Former Northern Illinois football coach Joe Novak was announced Friday as one of seven members of the 2014 Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame class to be honored on May 13.
The seven inductees are Novak, Charlie Coles (Miami/Central Michigan, men’s basketball), Judy Devine (Kent State, administration), Harry Houska (Ohio, wrestling), Jim Lessig (MAC/Bowling Green, administration), Caroline Mullen-Kearney (Western Michigan, women’s track and cross country) and Sally Northcroft (Ball State, field hockey).
“It is only appropriate for our Conference to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of our former student-athletes, coaches and administrators, specifically these seven individuals, and their achievements during their time competing in the Mid-American Conference,” MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher said. “We are honored to welcome them to the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame.”
As NIU's head coach from 1996-2007, Novak resurrected the Huskie program with four MAC West titles, one MAC Championship game, two bowl appearances and he earned MAC Coach of the Year honors in 2002.
Novak played on back-to-back MAC co-champions at Miami in 1965 and 1966 as a standout defensive end. He returned to Miami in 1974 to begin his collegiate coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater under Dick Crum, where he served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 1974-76. He helped lead Miami to back-to-back MAC titles and undefeated league records in 1974 and 1975, and to two straight appearances in the Tangerine Bowl.
In 2013 he was inducted into the NIU's Athletics Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.