On behalf of 395 Northern Illinois student-athletes, our head coaches and athletics staff, it is my pleasure to present the 2011-12 Huskie Athletics Annual Report. This year’s report features information on one of the best years in Northern Illinois University’s athletics history. From four Mid-American Conference Championships to AllAmericans and Academic All-Americans, national rankings and national awards, this report recaps the inspirational moments, record-breaking student-athletes and landmark accomplishments of the past year. One of the most significant events of the year occurred in the opening weeks of the fall semester when we announced the $3 million gift presented by Dr. Kenneth Chessick and his wife, Ellen, to name the Kenneth and Ellen Chessick Practice Center. Jump-started by the naming gift and powered forward by 27 leadership donors, fundraising for the Chessick Practice Center surpassed the $9.1 million mark in less than a year. This building is a giant step in helping us continue our mission of Developing Champions … in the Classroom, in Competition and in Life. Speaking of champions, the Fall 2011 semester provided thrill upon thrill for Huskie fans with volleyball, men’s soccer and football all earning MAC Championships. In the spring, men’s tennis claimed its first Mid-American Conference title, giving NIU a school-record four in 2011-12. There were signs of progress from many teams last year. The young Huskie basketball teams both won games in the Mid-American Conference Tournament for the first time since 1982 to finish the seasons strong under first year men’s head coach Mark Montgomery and women’s second-year head coach Kathi Bennett. With NIU’s team successes came individual accolades. Five Huskies were named All-Americans and eight qualified for NCAA postseason competition as individuals. NIU student-athletes earned 33 All Mid-American Conference honors and six MAC “specialty” awards – including players of the year in football and volleyball, and MAC Freshmen of the Year in women’s basketball and men’s tennis. Quarterback Chandler Harnish and volleyball’s Kristin Hoffman finished their careers as two of the most-decorated Huskies to ever don the Red and Black. Their achievements, including Hoffman’s status as one of 10 finalists for the NCAA Woman of the Year honor and Harnish’s selection as one of 16 National Football Foundation ScholarAthletes, cross boundaries from record-breaking athletes to stellar students and leaders. NIU’s academic achievements in 2011-12 matched and even surpassed its athletic success. For the seventh consecutive year, every Northern Illinois team exceeded the NCAA standards for Academic Progress (APR), the primary measurement used by the NCAA to gauge academic success. Most-importantly, 66 Huskie student-athletes received their undergraduate degrees in 2011-12. NIU Athletics continues to connect with the community as we partnered with Colleges versus Cancer, the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross on athletics-sponsored initiatives at home events. Through the CHAMPS Life Skills program, Huskie student-athletes completed nearly 3,000 hours of community service. Their dedication to Northern Illinois University, to their teams, and to their community, is inspiring. Northern Illinois Athletics engaged with fans through social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter in 2011-12. I would encourage you to “like” NIU Huskies on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @NIUAthletics and check out our YouTube videos, including the NIU Athletics “LipDub,” which has already been viewed more than 24,000 times. I hope this annual report helps you stay connected to Huskie Athletics, because none of our accomplishments would be possible without the support of our tremendous Huskie Athletics Support Fund donors, season ticket holders, alumni and fans. We look forward to seeing you at a game in 2012-13. Go Huskies!
Jeff Compher Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics
While Northern Illinois’ four Mid-American Championships represented an all-time record, NIU’s record for academic success is notable for its consistency. For the seventh consecutive year, all 17 of Northern Illinois University’s sports programs exceeded the academic standards measured by the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Academic Progress Rate (APR). The APR has become the primary tool used by the NCAA to judge a team’s academic success and serves as a predictor of graduation success. For the second consecutive year, the NIU football team earned a Public Recognition Award as one of the nation’s top APR squads, while the women’s outdoor track & field team earned the Public Recognition Award for the first time. Several student-athletes achieved academic success on an individual level. NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish was one of 16 football players to be named a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete. He received an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship and represented NIU in New York City at the 54th Annual NFF Awards Dinner. Kristin Hoffman earned the MAC’s 2012 Bob James Memorial Award, which included a $5,000 post-graduate scholarship, and won a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship worth $7,500 and was one of 10 NCAA Division I finalists for NCAA Woman of the Year. Volleyball seniors Hoffman and Allison McGlaughlin were named first and third team CoSIDA Academic AllAmericans, respectively. Finally, 66 Huskie student-athletes realized their dream and graduated with their degrees.
