Sloan 1st in line for AD forum

By Jim Wozniak

Starting today, NIU athletics encounters what is arguably one of the most important weeks in its history.

What began as an internal and external review of the athletic department has developed into a changing of the guard at the athletic helm. NIU President John LaTourette decided to go ahead with the two committees’ recommendation to have one athletic director.

Interim Athletic Director Jim Mellard soon will hand over his position to one of three candidates remaining for the permanent spot. But it will not be to someone from NIU because no one from NIU applied, Athletic Director Search Committee Chairwoman Nancy Vedral said.

Candidates will submit to open forums, and the first one will be today from 1-2:30 p.m. in Holmes Student Center room 506. First to stand under scrutiny will be Russ Sloan, executive director of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce in California. He had dinner with the search committee Thursday night and also will meet with LaTourette after the forum.

Sloan is 49, married and a father of three. He was a member of Missouri’s 1959 Orange Bowl team and then remained there as a graduate assistant while he earned his master’s degree in secondary school administration. The next step was coaching football on the high school ranks and at another university.

After failing to win a Missouri Congressional seat, he became state director of motor vehicle and license in Missouri in the early 1970s. Then he became Southeast Missouri State’s athletic director before moving on to Fresno State. He spent a year as executive director of the California Bowl, which NIU won in 1983, before switching to the Chamber of Commerce.