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Jim Phillips Named Northwestern's Director of Athletics

James J. Phillips, associate vice president and director of athletics at Northern Illinois University, has been named director of intercollegiate athletics and recreation.

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February 28, 2008 | by Alan K. Cubbage
EVANSTON, Ill. — James J. Phillips, associate vice president and director of athletics at Northern Illinois University, has been named director of intercollegiate athletics and recreation at Northwestern University, effective April 14, 2008, President Henry S. Bienen announced today.

Phillips has been NIU's athletic director since 2004. During that time, the Huskies have had unprecedented athletic success and consistent academic achievements by NIU student-athletes.

"To be certain, I am thrilled to be coming to Northwestern but will always remain extremely grateful to the wonderful people at Northern Illinois University," Phillips said. "A significant part of my heart as well as my family's heart will forever remain at NIU."

Phillips also has been extraordinarily successful in fund raising and marketing. He spearheaded the fund raising and construction of the $14 million Yordon Academic and Athletic Performance Center at NIU, the largest capital project in athletics history at NIU, and led several successful fund-raising campaigns for athletics. In addition, the Huskies opened an indoor practice facility for baseball, softball and men's and women's golf and will begin construction this spring on a new soccer/track and field complex.

"Jim brings a remarkable combination of enthusiasm, experience and expertise to the position of athletic director," said President Bienen. "He has a track record of success at the Division I level and a commitment to the values that Northwestern has always maintained in college athletics."

Prior to becoming athletic director at NIU, Phillips served as senior associate director of athletics for external affairs at the University of Notre Dame. He had previously been assistant director of athletics for development at the University of Tennessee and an athletic development officer as well as assistant basketball coach at Arizona State University.

"The opportunity to lead Northwestern's athletic and recreation programs is both exciting and humbling," Phillips said. "Northwestern is a world-class institution that does everything right in terms of college athletics and what they should stand for. My sincere thanks to President Bienen and Pat Ryan, chair of Northwestern's Board of Trustees, for the opportunity to help lead this distinguished university."

Phillips succeeds Mark Murphy, who resigned as athletic director in January to become the president of the Green Bay Packers football team. Robert Gundlach, director of Northwestern's Writing Program and the University's faculty athletics representative, has been serving as the interim athletic director since January.

"I am delighted that Jim Phillips will be joining us at Northwestern. I look forward to working with him in my role as faculty athletics representative," Gundlach said.

During Phillips' tenure at NIU, he was instrumental in scheduling high-profile football games against Michigan and Ohio State that resulted in the first national television appearances for NIU. He also negotiated playing the University of Iowa last fall at Soldier Field in Chicago as a home game at NIU, a game that sold out in less than a week.

In addition, Phillips negotiated a multiple-year agreement for the radio power WSCR-AM (The Score) to carry football, men's basketball and a weekly NIU Live radio show to discuss all the Huskie athletic programs.

A 1990 graduate of the University of Illinois, Phillips started his career as a manager and student assistant in Illinois' athletic department. While at Arizona State, he earned a master's in education. He also holds a Ph.D. in educational administration from Tennessee.

Phillips and his wife, Laura, have four children: Luke, Madeleine, Meredith and John Patrick. He is one of 10 children and his wife is one of seven; both were born and raised in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Northwestern All-Time Athletics Directors
1895-1896 Otto Miller
1897-1898 W.J. Bryan
1898-1902 C.M. Hollister
1903-1904 Horace Butterworth
1905-1906 F.O. Smith
1906-1910 Louis Gillesby
1910-1913 Charles Hammett
1913-1918 Fred Murphy
1919-1920 Charles W. Bachman
1921-1924 Dana Evans
1925-1945 Kenneth L. Wilson
1945-1956 Theodore B. Payseur
1956-1966 Stuart K. Holcomb
1967-1974 W.H.H. (Tippy) Dye
1975-1980 John Pont
1981-1987 Doug Single
1987-1993 Bruce Corrie
1993-1994 Bill Foster
1994-2003 Rick Taylor
2003-2007 Mark Murphy
2008- Jim Phillips