NIU set to designate new athletic director

By Jim Wozniak

A new athletic director to oversee both men’s and women’s athletics seems imminent now that NIU President John LaTourette has received the external review committee’s report.

LaTourette has scheduled a 9:30 a.m. press conference Thursday where he will pass out the external committee’s suggestions, said Ken Beasley, assistant to the president. LaTourette also is expected to announce any realignment in personnel and present the new athletic director. Beasley said Tuesday LaTourette will talk to the people involved in his decisions between now and the press conference.

LaTourette was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

The president’s announcement follows a two-stage athletic review completed by personnel within and outside the university. The internal review committee suggested eliminating the division between men’s and women’s athletics by having one athletic director instead of the two now employed. The external committee apparently felt the same way, said internal committee chairman Jim Mellard.

Mellard said the internal committee met with the external committee and LaTourette June 4, the day the external committee arrived on campus. The external team received all the internal team’s notes in addition to the internal report, Mellard said.

Mellard said one external committee member told him he read the notes first and said his views afterwards were similar to those contained in the internal review.

“All four of them might have gone about it that way,” Mellard said. “That’s the way I would have encouraged them to do it. In general, my impression is that they agreed with our report.”

External committee member Fred Jacoby declined comment on the report, saying external committee chairman Gene Budig was the spokesman. Budig and fellow committee members Fred Schaus and Gwendolyn Norrell were unavailable for comment.

Whether or not the new athletic director will be temporary or permanent cannot be determined. The Chicago Tribune reported Friday the external committee disagreed with the internal committee’s suggestion to appoint an interim athletic director. But, Mellard said that idea would not be wise because faculty, staff and student imput would be bypassed.

Although athletic directors Robert Brigham and Susie Pembroke-Jones have not signed contracts for 1987-88 yet, their NIU futures appear to be as assistants to the new athletic director. This situation would be similar to the arrangement about five years ago when Deacon Davis was in charge. Brigham and Pembroke-Jones were unavailable for comment Tuesday.

The Northern Star Tuesday received an unsigned copy of a letter sent to NI Club members. The women’s booster group members were supposed to sign the letter, which opposed the one-athletic-director system, and send it to LaTourette. This might have been an indication of an unknown future for Pembroke-Jones.

The letter said having one athletic director would be detrimental to women’s athletics because two athletic directors give women better coaching and administrative opportunities.