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 Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher
Huskie Fans!

Huskie fans had their chance to question Northern Illinois Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher during a live chat with the leader the Huskie athletic program on Thursday, March 19. Compher answered your questions in a "chat" on www.niuhuskies.com.

Moderator: Hi Everyone! Welcome to the first chat with NIU Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher. We have a lot of good questions already and we'll get to as many of them as we can, but keep on sending your questions in. Jeff will be here shortly and we'll get started.

Kevin Reeve (Palatine, IL): When will the 2009 NIU football schedule be released? When will NIU get a big BCS school to play in DeKalb, rather than Chicago?
Jeff Compher: Hi Kevin, I anticipated I would get some questions about the schedule and actually contacted MAC Commissioner Rick Chryst today to see when they may be able to release the schedule. Actually, a lot of our schedule is related to other league's schedules around the country and there are still some final touches that have to be put on not only our schedule but also on those other leagues' schedules before they can be released. We are hoping to have that completed by next week sometime, but no promises because there could be surprises that no one is aware of at this time.

Eric (Warrenville): We gave away our one chance to get a quality non-conference team in Huskie Stadium this year by forfeiting our home game against Wisconsin. What quality non-conference opponents do we have lined up to come to Huskie Stadium in the future? Many other MAC schools are getting quality non-conference teams into their stadium. Until Navy last season we hadn't seen a quality non-conference opponent since 2003.
Jeff Compher: Thanks for writing Eric, I'm glad you asked that question. It might be best for me to first explain our scheduling philosophy and then I can relate some information about other teams. FIrst of all, we try and have two games with BCS teams each year. We are always hopeful that one of those games could be played at Huskie Stadium. In addition to that we try and establish a home and home schedule with another non-BCS league or team such as we have done with Idaho, Navy and our upcoming series with Army. Then we try and have a home game with a FCS (previously I-AA) team for our non-conference schedule. All of this is done in consultation with Coach Kill and nothing is finalized without a mutual agreement between he and I on the teams we play. We are having conversations with BCS level teams that may be willing to come to DeKalb, but I can't go into more detail than that other than to let you k now that that is a priority for Coach Kill and for me. We hope to have some good news on the scheduling front in 2009.
Jeff Compher: John, I have Memphis in my bracket (purely for fun of course) and I hope they do! There's a lot of time left.

John (Sycamore): Is Memphis going to pull out this first game?

Joe (Philadelphia): While the MAC is not where the Mountain West Conference is in terms of football strength, do you support the MWC idea for a playoff or shake up of the BCS?
Jeff Compher: Joe - Thanks for checking in from Philly. I do not support the Mountain West Conference idea for a playoff. I believe that the BCS agreement that was formed with the non automatic qualifying conferences including the MAC, was fair and that we all agreed to abide by that. I hope that we can continue to enhance our football strength by getting more at-large teams in the BCS as was the case in the past two years with Hawaii and Utah.

Tim (Chicago): Hello Jeff, Big huskie athletics follower. My question is with regards to football, any progress on an indoor practice facility or plans on stadium renovations at this point?
Jeff Compher: Tim, thanks for your support of Huskie athletics. To answer your question, if you've had a chance to read our strategic plan, you'll see that we have stated our desire to have a plan in place for an indoor facility within the next three years. We understand that the university has various academic priorities that they must fulfill and that the economic times may not suit a full scale project at this time. However, we are hopeful to have the plans completed to begin the project whenever the climate for fundraising and construction gets better. As far as stadium renovations, the project that is most likely to occur as early as this spring is the replacement of our FieldTurf. We are hopeful that this will take place as soon after spring football as possible.

Brett (DeKalb): As far as I know, the NIU Pep Band, and all of the other MAC basketball bands for that matter, were not permitted to attend the first round of the MAC Tournament in Cleveland this year. Do you know who made that ruling and why it was made?
Jeff Compher: Brett, this decision was made as a way to ease the financial costs of the tournament for the schools in a tough economic time. I am personally hopeful that this will be a temporary solution to the economic dilemma. Having a collegiate atmosphere at our conference tournament is extremely important as it is for all of our home games. Our Pep Band, Silverettes and spirit groups do a great job and our teams certainly missed them in Cleveland this year.

Scott, B.A. '92, J.D. '95: With the current economic downturn, a number of Div. 1 schools are cutting programs (bowling Green may cut the Men's Hockey Team) or even discussing the possibility of downgrading from D-1. Please Verbalize our obvious commitment to staying D-1 in all sports, and our plans to increase competitiveness at this level. Thanks for your time.
Jeff Compher: Scott, Good question. There have been a number of programs throughout the country at the highest level and at the mid-major level who are considering ways to save resources and cut costs. You are correct in your assumption that we have a commitment to staying Division I in all sports and we do plan to increase our competitiveness at this level for all of our sports. We are fortunate to have new facilities such as the Yordon Center and our new track and field/soccer complex on line that we are already seeing an upturn in recruiting and an opportunity to have more home events.

