Illinois-Chicago athletic director Schmidt receives five-year contract extension
CHICAGO – Illinois-Chicago director of athletics Jim Schmidt has received a five-year contract extension, through January 2019, which was approved by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.
Under the 16-year direction of Schmidt, UIC has advanced to NCAA postseason competition on 52 occasions while amassing 87 combined regular-season and postseason conference championships.
“Jim Schmidt, along with his coaching and support staffs in our 20 men’s and women’s intercollegiate sports, have helped our UIC student-athletes rise to new heights on the field of competition, in the classroom, in their post-college careers, and in the hearts of their fellow classmates and alumni,” UIC chancellor Paula Allen-Meares said. “Flames Athletics plays a large and increasing role in student life at UIC, for our student-athletes and fans alike. We look forward to more successes under Jim’s continued leadership.”
The longest-tenured athletic director in the Horizon League, Schmidt's term has produced the most comprehensive run of athletic and academic success in school history. He began his current post on Jan. 24, 1997.
"I’m excited to continue as director of athletics during this period of change and growth for athletics,” Schmidt said. “The next five years will be challenging. The Division I landscape is quickly moving in a new direction, but I am honored to be here and focused on the future. We have excellent coaches to lead us forward, and the administration has a great vision for UIC in the future and has been very supportive.”
The first NCAA bids for men's basketball, men's soccer, women's tennis and baseball have occurred since Schmidt took office, setting the stage for championship and postseason pedigrees for those teams. The men's soccer
program has been ranked as high as fourth nationally and advanced to the 2007 NCAA quarterfinals; the baseball team has won 10 of the past 14 league regular-season championships and advanced to NCAA regional play four times since 2003; and the women's tennis team has established itself as a dynasty by winning an unprecedented 17 consecutive league titles and making 15 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
A new multimillion dollar baseball stadium was approved in May by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. The stadium will be named in honor of UIC alumnus and New York Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson, who announced a funding pledge for the facility earlier this year that is expected to be the largest gift in UIC Athletics history.
UIC also has continued to enhance the academic performance of its student-athletes under Schmidt. During the past five semesters, UIC student-athletes have averaged a 3.0 grade-point average. The latest NCAA reports list UIC Athletics' overall graduation success rate at 84 percent -- well above the Division I national average of 80 percent.
The UIC intercollegiate athletics program received certification by the NCAA in 2011 following a comprehensive campus self-study and review by the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification.
This past November, Schmidt secured the addition of women's soccer as a varsity sport at UIC, in keeping with UIC’s commitment to women's athletics. Schmidt and his administration also added women’s golf in 2010 -- UIC now sponsors 10 women's sports, including all nine programs sponsored by the Horizon League. Valparaiso and Youngstown State are the only two other schools in the league to sponsor all nine women's programs.
Arriving at UIC in 1982, Schmidt served as a pitching coach on the Flames' baseball staff before being named an assistant to the athletic director in charge of marketing/promotions and daily operations. From 1983-86, Schmidt handled all sports information duties as an assistant athletic director and assumed the title of associate athletic director in 1987. In 15 years of NCAA Division I status prior to Schmidt's tenure as athletic director, UIC earned nine NCAA postseason berths and accumulated 11 conference titles.