In keeping with an emerging trend in higher education, management of the club and intramural sports programs and oversight of the NIU Recreation Center, the Outdoor Recreation Sports Complex and the office of Outdoor Adventures will move under the direction of Intercollegiate Athletics. Wellness initiatives currently in RecWell will remain within Student Affairs. These changes became effective on July 1, 2020.
NIU President Lisa Freeman said that the move of recreation functions to Athletics has several potential benefits for campus, the most important of which are strengthening the connection between NIU’s Division I student-athletes and other students on campus, and improving coordination of the academic programs that interact with athletes at all levels (club, intramural, intercollegiate), including athletic training and sport management.
“Students with a passion for athletics, whether they participate in Division I, in club sports, or in intramural sports, share an affinity for competition and an appreciation for how sport develops teamwork, leadership, communication and other skills,” Freeman said. “Creating a singular entity to work with, and for, all of those students will improve the experience, and provide the opportunity to promote better connections between these groups of students.”
NIU Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Sean T. Frazier shared Freeman’s excitement.
“Bringing all athletic programs under a single umbrella creates a collaborative environment that we believe will allow us to improve the recreational opportunities available to all students,” Frazier said. “I’m excited about this new expanded relationship with our colleagues in Recreation, and the opportunity to positively affect the college experience for all NIU students.”
In addition, the transition will help NIU realize operational efficiencies and provide NIU with the opportunity to review how to best serve students and enhance services. Potential benefits for campus include maintaining and further enhancing the educational, fitness, and indoor and outdoor recreational activities that the current staff and facilities have provided the campus community in the past.
Implementation of the transitional plan is still in the early phases with many details to be worked out.
The NIU Recreation Center will look to open in early August with adjusted hours of operations and facility layout changes and restrictions. NIU will gradually re-introduce additional programs and facility operations over the course of the fall semester while maintaining appropriate health and safety protocols.
Student Affairs will continue to offer the full slate of existing wellness programs including nutrition, stress management, alcohol education and relationship management.
“Our intention is to ensure that our services for students are as good, or better, than under the previous structure,” said Student Affairs Program Director Meg Junk.