WittKieffer Welcomes New Principal to Head College Athletics Leadership Recruitment

Oak Brook, Illinois – October 16, 2019 – Today, WittKieffer announced Jeff Compher as a new Principal in its Education Practice, where he will head recruitment for directors of athletics, coaches and other college sports leaders. Compher holds unique insight into college athletics and the types of individuals who thrive in leadership roles. He brings to the position over 25 years of experience at leading colleges and universities, having served as a former director of athletics, long-time administrator and recognized expert on the sports landscape.

Compher’s addition to the team expands WittKieffer’s ability to support college and university presidents and boards as they build out their teams to actualize their missions and strategies. Identifying athletics leadership is a natural extension of the advice and counsel that WittKieffer has provided clients in academia for decades. Compher joins many other experts among WittKieffer’s consulting staff who have held significant roles as institutional leaders themselves.

Prior to joining WittKieffer, Compher served as director of athletics for East Carolina University, where he led ambitious strategic planning efforts, oversaw 450 student-athletes and 170 staff members and served as a key member of the chancellor’s executive council. He has also held athletic director (AD) positions at Northern Illinois University and Western Carolina University, and has served in leadership roles at the University of Washington, Vanderbilt University and North Carolina State University. In his career, he has championed diversity and inclusion, strong ethics and compliance, financial prudence, academic support and life skills for athletes, and many more important issues and initiatives.

“Jeff is a highly respected figure in college sports. He has always emphasized building a student-athlete experience that complements an institution’s educational mission, a perspective that will be invaluable to WittKieffer clients looking for progressive athletic leadership,” said Zach Smith, Ph.D., managing partner of WittKieffer’s Education Practice. “We are thrilled he’s joining our firm and look forward to working with him to cultivate exceptional candidates for our clients.”

“Combining Jeff’s deep athletics experience with WittKieffer’s thorough and professional approach to academic executive search will create a unique service to colleges and universities,” said Andrew Chastain, CEO of WittKieffer. “Today’s institutions recognize and value the importance that a senior-level practitioner of Jeff’s stature brings to the highly public nature of athletic director and coaching searches. Recruiting ADs and coaches requires a more comprehensive level of due diligence and a search process that only a firm like WittKieffer can provide. Hiring authorities need a strong partner that can produce and execute a high-quality search grounded in a more thorough and precise process, combined with an efficient and expedited timeline.”

Based in Chicago, Compher will lead searches for athletics leaders at a range of institutions. In sourcing candidates and reaching out into the marketplace, he will rely upon an extensive network of former peers and athletics leaders with whom he has established relationships over many years.

Compher holds a Master’s in College Counseling from Shippensburg (Penn.) University and a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the James Madison University. He has held numerous professional committees and advisory roles and received an Under Armor “Athletic Director of the Year” Award in 2013.