Brad Dieckhaus Nicole Gremillion Paul Hammerschmidt Chandler Harnish Kristin Hoffman Nabal Jefferson Jenelle McCalla Jenelle McCalla Allison McGlaughlin Mike Mascitti Ryan Neir Courtney Oldenburg Courtney Oldenburg Keith Otis Allie Parthie Kelsie Passolt Joe Pawlak Jenner Sio Jenner Sio Nick Smith Lauren Wicinski
Wrestling Softball Men’s Golf Football Volleyball Football Indoor Track & Field Outdoor Track & Field Volleyball Men’s Soccer Football Cross Country Outdoor Track & Field Football Women’s Golf Women’s Golf Football Indoor Track & Field Outdoor Track & Field Wrestling Volleyball
Huskie volleyball players Kristin Hoffman and Allison McGlaughlin earned CoSIDA Academic All-America accolades in 2011. Hoffman was a first team selection, while McGlaughlin garnered third team honors.
Troy White, a member of the Huskie baseball team, was a Jackie Robinson Scholar during his four-year career at Northern Illinois.
NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish was as successful in the classroom as he was on the field. In addition to being named the MACâ€™s 2011 Vern Smith Leadership Award winner, Harnish earned one of 16 spots in the 2011 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Class.
Northern Illinois student-athletes take an active role in the DeKalbSycamore community. In 2011-12, Huskies from all sports worked with citizens of all ages on 25 different projects including speaking to school children, working at community fairs and fun fests, visiting local nursing homes and participating in national initiatives. Huskie studentathletes completed almost 3,000 hours of community service led by the football team’s 606 hours, followed closely by the NIU softball team with 433 hours. While many Huskies work with their teams in the community, others continue community service projects they started in their hometowns. The NIU CHAMPS/Life Skills program coordinates many events, while individual teams also collectively adopt causes. On an annual basis, NIU Athletics is involved with promoting breast cancer awareness. The Huskie volleyball team joined forces with Kishwaukee Community Hospital and Colleges Against Cancer for their Spike Cancer weekend. The NIU football team also paired up with
Members of the NIU football team visited a local hospital to bring some cheer to the patients, many of them children, during their trip to Mobile, Ala. for the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl.
Colleges Against Cancer to don pink wristbands and gloves in its game with Kent State during Breast Cancer Awareness month, while the NIU women’s basketball team participates in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association breast cancer awareness campaign. Northern Illinois Athletics has also supported the efforts of the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, Muscular Dystrophy Association and local food banks through NIU Athletics events.
Several teams hosted children’s clinics on campus over the summer. Above, the volleyball team prepares the kids for a fun day of activities with a good stretch session. Outside on the soccer field, members of the women’s soccer team (right) provided top flight instruction on the fundamentals of soccer at the Northern Illinois Soccer and Track & Field Complex.
The community service efforts of NIU Athletics have an impact on the student body as well as the community. Last season, the NIU football team paired up with Colleges Against Cancer. In honor of breast cancer awareness month, fans received pink Huskie buffs (above) and wore them proudly during the game.
