CHICAGO- This week the athletic department at the University of Illinois at Chicago announced that the head of UIC Athletics was given a contract extension. Jim Schmidt, who was hired back in January of 1997 is the Horizon League’s longest-tenured athletic director. And it looks like he will hold that title for many years to come as UIC’s Board of Trustees has extended his contract through 2019.
During his time in University Village, the Flames 20 athletic programs have won a combined 87 regular season and postseason championships. Other major milestones on Schmidt’s watch include the first ever NCAA Tournament bids for UIC men’s basketball, men’s soccer, women’s tennis and baseball. Another one of Schmidt’s achievements is increasing the number of women’s sports at the university.
The UIC Lady Flames are now 10 programs strong, that’s more than DePaul, Loyola, Northern Illinois and Chicago State. Only Northwestern has more women’s sports. UIC’s baseball team has been the most prominent program under Schmidt’s watch. The baseball Flames have won 17 Horizon League titles in-a-row, and have made 15-straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
UIC’s baseball program will be getting a new stadium thanks to former UIC centerfielder and Chicago native Curtis Granderson currently of the New York Yankees. The stadium is expected to open in 2015. Of course the resurgence of the UIC men’s basketball program also deserves some credit. In 2013, the Flames returned to the postseason for the first time since 2004.
They won their first conference tournament game since 2008 when they defeated Cleveland State in the first round of the 2013 Horizon League Tournament. They advanced to the second round of the College Insider Tournament by defeating crosstown rival Chicago State. It was the first postseason victory in the program’s history. Unfortunately, Northern Iowa would end the Flames run. But rest assure that Mr. Schmidt is very thankful for the success of the basketball program.
“I’m excited to continue as Director of Athletics during this period of change and growth for Athletics,” said Schmidt. “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.”
Schmidt humbly began as the pitching coach for UIC’s baseball team back in 1982. He also worked in the athletics marketing department, sports information department and was previously the assistant athletic director. Before Schmidt’s promotion to the top job, UIC had only amassed nine NCAA postseason berths and 11 conference titles as a Division I member.
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