A native of Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood, Combe Family Vice President for Athletics & Recreation Jim Phillips joined Northwestern in 2008. His deep Windy City roots and family orientation are an integral part of a core philosophy of providing student-athletes with a "world-class experience" that enables them to thrive academically, socially and athletically.
Honored this spring as Sports Business Journal’s 2018 Athletic Director of the Year, Phillips was elected by his peers as the inaugural chair of the NCAA Division I Council, helping lead the most sweeping legislative reform in history for the benefit of student-athletes across the nation. He is currently a member of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, the group’s first Northwestern representative in 50 years, and is a past president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).
During Phillips’ decade of leadership, Northwestern student-athletes and the department have reached new heights in the classroom, in the community and in competition.
Academically, Wildcats student-athletes posted a record 3.33 GPA during the 2017-18 academic year, and Northwestern scored a 98 percent overall Graduation Success Rate (GSR) in the latest data released by the NCAA to lead all FBS institutions.
Northwestern continues to be among the nation's leaders in community service, and Wildcats student-athletes totaled more than 5,500 hours in service of more than 100 community organizations in 2017-18.
In competition, lacrosse, softball, golf, fencing, soccer, tennis, field hockey, swimming, diving and wrestling all have won conference or national championships during Phillips’ tenure, while the football program has posted three 10-win campaigns and three bowl championships over the last six seasons. Over his decade of leadership, Northwestern student-athletes have piled up 123 All-America honors, 39 Player of the Year awards and more than 2,200 Academic All-Big Ten honors. The Wildcats have also been recognized with 26 Coach of the Year awards, and have won 34 conference championships.
Mirroring the evolution across campus, Athletics & Recreation is in the midst of a facilities transformation, led by unprecedented support from the Wildcats community. Just this year the department officially dedicated the new Welsh-Ryan Arena, along with Walter Athletics Center and Ryan Fieldhouse, the new nucleus of the day-to-day student-athlete experience.
Phillips and his wife, Laura, have five children: Luke, Madeline, Meredith, John and James.
The Changing Face of College Basketball
The problems in college basketball are broad and complex. The Commission on College Basketball made recommendations to clean up the game. Panelists will weigh in on the proposed solutions – the elimination of the “one and done” rule; lifetime bans on coaches caught cheating; cracking down on amateur recruiting events; and more transparency on the financial deals with apparel companies.