March 20, 2009
DeKALB, Ill. - Christian Spears, a veteran collegiate athletics administrator who has spent the past five years as an assistant athletic director at Southern Illinois University, will join Northern Illinois University as Senior Associate Athletic Director for Administration and Academic/Enrollment Services, NIU Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher announced Friday.
Spears' duties at Northern Illinois will include oversight of the NCAA Compliance unit, and coordination with NIU's Student-Athlete Academic Support Services (S.A.A.S.S.) and key offices on campus, including admissions, financial aid and enrollment services. He will supervise several sports programs and will serve on Compher's executive staff. He will play a leadership role for the university in the area of NCAA Academic Progress Rate and Graduation Success Rate, not only in compiling data and preparing appropriate documents, but also in projecting future rates
"We are pleased to welcome Christian to the Huskie family," Compher said. "He brings extensive experience in the compliance and enrollment services areas and will be a huge asset to our department in serving as a liaison to offices on campus that are critical to the success of our student-athletes. He has a background which uniquely qualifies him for this position."
Northern Illinois Vice Provost Earl "Gip" Seaver said that Spears' expertise will impact not only the athletic department, but many areas of the university.
"Christian's position is unique in college athletics in that he has responsibilities in both the athletics department and in academic affairs," Seaver said. "He brings experience that will help facilitate communication and increase the effectiveness of both areas."
At Southern Illinois, Spears' responsibilities included directing the Athletic Compliance, Athletic Financial Aid and Athletic/Academic Eligibility Offices and serving as sport administrator for men's and women's track and field and cross country. He increased communication with various constituencies, including high schools, and developed strategies to improve the Salukis' recruiting and outreach efforts.
Spears, who previously served as assistant director of compliance at Harvard University (2002-2003) and as assistant director of marketing at Long Beach State University (1997-99), earned a law degree from Ohio State in 2002. While at OSU, he worked in the athletic department as the Big Ten Minority Intern.
A native of Pasadena, Calif., Spears said he was looking forward to getting started at NIU.
"I am genuinely excited to join Jeff Compher and the NIU staff," Spears said. "It was obvious to me during the interview process that NIU is a special place with great coaches and administrators and student-athletes who perform at a high level both academically and athletically. In addition, I think the direction Jeff is taking with the strategic plan is exciting and ambitious and I look forward to contributing to that initiative. I will dedicate myself to zealously representing our coaches, administrators and student-athletes, and I will work diligently to ensure we have continued success."
Spears earned his bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Washington in 1996 and a master's in public administration from Long Beach State University in 1998. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the National Association for Athletics Compliance (NAAC) and serves as chair of the NAAC's Education and Professional Standards Committee.
He will begin his duties at Northern Illinois on April 8.
-- NIU -