It was all in place, NIU would host preliminary soccer rounds at Huskie Stadium for the 2016 Olympics if (or when) Chicago grabs the bid. With under 12 hours before the winning bid is announced for the Oylmpics, the intergovernmental agreement between NIU and the City of Chicago has been lost in translation.
What happened to NIU's involvement, nobody knows. In March, according to Northern Star reporter Ben Gross, he spoke with NIU Athletic Director Jeff Compher on this very agreement when discussing the new strategic plan. Compher was not aware of the March 2007 agreement detailed in the above link that was in place during the Jim Phillips era.
A reliable source told me today that Eddie Williams, executive VP chief of operations, finance and facilities at NIU, said everything was still in place for the preliminary soccer rounds to come to NIU. That source also told me that NIU Sports Information Director Donna Turner denied there was plan and that Williams backtracked when called again on the issue.
So what happened?
The plan was for Chicago to pay for new turf on Huskie Stadium, build the needed facilities that included the Olympic Village and soccer facility. For NIU, this would all be done for free.
Seeing how NIU replaced the turf and the NCAA made them build the track and soccer complex, Chicago would be upgrading these. The stadium would need new turf by 2016 and the soccer complex would get new turf, or they'd build a whole new one for further accommodation.
Further more, NIU already has Northern View which could act as part of an Olympic Village, in which Chicago would also pay for the upgrades and additional housing units. Hello, more student housing?
Combine that with the giant dust collecting Convocation Center, the Yordon Center and with Chicago flipping the bill, why not get that indoor practice facility built for free?
Now, whether Chicago gets the bid or not, its time for NIU to open up to what happened. With Chicago picking up the tab NIU has no reason to back out if it already hasn't.
Not to mention the immeasurable positive impact this would have on the communities of DeKalb, Sycamore and NIU. Phillips recognized this impact when this agreement was made. So did Steve Simmons in regards to the positive impact on the soccer programs. An impact that goes far beyond what he already built.
Did NIU get everything it wanted out of the deal without having to host anything or did the Olympic plan simply leave with Phillips to Northwestern, which I'm sure was already integral in Chicago's plan.
Even still, the agreement was signed with NIU, not with Phillips personally.
Maybe NIU is still in the works, figuring out details. Or maybe Chicago is leaving them in the dark and NIU has just assumed they're not involved. It's possible.
Or did the current NIU administration, as we have seen a lot in its reign already, drop the ball and let this one fall through the cracks?
If so it made a very, very big mistake for the future of NIU and DeKalb.
Chicago 2016 or not, it's time for answers.