Could the Big Ten see an athletic director shuffle?
Interesting stuff Sunday from the Tribune's Teddy Greenstein, who's reporting that Penn State might try to lure Jim Phillips away from Northwestern to become the Nittany Lions' new AD.
Phillips, a Chicago native, has served as Northwestern's AD since April 2008, and he signed a 10-year contract extension in 2011. According to Greenstein, a Phillips departure would be totally unexpected given his close relationships to those in Evanston. Recent attempts by Illinois and Stanford to hire him away have been unsuccessful.
Phillips achievements include helming the athletics department during a surge in the success of the football program under Pat Fitzgerald, the hiring of basketball coach Chris Collins and the recently announced construction of athletics facilities in Evanston.
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Dave Joyner, the current Penn State AD, has earned acclaim for the splashy hirings of head football coaches Bill O'Brien and James Franklin. Joyner has been in charge of the athletics department since Nov. 2011 (he was "acting" AD until Jan. 2012) and has specifically watched the football program emerge from the Jerry Sandusky scandal and firing of Joe Paterno. His hiring of Franklin earlier this year practically universally applauded.
Greenstein points out Penn State's new president and the fact that he might want to bring in his own AD.
This is interesting stuff, but it doesn't sound too likely to result in Phillips leaving Northwestern.