Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

32° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.



Taking NU athletics to new heights

Jim Phillips’ long journey is over. Now it’s time to get to work.

Northwestern’s new athletic director outlined the basics of an aggressive marketing strategy designed to “take Northwestern to new heights” on Tuesday at his first press conference since taking the position on April 14.

Flanked by university president Henry Bienen and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Pat Ryan, Phillips introduced himself to the crowd at Nicolet Football Center as a man living a dream.

“I can’t explain how honored and humbled and excited I am to lead Northwestern athletics into the future,” he said. “But I really feel like I’ve come home.”

Now that he is home, the new leader of the Wildcats said he plans to institute a dynamic program of marketing and finance that he hopes will increase the resources and financial position of the athletic department.

“The marketing and promoting of Wildcat athletics will be a top priority,” he said.

At the top of his list was resource acquisition, including reinvesting directly back into the program. But Phillips said he also plans to evaluate the department from a personnel standpoint.

Referencing the Jim Collins book “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t,” he said he would examine everyone’s position within the organization.

“It’s about getting the people on the bus,” he said, “and it’s getting them in the right places on the bus.”

Phillips’ platform also focused on the vast potential of Chicago. Referring to it as the “X-Factor,” Phillips said the city was NU’s biggest marketing advantage over its Big Ten counterparts.

“Nobody else has the city of Chicago on its doorstep,” he said.

Despite the changes, Phillips emphasized his overall goal is to maintain the academic and athletic traditions that have existed at NU since its inception.

“We’re going to try to commit to that excellence as the university has done for 158 years,” he said.

One such tradition is the quality of service provided to the players themselves. Phillips repeatedly referred to giving future Cats “a world-class student-athlete experience – academically, socially, and athletically.”

Phillips said he had met with 14 of NU’s 19 varsity teams and about 350 of the 471 student-athletes. In the coming days, he said he plans to introduce himself to the remaining players.

The crowd at Nicolet Fwas a who’s who of NU athletics. Football coach Pat Fitzgerald and basketball coach Bill Carmody chatted on one side of the auditorium, while baseball coach Paul Stevens sat on the other side.

University spokesman Al Cubbage stood alongside assistant athletic director Mike Wolf, who moderated the press conference.

And of course there were the two most powerful men at NU: Bienen and Ryan. The university president praised Phillips’ drive and illuminated what he thought was Phillips’ most pressing concern.

“We expect more fannies in the seats,” he said.

Ryan, who has known the new A.D. since Phillips was the senior associate director of athletics for external affairs at Notre Dame, added his vote of confidence.

“We couldn’t have a better person coming in,” he said. “I know we’ve got a proven winner.”

With the support of NU’s coaches and administrators, Phillips has a mandate to make whatever changes he feels are necessary. Still, he said he would do a “SWOT analysis:” meeting individually with all 161 athletic department staff and employees to determine the program’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

And he predicted a successful future for the Cats.

“We’re going to compete for and win championships across the board,” he said.

[email protected]

More to Discover
Activate Search
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Taking NU athletics to new heights