Illinois State University (ISU) seeks an experienced, energetic and collaborative leader to join a successful and thriving intercollegiate athletic department and serve as its next athletic director (AD).
Founded in 1857, Illinois State is the oldest public university in the state. Located in Normal, 125 miles southwest of Chicago, ISU hosts a diverse community of scholars committed to fostering a small college atmosphere with large university opportunities. Illinois State's mission is based on a shared set of core values: individualized attention, integrity, learning and scholarship, collaboration, respect, diversity and inclusion and civic engagement. Students at Illinois State find rigorous academic programs that challenge them to be their best and a welcoming and supportive campus atmosphere that helps them grow and mature as scholars, citizens and leaders. It has a total enrollment of 20,720 students (17,987 undergraduate and 2,733 graduate) situated on a 1,111 acre campus.
For over 100 years, the Illinois State Athletics Department has established a rich tradition of competitive excellence, sportsmanship and equality. Approximately 450 student athletes compete in 19 sports, (eight men's and 11 women's) primarily in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). The football team competes in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, men’s tennis in the Summit League, and gymnastics in the Midwest Independent Conference. The Redbirds have won nine team and individual national championships, more than 160 MVC league titles and hundreds of All-American honors. Student-athletes have also found success in the classroom, averaging a 3.61 GPA during the spring 2020 semester. In 2019, 13 of 15 Redbird teams recorded a GSR greater than the national average in their respective sport. Nine teams achieved a perfect 100% GSR. Led by the award winning Red Alert student section, Illinois State is home to one of the toughest places to play in the Midwest. Welcoming fans to the Redbird Arena is a statue honoring Illinois State basketball greats, Will Robinson and Doug Collins. Will Robinson was the first African-American head basketball coach in NCAA Division I history, and Doug Collins was the first overall pick in the 1973 NBA Draft.
Reporting directly to the president, the athletic director will be expected to lead and manage a team of approximately 175 coaches and staff while supporting the academic and athletic activities of its student-athletes. The successful candidate will manage an operating budget of approximately $22 million and related facility accounts while identifying and securing new resources in support of the department's 19 sports. The incoming athletic director should be a seasoned fundraiser who is comfortable serving externally as an advocate, spokesperson and leader within the community and region. The athletic director should be knowledgeable about current local, national and industry trends, NCAA transfer and compliance issues, and other related topics and best practices that will impact the future of Redbird athletics. The athletic director will be expected to create a clear and compelling department-wide strategic plan and vision, while ensuring its goals and objectives are aligned with the University's goals and objectives. It will be important for the next AD to lead, manage and develop action-oriented initiatives, strategies and tactics that support and inspire diversity, equity and inclusion. Finally, the director will be expected to engage with alumni, donors, volunteers, fans, industry executives and other external stakeholders to advance the department's goals and objectives by creating awareness, building relationships and ultimately generating resource support for the department.
Qualified candidates should have the experience and knowledge necessary to lead an NCAA Division I department of intercollegiate athletics of comparable scope and size with a focus on both academic and athletic excellence. The athletic director should be a trustworthy collaborator with an outstanding record of judgement, decision-making and integrity. The successful candidate should be skilled at media and public relations and positively contribute to the overall reputation and image of the athletic department and the University. The athletic director should possess strong marketing and communications skills, an ability to advance and secure philanthropic and corporate partnerships and serve as a visible ambassador for the University to external communities. Furthermore, the athletic director should be knowledgeable about and have strong skills in budget management, conference and NCAA compliance issues, crisis management and communication, and trends related to fan experience and engagement. For more information, please visit www.wittkieffer.com.
For more information on ISU athletics, please visit https://goredbirds.com/index.aspx.
All applications, nominations and inquiries are invited. Applications should include, as separate documents, a CV or resume and a letter of interest addressing the themes in this profile. WittKieffer is assisting Illinois State University in this search. The position will remain open until filled. Applications materials should be submitted using WittKieffer's candidate portal.
Nominations and inquiries can be directed to:
Jeff Compher, Zachary A. Smith, Ph.D. and Kim Brettschneider
Illinois State University, as an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, complies with all applicable federal and state laws regarding affirmative action, nondiscrimination, and anti-harassment. Illinois State University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, order of protection, gender identity and expression, ancestry, age, marital status, disability, genetic information, unfavorable military discharge, or status as a veteran in employment, educational programs and activities, or admissions.