Frazier's Corner: January 8

GO HUSKIES NIU Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Sean T. Frazier.
NIU Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Sean T. Frazier.

Jan. 8, 2014

Dear Huskie Athletics donors, season ticket holders, alumni, and supporters,

I would like to take this opportunity to update Huskie Nation on the status of our NIU Athletics programs. As I complete my first semester as the Director of Athletics I want to give you my state of the program.

New Hires (Huskies Joining the NIU Family)

I am continually looking to provide our student-athletes and fans with the best possible experiences here at NIU. In order to do that, I need to make sure that we hire and retain great people. I know that I have done that with these new additions to the NIU Family. My first hire at NIU was to name Ryan Sedevie to my senior staff as Associate Athletic Director for Advancement and External Affairs. He will oversee Marketing, Licensing, Ticketing, Media Relations, and sport oversight of the men's and women's golf programs. He will also serve as the liaison to NIU Multimedia rights holder, IMG, the NIU Band, and cheerleading. I worked with Ryan while I was at the University of Wisconsin and I knew that he would be a great fit here at NIU. Having been at Wisconsin for 18 years, Ryan has a tremendous background in the external side of things ranging from Marketing and Licensing to Development and Ticketing. He also had a great deal of experience in the fan experience and engagement side as well. Also joining me on my senior staff will be John Cheney. John will serve as Senior Associate Athletic Director for Facilities and Event Operations. John comes to us from Oregon State University and brings a significant amount of experience in the areas of facility planning and event operations to the table. These areas are critical to the mission our administration has for NIU. John will be responsible for maintaining and improving the Huskies' athletic facilities. Additionally, he will coordinate all capital improvement projects and building renovations, along with leading the athletic facilities and operations staff. He will also be assigned sport administrator duties at a later date. My final addition to NIU at this time was James Ericson. James will serve as the Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing and Game Experience and he comes to us from the Ohio State University.  James spent six years at Ohio State working with several different sports such as football, field hockey, men's soccer, men's and women's ice hockey, men's and women's basketball, men's volleyball, men's and women's lacrosse, rowing, fencing and track and field. James has a considerable amount of experience in event management side of things and I felt that by bringing him to NIU we could improve our game day atmosphere at Huskie Stadium and the Convocation Center. I am excited to welcome Ryan, John, James and their families to our Huskie family.

Jordan Lynch’s Heisman Run

Heading into the 2013 football season, many felt Jordan Lynch had to repeat the incredible 2012 campaign he put together to earn an invitation to New York City as a Heisman Trophy finalist. Not only did he meet those expectations, he surpassed them. The Chicago native rushed for 1,920 yards and 23 touchdowns, and passed for 2,892 yards and 24 TDs becoming just the fifth player in FBS history to have 20 rushing and 20 passing touchdowns in the same season. He set the NCAA record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a game with 321 yards against Western Michigan on Senior Night, breaking the previous record of 316 he set against Central Michigan earlier in the season. Lynch also set the NCAA record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a season with 1,920 yards, breaking his previous record of 1,815 yards from 2012. He became the first player in NCAA history to rush for 300 yards and pass for 150 in the same game when he rushed for 316 yards and passed for 155 at Central Michigan. Tossing tacklers off his back, leaping through the air to score a touchdown or simply running over defenders, Lynch will be remembered for the way he achieved his amazing numbers. By placing third in the Heisman balloting he earned the highest finish ever by a player from the Mid-American Conference. NIU is extremely proud of Jordan and what he has accomplished. He is a great leader and model student-athlete. I'm happy for Jordan, his family and our coaching staff. To be recognized as a finalist for one of the greatest trophies in sports is a testament to Jordan's dedication, hard work and abilities, and is a tremendous accomplishment for our football program and for NIU.

NIU Football's Historic Season

The only team in the nation to win seven road games, the NIU football team opened the season at Iowa under the blazing heat and closed it with an appearance in the Poinsettia Bowl on a beautiful night in San Diego. In between, records were broken and milestones were achieved. The Huskies posted the first undefeated regular season as a major college program, recorded a second-straight 12-win campaign, became the first MAC school to knock off two Big Ten teams on the road in the same season, won a fourth-straight MAC West Division title, earned a sixth-consecutive bowl appearance and boasted the first Heisman Trophy finalist in school history. NIU, which spent 11 weeks in the Top 25 in at least one poll in 2013, extended its consecutive road winning streak to 15 and consecutive wins at its home stadium to 26, both of which lead the nation in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Safety Jimmie Ward and Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch both earned first team All-America honors, marking the first time two Huskies have earned the honor in the same season, as they led the winningest senior class in NIU football history.

NIU Scheduling

Scheduling is driven by relationships. While most of the contracts for 2014 football non-conference games were in place when I arrived at NIU, I really tried to schedule quality match-ups for our program that will enable us to showcase NIU. My scheduling philosophy across all our sports will be to promote the NIU brand regionally and nationally. I will continue to work hard to bring attractive non-conference opponents to all our venues and to have our programs extend their reach throughout the country. Scheduling will play a huge part in taking this program to the next level.

Academic Success – Highlights & National Rankings

For the second consecutive year, Northern Illinois University posted a new high in graduation rates of its student-athletes according to the Graduation Success Rate report from the National Collegiate Athletic Association. NIU's latest overall Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 85 percent tied with Miami (Ohio) for the best mark in the Mid-American Conference and ranked four percentage points higher than the national Division I average. NIU's previous best was last year's 83 percent mark and this year's report marks the sixth consecutive year the Huskies' GSR has topped 80 percent. I am very pleased to see our Graduation Success Rate rank among the best in the MAC and for several of our programs, among the best in the country. Graduation is the name of the game, and to see the proof in the numbers that NIU student-athletes are leaving with their degrees is a tribute to our student-athletes, our coaches and staff, and also to the NIU faculty and the many people on campus who we rely on for support. The challenge once you have success as good as ours is to keep it going even higher, and that's exactly what we intend to do.