Northern Illinois Volleyball standout Kristin Hoffman added one more prestigious award to her impressive list of career honors when she was named the Mid-American Conference’s female 2012 Bob James Memorial Award winner. Chosen by the league’s faculty athletic representatives, the Bob James Memorial Award is a $5,000 post-graduate scholarship for one female and one male studentathlete who have achieved a minimum grade point average of 3.50, and have displayed good character, leadership and citizenship. Hoffman, a four-year letterwinner, graduated summa cum laude from NIU in the spring of 2012 with a bachelor of arts degree in history and a 3.975 cumulative GPA. She was a Northern Illinois Victory Scholar (3.50 GPA or better), an honors program participant and Dean’s List honoree for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from 2008-12. The Batavia, Ill. native is using the prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship ($7,500) she recently earned to attend law school at Marquette. Hoffman also made the cut from 430 nominees to the top 30 for the esteemed NCAA Woman of the Year Award, and was one of 10 Division I finalists for the award. As team captain in 2011, Hoffman helped lead the Huskies to the MAC regular season title for the first time since 2001. She became the first Huskie to be named MAC Setter of the Year after leading the country in assists with 12.27 per set. She ranks second all-time at NIU in assists (4,392) and 19th in digs (796). Outside of athletics, Hoffman participated in an AmeriCorps program called Students in Service where she was required to log 300 hours of community service. Through Students in Service she worked at a daycare, tutored elementary school students, volunteered at a summer Girl Scout camp and played games at a nursing home. She also was a member of the NIU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee where she served as the Community Service Chair this past year.
Hoffman was honored at the 2012 Outstanding Women Student Awards for her contributions to Northern Illinois University. The Outstanding Women Student Awards have been held since 1980 and celebrate women students for their achievements and contributions.
Today, Northern Illinois University’s trophy case proudly displays
and when Mathew Sims’ 33-yard field goal sailed through the Ford
the Mid-American Conference Championships won by the Huskie
Field uprights as the clock hit 0:00, Northern Illinois had its first MAC
volleyball, men’s soccer, football and men’s tennis teams in 2011-
Football Championship in 28 years. NIU closed out a magical season
12. While the MAC Championship trophies are visible symbols of the
with a 38-20 victory over Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl for
unprecedented success enjoyed by NIU Athletics last year, they tell only
its 11th win of the year.
part of the story.
Winter brought more Huskie highlights. Kathi Bennett’s second
In addition to the league crowns, four Huskie teams made NCAA
season as NIU women’s basketball head coach featured buzzer-
postseason appearances, eight individuals competed for NCAA titles,
beating victories, a win over Indiana and a run in the conference
and several NIU teams, including men’s and women’s basketball, built
tournament. The young Huskies defeated Western Michigan in the first
for the future with tournament success and late-season surges.
round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament in DeKalb, and
The Huskie volleyball team set the tone for NIU Athletics in the fall versus one of the most challenging non-conference schedules in school
advanced to the MAC quarterfinals for the first time since 2007 with a 61-60 last-second win over Akron in Cleveland.
history. Under the leadership of MAC Coach of the Year Ray Gooden,
On the men’s side, head coach Mark Montgomery laid a
Northern Illinois won 28 matches, and posted a 14-2 record in league
foundation for the future by focusing on fundamentals, hard work
play to claim the Mid-American Conference regular season title, the first
and discipline. In the end, one of the youngest teams in the nation
for NIU volleyball since 2001. Led by MAC Player of the Year Lauren
defeated Eastern Michigan, the MAC West Champions, in the first
Wicinski and Setter of the Year Kristin Hoffman, Northern Illinois earned
round of the MAC Tournament to advance to Cleveland and end the
a bid to the NCAA Championships for the first time in 10 years.
season by achieving one of their season goals.
