Jeff Compher, associate vice president and director of athletics at Northern Illinois University with a record of academic success and winning championships, has been selected as the new athletics director at East Carolina University.
Compher was introduced Wednesday during a news conference at the Murphy Center on East Carolina’s campus.
“Jeff Compher is a proven leader in moving an entire athletic department forward,” said ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard. “He has great values, great experience, and national recognition among his peers. We are delighted he is a Pirate.”
Compher has agreed to a five-year contract with ECU and will begin his duties May 1.
"I would like to thank the search committee, the members of the Board of Trustees, and especially Chancellor Ballard for this outstanding opportunity to lead the ECU Athletics Department,” Compher said.
“I believe ECU is poised for greatness and I am thrilled to be a part of the Pirate Nation. North Carolina has always been home for our family and the city of Greenville holds a special place in our hearts. We look forward to getting to know the student-athletes, coaches and staff as well as the many fans and supporters of ECU athletics.”
Robert Lucas, chairman of the ECU Board of Trustees and a member of the search committee, said Compher emerged quickly as a top choice.
"Jeff Compher brings to East Carolina a record of outstanding success at NIU, specifically winning championships," Lucas said. "That's evidenced, among other things, by the football program's appearance in the Orange Bowl in 2012. He also is a leader who brings very strong communication skills and, because he has spent so much time in North Carolina, has great contacts and knowledge of the state and the people."
Compher succeeds Terry Holland as the chief executive of ECU’s athletics division.
A native of Baltimore, Md., Compher is an alumnus of James Madison University and began his career at N.C. State University, where he held varied roles in athletics for 13 years. He has been at NIU since 2008, where he led a program with strong academic and athletic performance and oversaw successful private fundraising.
A 15-member search committee, chaired by Lucas, selected Compher after working with national consultant Chuck Neinas and Neinas Sports Services. The trustees approved his appointment today in a meeting before the announcement.
While work continues on the details of his contract, Compher has agreed in principle to an annual salary of $415,000, along with bonuses for athletic, academic and compliance performance by the program, for fundraising and for retention. The funding for his contract comes from non-state appropriated funds, including the East Carolina Educational Foundation, known as the Pirate Club.
At an ECU press conference introducing the university's new athletic director, ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard hands Jeff Compher a purple ECU Pirates cap. Below, Compher tries the hat on for size. Compher said at the conference that ECU fans were the best in the nation because of their enthusiasm for their team. (Photos by Jay Clark)
About Jeff Compher
Served five years as Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Stressed success in the classroom and on the playing field. NIU has 22,000 students and is a member of the Mid-American Conference for athletics.
Under Compher’s leadership, NIU Huskie student-athletes have excelled academically. In the last seven years, all 17 intercollegiate athletic team have surpassed the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate every year. The NIU football team has been ranked in the Top 12 in the country in APR in each of the last four years.
In the past three years NIU has had seven Academic All-Americans, two National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes, an NCAA Woman of the Year finalist and an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winner.
The Huskie football team won its second straight Mid-American Conference title and became the first MAC team to play in the Bowl Championship Series with its Discover Orange Bowl matchup against Florida State on Jan. 1, 2013.
Worked at N.C. State University for 13 years in varied athletic roles, including assistant athletic director from 1986 to 1992.
Directed athletics administration at Vanderbilt University from 1996 to 2000.
Led Western Carolina University’s athletics programs from 2000 to 2004.
Served as executive associate athletic director at the University of Washington in Seattle from 2004-2008.
Hometown: Baltimore, Md.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in psychology from James Madison University in 1980, where he was a football student-athlete; Master’s degree in counseling and student personnel services from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania in 1982.
Family: He and his wife, Cathy, have two sons, C.J., 20, and David, 17.