After nearly five years at Northern Illinois, Jeff Compher was introduced as East Carolina's new athletic director Wednesday afternoon in Greenville, N.C.
According to the Associated Press, Compher agreed to a five-year contract worth $415,000 annually plus performance bonuses. He will begin his duties at East Carolina on May 1. NIU has not yet announced an interim athletic director. Compher made $284,000 annually at NIU.
"I would like to thank the search committee, the members of the Board of Trustees, and especially Chancellor (Steve) Ballard for this outstanding opportunity to lead the ECU Athletics Department," Compher said in an ECU news release. "North Carolina has always been home for our family and the city of Greenville holds a special place in our hearts. We look forward to getting to know the student-athletes, coaches and staff as well as the many fans and supporters of ECU athletics."
Compher, 53, is replacing Terry Holland, who retired earlier this year. He will oversee a program that is a member of Conference USA, but will join the Big East (as it's currently known) in football in 2014. Compher has ties to the state as he spent 2000-04 as Western Carolina's athletic director and worked in various positions at N.C. State for 13 years. He was an assistant athletic director in Raleigh from 1986-92.
During his time in DeKalb, Compher hired two football coaches as well as a men's and women's basketball coach. He also oversaw the start of construction on the $9.5-million Chessick Practice Center.
"I would like to thank President Peters, the student-athletes, coaches and staff for the opportunity to lead the Huskie Athletics Department. I am also very grateful to the generous donors, alumni and fans who have helped build a tremendously successful athletics program," Compher said in an NIU press release. "My family will miss the many good friends we have made here and appreciate how the community accepted us over the last five years."
Compher hired Dave Doeren in December 2010, and watched him go 23-4 in two seasons at the helm of the NIU football program. Doeren took the North Carolina State job Dec.1, the day after the Huskies won their second consecutive Mid-American Conference championship.
On Dec. 2, 2012, Compher replaced Doeren with Rod Carey, who had been the team's offensive coordinator. The same day, NIU became the first MAC school to earn a BCS bid, as it was announced the Huskies would take on Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Florida State would go on to defeat NIU, 31-10, on New Year's Day.
“I am really happy for Jeff and his family, but sad to see him go," Carey said in a press release. "He’s been a great leader for NIU and has taken us to places we haven’t been before as a football program and as an athletic department. I have the utmost respect for Jeff and his wife, Cathy.”
Twelve of the 16 current head coaches in the Huskies' athletic program were hired by Compher. In addition to Doeren and Carey, coaches Compher brought to DeKalb include men's basketball coach Mark Montgomery and women's basketball coach Kathi Bennett.
Montgomery has gone just 10-49 in nearly two seasons at the helm of the men's program, while Bennett is 34-55 with the women's team.
Construction on the Chessick Center began in 2012, and the facility is scheduled to be finished sometime this fall. Last month, Compher told the Daily Chronicle he expected the facility to be completed around October – before NIU hosts the IHSA State Football Championships.