Jeff (Chicago): Why do we continue to play these in State Division 1 AA (FCS) teams annually in Football? We have nothing to gain. Have we tried to get a WAC or Conference USA team for a 1 for 1?
Jeff Compher: Hey Jeff - good name. As I mentioned before, these games are a part of our scheduling philosophy and many schools are scheduling games with FCS schools now that we have gone to 12 games. We are in conversations with schools from those conferences in regard to a home and home series.

Kim (DeKalb): Can you schedule more weekend Basketball Double Headers with the Women and Men Teams next year?
Jeff Compher: Hi Kim - It sounds like you like the doubleheader concept and it certainly seemed to help with our crowd. We're always open to scheduling doubleheaders and I wondered if any of you have an idea as to what time the basketball games should be on the weekends. We've gone back and forth in our department as to the best game times for our fans, both on doubleheader and single game days, so if you have some feedback on that, I would love to hear it.

J Rey (OP): Jeff, Are there any improvements planned for Ralph McKinzie Field
Jeff Compher: J Rey - This is the perfect opportunity to talk about our first home series out at Ralph McKinzie Field this weekend with Buffalo. It looks like the weather will be pretty good and the Huskies are glad to be at home. As far as improvements, we have recently replaced all of the sod for Ralph McKinzie Field in both the infield and outfield, and have reworked our infield. As far as other improvements go, there's obviously a desire for lights that we would like to see in the future as well as other upgrades. All of our soprts, including baseball, would certainly benefit from an indoor practice facility, especially the fact that we were not able to get outside before we took our first road trip of the year to Mississippi State.

Jake (Sycamore): Hello Jeff; Are we going to see more landscaping completed around Huskie stadium? It looks pretty bare.
Jeff Compher: Hi Jake, The area around Huskie Stadium is very important to the image of our program. Last year, several bushes were taken out along Stadium Drive South and we're hoping to get some new plantings in there at some point soon. I will work with our Building and Grounds as well as our Convocation Center staff to see where other improvements may be made. Everyone wants to the facility to look its best. If you have any specific ideas, let us know!

Jim (Lawndale): Will there be a 14th team in the MAC for football?
Jeff Compher: Hi Jim, Now that we have new commissioner, I'm sure that discussion will take place. However, I doubt anything will happen very quickly in that regard. There would need to be some sort of a shake-up in another conference for there to be a team available and those take time to work themselves out. I'm not even sure there is consensus among our coaches, ADs and presidents that a 14th team is the way we want to go.

mike (Lemont): Jeff; Are there going to be selected tailgating events prior to Men's basketball game next year?
Jeff Compher: Mike! That's what I like about Northern Illinois fans, they are HEARTY and always ready for a good tailgate! I'm not aware of any plans for tailgating for basketball but if there is a strong desire to do this, we could look at the possibilities, maybe moving it to an indoor venue prior to the game may be our best option.

Jerry (DeKalb): Do you think the economic woes will affect the Athletic Department in anyway? Also, how much love did you show for Washington in your bracket?
Jeff Compher: Hi Jerry, The economy has affected nearly everything that we do in that costs have gone up for travel, equipment, scholarships, but last year we were fortunate to raise a record amount of money through our HASF contributions. Those dollars allowed us to sustain our competitiveness and operational levels for this year. However, we are concerned that next year may be a greater challenge. We remain confident that our fans and supporters will continue to invest in our program. As for my bracket, I have U-dub losing to my Midwest favorite team, Purdue, and I ask for forgiveness from my Seattle friends.
Jeff Compher: Hi Jerry, The economy has affected nearly everything that we do in that costs have gone up for travel, equipment, scholarships, but last year we were fortunate to raise a record amount of money through our HASF contributions. Those dollars allowed us to sustain our competitiveness and operational levels for this year. However, we are concerned that next year may be a greater challenge. We remain confident that our fans and supporters will continue to invest in our program. As for my bracket, I have U-dub losing to my Midwest favorite team, Purdue, and I ask for forgiveness from my Seattle friends.

Jim (Lisle): Hello Jeff; Are we changing the team uniforms for football?
Jeff Compher: Hi Jim, I haven't heard of any changes planned for our team uniforms. I think this is something Coach Kill and I would have discussed.

John from Chemung: what out of conference men's basketball teams are on the schedule for 2009-10? any openings still?
Jeff Compher: Hi John, So far, for our men's basketball schedule next year we have Illinois and Minnesota as major non-conference opponents, we also have a return game from Tennessee State and we will be playing in the city at Chicago State and at UIC. The schedule is still a work in progress but hopefully we'll have the non-conference schedule out early this summer.
Jeff Compher: To everyone who has participated in today's chat, I had a lot of fun and appreciate your thoughtful questions. ALthough I didn't get to everyone, I tried to answer those that were the most popular topics. We're always open to feedback and ideas, as well as questions you may have. I plan to do this again soon and GO HUSKIES!
Moderator: Thanks again to all who sent questions and participated. Please continue to come back to niuhuskies.com for all the latest news and statistics on Northern Illinois Athletics!