Men’s soccer doubled the Huskies’ fall fun by tying the school record for wins with 15 en route to the MAC Men’s Soccer Tournament title and the second round of the NCAA Championships. Eric Luzzi’s team defeated Western Michigan, 1-0, in the MAC Championship game and earned a 3-0 victory over Western Illinois in the first round of the NCAAs before falling to No. 2 seed Creighton in the second round. With two championships in hand, football took its shot at history. Behind quarterback Chandler Harnish, NIU won its last seven regular season games to advance to the MAC Championship game versus Ohio. Trailing 20-0 at halftime, the Huskies staged a furious comeback
FOOTBALL Scott Wedige Second Team, CBSSports.com Chandler Harnish Honorable Mention, SI.com Trevor Olson Fourth Team, Phil Steele
VOLLEYBALL Lauren Wicinski Third Team, AVCA Kristin Hoffman Honorable Mention, AVCA
The Huskie wrestling and gymnastics teams sent multiple athletes to NCAA postseason competition in the winter. Wrestling extended its streak of consecutive seasons with an NCAA qualifier to 41 when Brad Dieckhaus and Kevin Fanta made the field, while gymnastics sent Tanya Rachan and Kim Gotlund to the NCAA Regionals in the floor exercise and the allaround, respectively. Northern Illinois track and field athletes won four Mid-American Conference titles – two each in the indoor and outdoor seasons. Indoors, Chanel Kellyman and Megan Gregory claimed the 60 meter dash and 60 meter hurdles championships, respectively. At the MAC outdoor meet, Janay Mitchell (100 meters) and the 4 x 100 meter relay team reached the top of the podium. The Huskies also sent a record four entries – Mitchell in the 100 and 200 meters, Roneisha Frye in the 100 hurdles, and the 4 x 100 meter relay team – to the NCAA West Preliminary Round in May. Men’s tennis won the fourth and final Mid-American Conference Championship of 2011-12 for Northern Illinois as they won a share of the regular season crown with an overall dual meet record of 21-7. NIU defeated both Western Michigan and Ball State in a season for the first time since 1974 en route to the sixth league title in program history. Three Huskies earned All-MAC honors, led by freshman Dor Amir, a first-team selection. After
Chandler Harnish Trevor Olson Mathew Sims Scott Wedige Perez Ashford Jasmin Hopkins Sean Progar Jimmie Ward Nathan Palmer Kim Gotlund Jordan Godsey Francis Otira James Stevenson Karim Darbaki Isaac Kannah Dani Parrish Jennifer Barnett Nicole Gremillion Dor Amir Axel Lagerlof Roman Turtygin Rasheta Butler Roneisha Frye Chanel Kellyman Janay Mitchell Sarah Angelos Kristin Hoffman Mary Kurisch Allison McGlaughlin Lauren Wicinski Brad Dieckhaus Kevin Fanta Rob Jillard
Football Football Football Football Football Football Football Football Football Gymnastics Men’s Soccer Men’s Soccer Men’s Soccer Men’s Soccer Men’s Soccer Softball Softball Softball Men’s Tennis Men’s Tennis Men’s Tennis Track & Field Track & Field Track & Field Track & Field Volleyball Volleyball Volleyball Volleyball Volleyball Wrestling Wrestling Wrestling
First Team First Team First Team First Team Second Team Second Team Second Team Second Team Third Team Second Team First Team First Team First Team Second Team Second Team First Team Second Team Second Team First Team Second Team Second Team First Team First Team First Team First Team Second Team First Team First Team Second Team First Team Second Team Second Team Third Team
Conference titles between 2003-2010, Northern Illinois’ four MAC Championships in 2011-12 tied the school’s all-time record for a single season and are sure to serve as a springboard for future success.
behind 15-7 midway through the second quarter, the Huskie offense rattled off 44 unanswered points, including 24 in the third quarter, to post a decisive 51-22 victory over the Broncos. Quarterback Chandler Harnish rushed for 229 yards while passing for 203, becoming the 10th player in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) history to tally 200 yards both rushing and passing in the same game.
October 22, 2011
Dave Doeren made his mark as the winningest first-year head coach in school history, and became the second NIU coach to lead his team to a Mid-American Conference championship.
September 3, 2011
Dave Doeren didn’t wait long to record his first career head coaching victory as the Huskies rolled to a 49-26 victory over the Black Knights of Army in the season opener at Huskie Stadium. The game could not have started better for NIU as the Huskie defense held Army to a three and out on its first possession. Jimmie Ward blocked the ensuing punt and Courtney Stephen scooped up the loose ball and ran in for the first score of the season. Jasmin Hopkins rushed for a game-high 138 yards on 14 carries, while Chandler Harnish threw for 195 yards on 12-of-19 passing and five touchdowns.
