became the first MAC team to earn a berth in a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bowl game in 2012. The Huskies won 12 straight games en route to the Discover Orange Bowl and finished the season ranked in the Associated Press and USA Today Top 25 for the first time in school history.
Compher was selected for his commitment to student-athletes and higher education, administrative excellence and community contributions while guiding NIU to unprecedented levels of success during the 2012-13 academic year were recognized, explained NACDA Executive Director Bob Vecchione.
“Since 1998, NACDA has been highlighting significant contributions made by athletics directors across all divisions of our membership,” Vecchione said. “This award allows athletics directors to be recognized not only nationally, but also in their respective communities which heightens the awareness of their leadership position in the athletics enterprise.”
In 2008, Compher led the development of the NIU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Strategic Plan which defined the mission, vision and values of the department while setting strategic goals and objectives for each unit.
Under his direction, Huskie student-athletes excelled academically as all 17 intercollegiate athletic teams surpassed the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) each year during his tenure. His department produced seven Academic All-America selections, two National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes, an NCAA Woman-of-the-Year finalist and an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winner in the last three years.
In addition to ranking in the Top 12 nationally in APR in each of the last four years, the NIU football program captured its second-straight Mid-American Conference title last December and became the first MAC team to play in the Bowl Championship Series with its Discover Orange Bowl matchup against Florida State on Jan. 1, 2013.
During his tenure, Compher has hired 12 of NIU’s 16 current head coaches, most recently promoting Rod Carey to guide NIU football after Dave Doeren’s departure. He also hired softball’s Christina Sutcliffe and Kim Kester for women’s golf in 2012, former Michigan State assistant coach Mark Montgomery to lead the men’s basketball program in March 2011 and brought Doeren to NIU from Wisconsin in 2010.
Compher helped NIU secure more than $9 million in donations toward construction of the Kenneth and Ellen Chessick Practice Center, an indoor training facility that will benefit every Huskie team. Construction on the Chessick Center is slated for completion this fall. That facility—along with the partnership and support of the local community—is a major reason that Huskie Stadium will be the site of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) football championships five times over the next 10 years.