After months passed with virtually no developments in the search for Northwestern’s next Director of Athletics, it appears that a decision may be coming soon.
Washington State’s Pat Chun and UC Berkeley’s Jim Knowlton have both been interviewed to fill the post vacated by Jim Phillips when he left to become the ACC’s next commissioner in February, according to reporting by The Mercury News’ Jon Wilner. A source also told Wilner that a decision could come in the next 7-to-10 days, wrapping up what has been a months-long, under-the-radar process. Wilner noted that Knowlton and Chun are not the only candidates involved.
Chun has been AD at Washington State since January of 2018. When he accepted the job in Pullman, he became the first Asian-American director of athletics at a Power Five institution in history. A year later, he won Under Armor’s Athletic Director of the Year award. Prior to arriving at WSU, he was the AD at Florida Atlantic for five years, where he arrived after serving in various roles over the course of fifteen years at Ohio State, his alma mater.
Knowlton, a former ice hockey player for the Army Black Knights, first served as the Deputy Athletic Director for the academy from 2003 to 2006. Two years later, he took the position of Athletic Director at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), an NCAA Division III school located in New York. He worked as the AD at RPI for seven years until he took same position at the Air Force Academy in 2015, and in 2018 he was named to his current positions as the Athletic Director at UC Berkeley.
Biggest capital projects are basically already done.— Matt Brown (@MattBrownEP) April 18, 2021
Pressure to win near bottom among P5s
Huge TV/Conference revenue
great city and quality of life
....is Northwestern secretly the best AD gig in the country?https://t.co/ZOGAyAtW9I
[UPDATE WITH NEW REPORTING]
At 9:12 p.m. CT, ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg reported in a thread on Twitter that Northwestern’s search for a new Director of Athletics is picking up steam, and that in addition to Chun and Knowlton, several other candidates are in the running for the position.
Rittenberg named three Athletic Directors at other NCAA Division I schools in his first tweet: UNLV’s Desiree Reed-Francois, SMU’s Rick Hart and Rice’s Joe Karlgaard.
#Northwestern's athletic director search picking up steam, per sources. External candidates who have interviewed include: #WashingtonState's Pat Chun and #Cal's Jim Knowlton (as @wilnerhotline reported). Also #UNLV's Desiree Reed-Francois, #SMU's Rick Hart, #Rice's Joe Karlgaard.— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) April 19, 2021
Additionally, Rittenberg reported that Northwestern is considering two internal candidates in Deputy Athletic Directors Mike Polisky and Janna Blais (who is serving as interim athletic director).
Finally, the last two names that were mentioned in the thread were former collegiate stars at the University in Napoleon Harris — who played as a linebacker and defensive end at NU from 1998 to 2001 and was also elected as an Illinois state senator — and former basketballl superstar Anucha Browne. The Wildcat legend starred on the basketball court from 1982 to 1985 (a year during which she led the NCAA in scoring), and later became an executive in the New York Knicks front office. Rittenberg reported that Browne has met with the school about the position.