The Huskies began a three-game road swing with a rare trip to face MAC East foe Buffalo. With 37 seconds to play in the first half, Chandler Harnish broke a 10-10 tie and put the Huskies up 17-10 on a six-yard touchdown run. A pair of third-quarter touchdowns from Jasmin Hopkins gave NIU a 31-10 lead with 22 minutes to play, and the Huskies appeared to have an easy victory in hand. Buffalo responded with a flurry in the fourth quarter as the Bulls shut down the Northern Illinois offense and scored three touchdowns with the third TD coming with 14 seconds to play. However, the Bulls’ extra point attempt sailed wide left and the Huskies escaped UB Stadium with a 31-30 victory.
November 1, 2011
In a game that would decide the MAC West, Northern Illinois and Toledo traded blows in one of the most entertaining games in the country in 2011, and in MAC history. In the end, the Huskies outlasted the Rockets, 63-60,
October 8, 2011
After losing three of its previous four games and opening Mid-American Conference play with a loss at Central Michigan, Northern Illinois earned its first conference win and started the Huskies’ nine-game winning streak with a 40-10 victory over Kent State. NIU’s defense turned in a dominating effort with defensive lineman Nabal Jefferson setting the tone in the first quarter when he intercepted a Kent State screen pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. The NIU defense forced three turnovers on the afternoon and held the Golden Flashes to 64 yards of total offense.
October 15, 2011
Northern Illinois’ contest with Western Michigan separated the contender from the pretender in the Mid-American Conference West Division. After NIU fell
Versus Toledo, Tommylee Lewis scored on back-to-back kickoff returns to start the game. The Huskies won the contest, 63-60.
when Chandler Harnish threw his sixth touchdown pass of the game, a four-yard completion to Perez Ashford with 19 seconds left, for the gamewinning score. Huskie freshman Tommylee Lewis ran the opening kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown. After a Toledo score tied the game at 7-7 minutes later, Lewis brought back the next kickoff 95 yards to give Northern Illinois a 14-7 lead, setting the NIU school record and tying the NCAA mark for kickoff return scores in a game.
November 15, 2011
With the score tied 38-38 and eight seconds remaining, sophomore Mathew Sims drilled a 34-yard field goal for his first career game-winning kick to give Northern Illinois a 41-38 victory over Ball State at Huskie Stadium. The Huskies rallied from a 17-point third-quarter deficit by outscoring the Cardinals 27-7 in the fourth quarter. Chandler Harnish set a school record with 519 yards of total offense with 181 rushing yards on 28 carries and 338 passing yards.
December 2, 2011
Northern Illinois University won its first MAC Championship in 28 years in dramatic fashion when Mathew Sims drilled a 33-yard field goal as time expired, completing a 20-point comeback and giving the Huskies a 23-20 victory over Ohio. Trailing 20-0 at halftime, Nathan Palmer put the Huskies on the scoreboard with a 39-yard touchdown reception from Chandler Harnish
The Huskies recorded an amazing 41-38 come-from-behind victory over Ball State to retain the Bronze Stalk Trophy for another year. in the third quarter. With the score 20-13, Palmer’s second touchdown tied the contest at 20-20 with 2:52 left to play. The NIU defense forced a Bobcat punt on the ensuing possession, setting the stage for Sims’ heroics. As the kick sailed through the uprights, a raucous Huskie celebration spilled onto the field. Palmer earned Most Valuable Player honors with 115 receiving yards and two scores on four catches.
December 6, 2011
Senior quarterback Chandler Harnish traveled to New York City to represent NIU at the 54th Annual National Football Foundation Awards Dinner. Harnish was named one of 16 2011 NFF Scholar-Athletes, chosen from across all divisions of college football for their combined athletic, academic and leadership skills. Harnish, who received his bachelor’s degree in business at NIU in Spring 2011, received an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship from the NFF.
