DeKALB – Sean Frazier doesn’t just want to make the Northern Illinois brand known regionally.
NIU’s new athletic director wants to make the Huskies recognized on a national level. However, Frazier said everything starts with getting the DeKalb community and NIU alums in the Chicago area involved in NIU athletics to benefit things like attendance and fundraising.
Frazier was introduced at separate press conferences in DeKalb and Chicago on July 16 and takes over for Jeff Compher, who left for East Carolina this past spring. Frazier will begin his duties in August.
When he was introducing NIU’s new AD, NIU President Douglas Baker pointed out DeKalb Mayor John Rey, who was in attendance in the McCareins Auditorium at the Yordon Center.
“I think that shows the linkage we’re trying to make with our communities and the region,” Baker said. “I know athletics will play a key role.”
To Frazier, who has served as Wisconsin’s deputy director of athletics since 2011 and has worked in the Badgers athletic department since 2007, it’s a great time for the school to use last year’s football success as a springboard.
“The momentum that NIU has right now, the challenge now is to make sure we move and capitalize on that momentum,” said Frazier, the first African-American to serve as NIU’s athletic director. “We have 225,000 living alums, 80-90 percent of them are in the Chicagoland area. We need to make sure they’re engaged, so they make sure what they have in this great university.
“That’s my job, is to make sure from an athletic standpoint, that I do that outreach, that I do that engagement, that I get people excited about that.”
The Huskies’ Orange Bowl berth was a huge part of the momentum that Frazier talks about. There’s also the new Chessick Practice Center, which towers above the north end zone at Huskie Stadium, and is expected to be completed this fall. Huskie Stadium will also host the IHSA State Football Championships.
At Wisconsin, Frazier was the capital project/fundraising team member for Wiscosin’s $31 million hockey/swim facility, $2.5 million golf facility, $3.5 million softball indoor practice center and $86 million student-athlete performance center.
Frazier called the Chessick Center a “game-changer” and a building which rivals those of any BCS program. He said he will have a plan when it comes to facilties.
Frazier said football is a sport that’s relationship-driven. He wants all programs to have a balanced schedule.
“We want to put our athletes and our coaches in a place where they can be successful,” said Frazier, who played football at Alabama from 1987-91 and was a member of the Crimson Tide’s 1989 SEC title team. “I like to say we’ll play any place, any time, for any reason. At the end of the day, we have to balance that in a way where we’re competitive and fan friendly.”