Rockford native Carl Armato, a former Huskie basketball player and assistant coach, and a member of the Northern Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame, will return to his alma mater as an Associate Athletics Director, NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher announced Thursday.
Armato, who has spent the past three years as the Director of Athletics for the Rockford Public School system, spent seven years at NIU working with the men’s and women’s basketball teams from 2001-08.
“I am very pleased to welcome Carl Armato back to the Huskie Athletics staff as a member of our executive team,” Compher said. “Carl brings a wealth of experience and knowledge as a student-athlete, a coach and most-recently, as an administrator. He also brings a great understanding of our region and appreciation for the history of Northern Illinois Athletics. He has built relationships in the community and will be an outstanding ambassador for NIU.”
Armato takes over for long-time Northern Illinois administrator Dee Abrahamson, who announced her retirement from NIU in May. His duties will include the supervision of several Huskie sports programs, including volleyball, gymnastics, women’s tennis and baseball, and leadership of the game operations staff.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to join Jeff [Compher] and his staff at Northern Illinois,” Armato said. “As a former student-athlete and coach, I think I have a good understanding of the university and what it takes to be successful academically at NIU, and competitively in the Mid-American Conference. I look forward to working with the coaches, helping the student-athletes achieve their goals and serving the university. My heart is with the Huskies and I have always considered NIU my home away from home. It’s great to be back.”
A 1984 graduate of Northern Illinois University, Armato left the NIU men’s basketball program ranked second in career assists (284) and currently ranks ninth on the list. He was the starting point guard on the first Huskie men’s basketball team to play in the NCAA Tournament; that 1981-82 team was inducted into the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009. As a junior, he averaged 4.3 assists, 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game. In his senior season, Armato led the MAC and ranked 15th in the country in free throw percentage.
After graduating from NIU and beginning his coaching career on the high school level, including serving as varsity boys’ coach at Winnebago (1985-87) and DeKalb (1987-89) high schools, he returned to Rockford as head coach at Rock Valley College from 1989-2001. His Rock Valley teams compiled a 219-135 record, posted 11 winning seasons in 12 years and made three appearances in the National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament. Following the Golden Eagles’ seventh-place showing in the 2001 NJCAA Tournament, Armato was named Region IV Coach of the Year.
The following season, he returned to NIU as an assistant men’s basketball coach and was part of the staff that led the Huskies to a share of the MAC West title in 2005-06. After one season on Carol Owens’ women’s basketball staff, he left Northern Illinois to return to Rockford for the position with Rockford Public Schools.
Armato was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) Hall of Fame in 1989. A 1979 graduate of Rockford Boylan High School, he and his wife, Sharon, have four daughters and a son.