January 8, 2012
Mathew Sims (left) kicked a 33-yard game-winning field goal as time expired, while game MVP Nathan Palmer (above) had four receptions for 115 yards and two touchdowns.
NIU’s 19 seniors and their young teammates put an exclamation point on a championship season and secured their legacy with a 38-20 victory over Sun Belt Champion Arkansas State in the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl. Once again, the Huskies found themselves trailing by double digits — this time by a 13-0 score — before storming back to score 31 unanswered points en route to the win. With Chandler Harnish temporarily sidelined by injury, backup quarterback Jordan Lynch scored the Huskies’ go-ahead touchdown on a three-yard run after a seven-play, 78-yard drive. Harnish returned to lead the Huskies on a 10-play, 43-yard drive to give NIU a 21-13 halftime advantage. He connected with Martel Moore on a 43-yard TD pass to give the Huskies a 28-13 lead, while Dechane Durante secured the victory by returning his third interception of the season 36 yards for a touchdown.
Chandler Harnish capped off his career at Northern Illinois in spectacular fashion, leading the Huskies to their first MidAmerican Conference championship in 28 years, back-to-back bowl victories and capturing the Vern Smith Leadership Award as the MAC’s top player. In addition to earning the Vern Smith Award and MAC Offensive Player of the Year accolades, the Touchdown Club of Columbus selected Harnish as its 2011 Male Athlete of the Year. During his four-year career as the Huskies’ starting quarterback, Harnish
set 30 NIU passing, rushing and total offense records and became the first Huskie signal-caller to start four-straight bowl games. Harnish’s achievements on the field were matched by his success in the classroom. A three-time Academic AllMAC selection who earned his degree in business management, he was honored in New York City as one of 16 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes for 2011. While Harnish had a stellar career, it was not without its challenges. During his tenure at NIU, he played for three different head coaches, four different quarterback coaches and battled injuries. Through perseverance and hard work, Harnish departed DeKalb as the most-decorated quarterback in school history. After achieving all his goals at NIU, Harnish was selected by his home state team – the Indianapolis Colts – with the 253rd and final pick of the 2012 NFL Draft.
For complete biographies of the Class of 2011, log on to NIUHuskies.com.
The Huskie Athletic Support Fund (HASF), the fundraising arm of NIU Athletics, achieved yet another milestone in 2011. For the fifthconsecutive year the HASF was able to raise the number of donors and dollars contributed to Huskie Athletics through its Annual Fund Drive. The HASF concluded the year with 1,569 donors while raising $1,466,327 besting the marks of 1,525 donors and $1,435,420 set in 2010. Donations received through the HASF are dispersed directly to NIU sports programs’ budgets. HASF dollars are used to provide operational support and help to defray costs such as team travel, equipment, athletic facilities, operations, and medical services. The HASF is a cornerstone for NIU Athletics and the support of its donors is imperative for the continued success of NIU’s talented studentathletes. On behalf of the coaches, staff and our student-athletes; THANK YOU to all of our donors!
Dr. Kenneth and Ellen Chessick were recognized for their generous naming gift during NIU’s game at Chicago’s Soldier Field on Sept. 17, 2011. Eight months later, the Chessicks and the project’s leadership donors assembled on the site of the Chessick Practice Center for the ground-breaking ceremony prior to the Huskies’ annual spring game on April 21, 2012.
The Tailgate Showdown (above) and Football 101 (left) have become two of the most successful events the Huskie Athletic Support Fund conducts each year. Football 101 provides an inside look at the NIU football program for female Huskie fans, while the Tailgate Showdown brings amateur and professional cooks from the area to offer Huskie fans a taste of DeKalb-Sycamore.
Chessick Practice Center: The project includes a full-size 120-yard practice field with two end zones and overrun buffer space around the field for safety. The practice room itself is 80,600 square feet, with 6,400 square feet in the adjoining Barsema Hall of Champions.
