Jeff Compher, a veteran collegiate athletics administrator with a documented history of developing champions in the classroom, in competition and in life, is in his third year instilling 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 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 has already delivered 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.
The final fundraising phase of the Smith-Williams Basketball Practice Facility and the initial launch of the department’s Undaunted Strategic Plan were all completed under his direction during the 2013-14 academic year. In addition, Compher’s first season of competition in Greenville was notable as the Pirate football program rolled to their second-highest victory total in school history, both basketball teams advanced to postseason play and the track and field squad captured Conference USA indoor and outdoor titles.
A year later he provided a guiding and supportive hand during East Carolina’s inaugural campaign in the American Athletic Conference, which was highlighted by league championships in men’s swimming and baseball. Cliff Godwin, who was Compher’s first ECU head coaching hire, brought a high level of intensity and excitement back to Clark-LeClair Stadium during his debut as the Pirates’ skipper – capping a 40-win season with a NCAA Regional appearance in 2015.
Despite his brief time in The American, Compher’s executive leadership qualities were quickly recognized and valued by his colleagues who elected him as Chairman of the Athletic Directors Committee for 2016.
Compher's appointment at East Carolina ended a five-year tenure as associate vice president and director of athletics at Northern Illinois University.
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. His department also had seven Academic All-America selections, two National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes, an NCAA Woman-of-the-Year finalist and three NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners.
NIU's success in the venues 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.
The Northern Illinois football team won its second-straight MAC crown in 2012 and became the first Mid-American Conference team to play in the Bowl Championship Series by gaining a berth in the Discover Orange Bowl.
An 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 15 years. Similar to his arrival at ECU, he led the development of a strategic plan in his first year at NIU in 2008, defining the mission, vision and values of the department while establishing goals and objectives for each unit.
His administrative efforts were recognized with his selection as one of four FBS Athletics Director-of-the-Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) in the summer of 2013.
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, 57, 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.