DeKALB – Sean Frazier doesn't just want to make the Northern Illinois brand known regionally. NIU's new athletic director wants to make the Huskies recognized on a national level as well.
However, Frazier said everything starts with getting the DeKalb community and all of the NIU alumni in the Chicago area involved in NIU athletics, which would be beneficial with things like attendance and fundraising.
Frazier was introduced Tuesday at separate news conferences in DeKalb and Chicago and takes over for Jeff Compher, who left for East Carolina this past spring. Frazier will begin his duties in August.
When he was introducing the school's new AD, NIU President Douglas Baker even pointed out DeKalb Mayor John Rey, who was in attendance in the McCareins Auditorium at the Yordon Center.
"I think that shows the linkage we're trying to make with our communities and the region," Baker said. "I know athletics will play a key role."
To Frazier, who has served as Wisconsin's deputy director of athletics since 2011 and has worked in the Badgers' athletic department since 2007, it's a great time for the school to use last year's football success as a springboard.
"The momentum that NIU has right now, the challenge now is to make sure we move and capitalize on that momentum," said Frazier, the first African-American to serve as NIU's athletic director. "We have 225,000 living alums, 80 to 90 percent of them are in the Chicagoland area. We need to make sure they're engaged, so they make sure what they have in this great university.
"That's my job, is to make sure from an athletic standpoint that I do that outreach, that I do that engagement, that I get people excited about that."
For Frazier, the first step is meeting with alumni and getting familiar with them. He already has experience with the Chicago area from his days at Wisconsin.
"I'm going to be able to go some different places and know some different things," he said. "I'm not coming fresh in."
The Huskies' Orange Bowl berth was a huge part of the momentum that Frazier talks about. There's also the new Chessick Practice Center, which towers above the north end zone at Huskie Stadium, and is expected to be completed this fall. Huskie Stadium also will host the IHSA State Football Championships Thanksgiving weekend.
At Wisconsin, Frazier was the capital project/fundraising team member for Wiscosin's $31 million hockey/swim facility, $2.5 million golf facility, $3.5 million softball indoor practice center and $86 million student-athlete performance center.
Frazier called the Chessick Center a "game-changer" and a building that rivals those of any BCS program. He said there will be a plan when it comes to facilties after he takes over.
In terms of scheduling, Frazier said football is a sport that's relationship-driven. He wants all of his programs to have a balanced schedule.
"We want to put our athletes and our coaches in a place where they can be successful," said Frazier, who played football at Alabama from 1987 to 1991 and was a member of the Crimson Tide's 1989 SEC title team. "I like to say we'll play any place, any time, for any reason. At the end of the day, we have to balance that in a way where we're competitive and fan friendly."