Players leaving NIU raises major concerns

By Jimmy Johnson

Two years ago, NIU football was hit with a major loss when then coach Jerry Kill bolted for Minnesota.

It was a decision that left many bitter, upset and questioned what went into Kill’s choice to leave.

Soon after the Kill departed, Jeff Compher, NIU Athletic Director, offered his opinion.

“It’s unfortunately part of the business that we’re in,” Compher said. “The timing, no matter when it is, is never good. Our program is being recognized as a national-level program. You can come here and you can win. You can either be a launching pad or a graveyard, and I’d rather be a launching pad.”

Those were sentiments I agreed with, but recently, the launching pad has found its way to not just coaches leaving, but players, too.

First, it was Lauren Wicinski: two-time MAC Player of the Year, undoubtedly the most dominant player in the conference. Wicisnki said she wanted to play at a bigger school, and at the end of March, she transferred to Michigan State.

Off and away Wicinski went to the Big 10.

On Tuesday, it was another player announcing her decision to leave the Huskie pack: Claire Jakubicek. The 2011 MAC Freshman of the Year plans on transferring. There aren’t any details or developments on why Jakubicek is leaving NIU, at least for now.

It’s one thing to be a launching pad for coaches, but for players? That’s when something isn’t right.

There isn’t much for Compher and NIU athletics to prevent this from happening again. They can’t “hide” their prized and most accomplished athletes from the public and national eye.

Transfers happen all the time year in and year out in college athletics. This time, though, it happened twice in one semester.

No athletic program wants to be a launching pad or graveyard: they want to sustain success with the athletes they’ve courted and landed and win.

But at the rate it’s going for NIU, they won’t be either a launching pad or graveyard. Instead, they’ll be the athletic rendition of “Before They Were Famous” recognizing all its athletes that have left for other destinations.