IHSA Recap Quick Facts & Thank You to DeKalb

The IHSA Football Championships were held at Huskie Stadium on November 29th and 30th.  This was the first time NIU hosted these championships in DeKalb.  Over 30,000 people visited Huskie Stadium during the two day event with thousands more visiting the surrounding communities. In my previous experiences these championships have a tremendous economic impact for the surrounding communities ranging from hotels and restaurants to retail outlets. All feedback that I have received from the administration at the IHSA has been nothing short of glowing reviews and excitement to continue this partnership. It not only showcased NIU, but the communities of DeKalb and Sycamore. I cannot thank the nearly 300 volunteers from both the DeKalb and Sycamore communities enough for helping to make this event a huge success. It shows the true "Communiversity" spirit that we are looking to foster here at NIU.

Next Big Facility Plan

At NIU, we need to bring facilities up to date in order to remain competitive. A mentor of mine, Barry Alvarez said, "When universities put up new buildings on campus, they call it progress. When we do it in athletics, it's called an arms race." If we want to continue our climb up the mountain of intercollegiate athletics, we need to invest and upgrade our facilities. We have an amazing new indoor facility in the Chessick Practice Center. We need to continue that momentum. I am calling for us to have a facilities master plan put together in the near future that will serve as a springboard for our next big facility campaign.

Attendance at Athletic Events and Importance of Season Ticket Sales

Season ticket sales are the lifeblood of athletic programs. We had a record-breaking year for football season ticket sales with over 4,000 sold. You are a big part of our game day atmosphere and we need that to continue. We also need you at our venues to support all our athletic programs. Please take the time to commit to NIU in 2014. We have a great football non-conference game on the road in nearby Evanston versus Northwestern in 2014. Patrons who order season tickets will get the right to request the Northwestern game prior to the general public single game on sale date. I hope that you are looking forward to the 2014 Football season as much as I am.

Communication is Key

I believe that communication is an extremely important factor to have success. That is true not only in athletics, but in life. My plan is to have regular communication with our fans and supporters throughout the seasons. It will come in the form of emails, face-to-face interactions, letters, phone calls, and on "Frazier's Corner." My commitment to everyone is to try and have a regular column posted to keep you updated on what is happening within NIU Athletics.

Thank You for Your Support

My time at NIU has been outstanding so far. I have always said that what makes a place special are the people involved. NIU is a truly special place that has a tremendous fan base and terrific people guiding our student-athletes. Our athletic programs have accomplished a lot on the fields of competition and also in the classroom. I expect this success to continue and grow. I have a clear vision of where I want all our programs to be. I want to thank all of our supporters for their commitment and passion to NIU Athletics. I look forward to building on these relationships to enhance everyone's experiences at NIU.

I'll see you all at our events and Go Huskies!

Sean T. Frazier

Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics


Below you will find a season recap for our fall sports and a brief snapshot of the winter sports that have started competition.

Volleyball (Head Coach Ray Gooden)
- Finished the season 19-13 and 10-6 in the MAC
- Advanced to the MAC Tournament semifinals for the fourth consecutive season
- Sarah Angelos and Mackenzie Roddy named First Team All-MAC
- Jenna Radtke and Mary Grace Kelly garnered MAC All-Freshman Team honors

Men's Soccer (Head Coach Eric Luzzi)
- Ended the year 4-13-1 and 0-5-1 in the MAC
- Isaac Kannah named to Second Team All-MAC

Women's Soccer (Head Coach John Ross)
- Posted a 6-11-3 overall record and a 4-5-2 mark in the MAC
- Advanced to the MAC Tournament for the second-straight season and went 6-1-1 in home matches

Cross Country (Head Coach Greg Hipp)
- Ended the season Nov. 2 with a 23rd-place finish at the NCAA Midwest Regional
- Placed 11th at the MAC Championships
- Earned a first-place team finish at the NIU Open Sept. 6

Men's Golf (Head Coach Tom Porten)
- Competed in five fall tournaments
- Ended the season with an 11th-place finish at the Pinetree Intercollegiate in Kennesaw, Ga.

Women's Golf (Head Coach Kim Kester)
- Competed in four tournaments in the fall
- Finished in the top 10 as a team at three tournaments

Men's Tennis (Head Coach Patrick Fisher)
- Competed in four fall tournaments
- Posted the best team score at the River Forest Invitational

Women's Tennis (Head Coach Ryun Ferrell)
- Appeared in four fall tournaments
- Claimed eight top-three finishes between singles and doubles play

Men's Basketball (Head Coach Mark Montgomery)
- Completed the non-conference portion of the schedule with a 6-6 record through 12 games in 2013-14
- Upcoming opponents: @ Buffalo (Jan. 8), @ Bowling Green (Jan. 12), vs. Kent State (Jan. 15)

Women's Basketball (Head Coach Kathi Bennett)
- Posted a 5-6 record through games of January 8 in 2013-14
- Upcoming opponents: @ Toledo (Jan. 9), vs. Eastern Michigan (Jan. 12), @ Central Michigan (Jan. 15)

Wrestling (Head Coach Ryan Ludwig)
- Possesses a 4-5 dual record with wins against Clarion, Findlay, Cleveland State, and SIU Edwardsville
- Tyler Argue placed 8th at prestigious Midlands Championships, first Huskie to place since 2010
- Placed five wrestlers at the Michigan State Open

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