Jeff Compher, a veteran collegiate athletics administrator with a documented history of developing champions in the classroom, in competition and in life, will now instill that vision of unparalleled broad-based success in a leadership role at East Carolina University.
Beginning with his first day on campus as ECU's Director of Athletics in April, 2013, Compher has engaged student-athletes, coaches, staff and the Pirate Nation to embrace the role of moving forward and proactively plan for the challenges of the future. His return to the state of North Carolina promises a foundation centered around the student-athlete experience, a deliberate focus on winning with integrity and an aggressive plan to promote the ECU Pirate brand and its values.
Compher's appointment at East Carolina, which was officially announced March 6, ended a five-year tenure as associate vice president and director of athletics at Northern Illinois University.
"Jeff Compher is a proven leader in moving an entire athletic department forward," ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard said at the time of the hire. "He has great values, great experience and national recognition among his peers. We are delighted he is a Pirate."
Under Compher's direction, Huskie student-athletes excelled academically as all 17 of NIU's intercollegiate programs surpassed the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate every year during his stay at the DeKalb school that featured an enrollment of 22,000. Northern Illinois' football team ranked among the Top 12 nationally in APR in each of his last four years, while the department also had seven Academic All-America selections, two National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes, an NCAA Woman-of-the-Year finalist and an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winner in the last three years.
NIU's success in the arenas of competition mirrored those in the classroom as the Huskies captured a school-record four Mid-American Conference Championships in 2011-12 with football, men's soccer and volleyball bringing home titles in the fall, and men's tennis securing the league crown in the spring.
His football program won its second-straight MAC crown in 2012 and, after posting 12 consecutive triumphs following a season-opening loss, became the first Mid-American Conference team to play in the Bowl Championship Series by earning a berth in the Discover Orange Bowl. The New Year's Day matchup against Florida State marked NIU's fifth-straight bowl appearance and capped a three-year run of campaigns that featured 11 or more victories.
His emphasis on long-range planning and the ability to work with constituencies within and outside the university community have become well-known staples of Compher's administrative and leadership skills over the past 14 years. Upon his arrival at NIU in 2008, he led the development of a strategic plan which defined the mission, vision and values of the department while establishing goals and objectives for each unit. After achieving many of those standards three years later, the Huskies revised and refined the plan to meet different challenges and changing times.
Compher arrived at NIU after nearly four years at the University of Washington, where he served as executive associate athletic director and was responsible for the general management and daily operations of the department. Prior to his move to the Pacific Northwest, Compher led the athletics program at Southern Conference member Western Carolina University from 2000 to 2004.
While he put his own distinct fingerprint on capital projects, facility renovations and fundraising at NIU with the construction of the school's new indoor training center and record-breaking annual gift levels, Compher was directly involved with successful similar entities at both UW and WCU.
As associate and then senior associate athletic director at Vanderbilt University for four years, Compher directed nearly every area of the department, including external affairs from 1998 to 2000. Prior to that, he oversaw NCAA compliance, academic support, strength and conditioning, equipment and CHAMPS/Life Skills areas for the Commodores.
Compher spent 13 years in several different positions at North Carolina State University. As the Wolfpack's assistant athletic director from 1986 to 1992, he managed the student-athlete support services units, established the first life skills program and handled scheduling for the football and men's basketball teams. He was the assistant to the chancellor at NC State before moving back into athletics administration after relocating to Nashville.
His first position in collegiate administration was at NC State, where he was the assistant director of Housing and Residence Life from 1982 to 1986.
Throughout his career, Compher has continued his education, participating in the NACDA Management Institute (1998), the Sports Management Institute Executive Program (1998-99) and the Division I-A Athletic Directors' Institute (2005 and 2006).
Compher, 54, earned his bachelor's degree in psychology from James Madison (Va.) University, where he was a football student-athlete, in 1980, and graduated with a master's degree in counseling and student personnel services from Shippensburg (Pa.) University in 1982.
He and his wife Cathy have two sons - C.J. and David.