WIU Sport Management Alum Makes Mark at UIC

Courtesy: Matt Howard

University of Illinois-Chicago Director of Athletics Jim Schmidt is entering his 13th year at the helm of the Flames Athletic Department. His capable leadership has led the program in a positive direction both on the playing field and in the classroom.

In his tenure at UIC, Schmidt has led the Flames to NCAA postseason competition 42 times while winning a total of 68 conference championships. In addition, UIC has maintained a graduation rate of 84% for all athletes, which is well above the national average.

Schmidt, a 1981 graduate of the Western Illinois University Sport Management Program, was hired as the director of athletics at UIC on January 24, 1997. While at Western, he served as the pitching coach for the WIU baseball team during the 1981 season.

In 1982, he took the same position as pitching coach for the UIC baseball team. During the same year Schmidt was named an assistant to the athletics director in charge of marketing and promotions and daily operations. In 1987, Jim assumed the role of associate athletics director and after spending 10 years in this position, he was named director of athletics for the Flames.

When asked to give advice to an individual beginning a career in sports, Schmidt responded that communication and listening are vital to success.

“You have to be an eager learner and a good listener,” Schmidt explained, “When being interviewed by a university, it is important to do your homework on that institution and the position so your future employers know that you are serious about taking the job.”

He also cautions about changing jobs too often. “Movement every couple of years indicates you may not be willing to put in the time necessary to build the program,” he said.

Nowadays, most of Schmidt’s time is spent on fundraising, development, and sponsorship. “When you’re working with a lot of different personalities, it is essential to be a good communicator.”

He claims his favorite memory in his job is seeing the UIC men’s basketball team earn their first trip to the NCAA tournament in 1998. As one of the most well-respected athletic directors in the Horizon League, it is safe to say that Jim Schmidt has done his job in making a name for the WIU Sport Management program.