Yordon Huskie Pride Plaza: • Visitors will be greeted by a statue of three heroic-scale huskies • The Pride of the Pack wall will list all leadership donors to the new facility • Personalized bricks purchased through the Legacy Brick Campaign will lead visitors into the complex
Barsema Hall of Champions: • Approximately 120 lineal feet of observation windows into the practice room • View into practice room from McCareins Auditorium in the Yordon Center • Lounge and display spaces
Athletic Features: • Full NCAA football playing field dimensions, 65’ clear height at center field and 45’ clear height at the sidelines • Artificial turf to match the Huskie Stadium surface • Four-lane sprint track with resilient surface • Batting cages • Long jump pit • Play clock system • Retractable center net to allow multi-sport use • Field goals and wall protection nets
Mechanical and “Green” features: • White roof for cooling and reduction of “heat island” effect • Translucent wall panels provide daylighting without hot spots • Direct/indirect energy efficient lighting • Sensors progressively turn off fixtures according to available natural light • In the practice room, heat is captured high in the ceiling cavity and re-circulated in the winter and exhausted in the summer • An innovative ventilation system moves air at the play level using natural convection and prevailing winds augmented as needed by high volume fans
The 16 coaches at Northern Illinois University bring a wealth of knowledge, unbridled enthusiasm and a passion for their studentathletes and the sports they coach. They are all dedicated to NIU Athletics’ mission to Develop Champions – In the Classroom, In Competition and In Life. In addition to the success achieved on the fields of play, all 17 NIU sports programs have exceeded the academic standards measured by the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate for the seventh consecutive year. The coaches at NIU are certainly “Leaders of the Pack.”
In his first season as head football coach at Northern Illinois University, Dave Doeren and his Huskies achieved milestones rarely reached over the course of a career, let alone a single season. Doeren’s first year saw NIU win the school’s first Mid-American Conference Championship since 1983, triumph in the GoDaddy.com Bowl and close out the year with nine straight victories en route to tying the school record with 11 wins. Doeren became the winningest first-year head football coach in school history.
The Northern Illinois University basketball programs took major steps forward in 2011-12 as both programs won first round MAC Tournament games to advance to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Second-year head coach Kathi Bennett and the women’s basketball team made a run in the tourney, defeating Western Michigan in a first round contest to advance to Cleveland. The Huskies won their first game at Quicken Loans Arena in dramatic fashion when Kim Davis hit a game-winning shot with six seconds left to defeat Akron and advance to the quarterfinals. Mark Montgomery’s first season as head coach of the Huskie men’s basketball team was filled with its share of challenges. While there were fewer wins than losses, each victory was a big piece in “Monty’s” rebuilding plan. No win was bigger for Northern Illinois than its 55-52 triumph over Eastern Michigan in the first round of the 2012 MAC Men’s Basketball Tournament. The victory was the first on the road for the Huskies, their first MAC Tournament win since 2003 and sent NIU to Cleveland.
Three new head coaches – John Ross, Christina Sutcliffe and Kim Kester – have joined the Huskie family for 2012-13. All three have Midwest ties, while Sutcliffe and Kester bring an intimate knowledge of the Mid-American Conference. Ross, a native of Elmhurst, Ill. has taken over the reins of the NIU women’s soccer program after spending nine seasons at North Dakota State. A Crown Point, Ind. native, Sutcliffe brings 11 years of collegiate coaching experience and MAC softball expertise to the NIU program. She spent the last seven seasons as an assistant coach at perennial league power Miami University. Kester, NIU’s new women’s golf, boasts strong MAC ties having been a stellar player and an assistant coach at Toledo. A native of Grand Rapids, Mich., Kester brings a new outlook to the Huskie women’s golf program.
Patrick Fisher led the NIU men’s tennis team to its first Mid-American Conference title when the Huskies claimed a share of the 2012 MAC regular season championship. The fourth-year head coach guided the Huskies to a 21-6 overall record, the school’s first 20-win season since 1989, and a 4-1 league mark. Fisher spent the past three seasons building the Huskie men’s tennis program from the ground up before claiming MAC hardware in his fourth NIU campaign.
Following the Huskies from near and far has never been easier as the Northern Illinois brand continues to grow across the region and across the country. In 2011-12, with more than 75 NIU Athletics events streamed live online, fans enjoyed broadcasts of all football and men’s basketball games, along with weekly “Inside Huskie Football” and “NIU Weekly” radio shows. In addition, the explosion of social media and wall-to-wall NIUHuskies.com coverage expanded dramatically. Twelve Huskie football games, five men’s basketball and one women’s hoops contest appeared on seven different broadcast platforms last year. Northern Illinois’ exciting 63-60 football victory over Toledo on ESPN2 in November helped coin the term “MACtion” describing the fast-paced, exciting brand of football found in the MidAmerican Conference. To maintain its footprint in the Chicago area, NIU continued its partnership with 670 AM “The Score” and Comcast SportsNet Chicago in 2011-12. A 50,000-watt radio station that reaches 38 states, “The Score” carried NIU football games and select men’s basketball games, while CSN Chicago’s football game broadcast reached millions of homes in Illinois, Iowa, northwest Indiana and southern Wisconsin. From features to game stories, the Huskies received excellent coverage from the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times and locally from the Daily Chronicle and Northern Star throughout the year.
Northern Illinois University Athletics entered a new era with widespread usage of social media to publicize its 17 sport programs and engage with fans in 2011-12. With over 116 NIU Athletics videos uploaded to YouTube last year, Twitter invading the national consciousness and almost a billion people connecting with each other on Facebook, NIU Athletics is connecting with fans, alumni and recruits via multiple social media platforms.
Northern Illinois Athletics maintains its strong presence in Chicago and the Midwest in part due to its continuing relationships with Comcast SportsNet Chicago and 670 AM The Score through its multimedia rightholder, IMG College. Comcast SportNet Chicago annually broadcasts a Huskie football game, and often picks up NIU basketball broadcasts as well. The Score has served as the Chicago radio home of Huskie football and men’s basketball games for the past seven years and carries “NIU Weekly,” a half-hour program dedicated to NIU Athletics.
In early April, members of the athletic department collaborated to produced a video that incorporated student-athletes from all 17 Northern Illinois teams, Victor E. Huskie and its facility, the Yordon Center. The result was the “NIU Athletics Lip Dub,” a video that reached viral proportions in just 24 hours and is the Huskies’ most watched YouTube video ever. With student-athletes home for the summer and website content thin, #NIUSocialSummer was born. Each day featured a different theme allowing fans to comment and interact with NIU Athletics. The social media phenomenon is not limited to Huskie athletic programs. NIU Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Jeff Compher has embraced social media through his Twitter handle @NIUADCompher. NIU Athletics plans to build on the success of #NIUSocialSummer and continue to engage and inform fans in the evolving world of social media.
Troy White, a member of the NIU baseball team and a Jackie Robinson Scholar, received a mention in a Sports Illustrated story celebrating the 65th anniversary of Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier.
Thanks to the Mid-American Conference’s agreement with ESPN, as well as NIU’s relationship with Comcast SportsNet Chicago, Northern Illinois enjoyed another outstanding season of television coverage in 2011-12. The Huskie football team appeared on the ESPN family of networks 10 times, while CSN Chicago and Fox College Sports also aired Northern Illinois games, giving NIU 12 broadcast games in 2011.
NIU’s Athletics teams weren’t the only ones garnering national attention in 2011-12. The NIU Athletics Media Relations Office was honored as a “Super 11” sports information department by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). The honor recognized the top 11 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) departments in the nation for 2011.
The NIU basketball teams benefitted from the league’s TV agreement with Sportstime Ohio, with six combined television appearances. The men’s team was on STO three times, including its MAC Tournament game with Western Michigan, which was also shown on ESPN3. CSN Chicago and ESPN3 picked up the NIU women’s basketball game at Eastern Michigan, which was broadcast throughout the region by STO.