CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Jennifer Heppel has been appointed the Patriot League's fifth executive director, announced Dr. Cornelius Kerwin, chair of the League's Council of Presidents and President at American University. She comes to the Patriot League after working the past five years as an associate commissioner at the Big Ten Conference.
"I am delighted and honored to be selected as the next Executive Director of the Patriot League," Heppel said. "I am grateful to the Council of Presidents for the opportunity to lead this outstanding group of institutions that are committed to competing in Division I athletics, while holding paramount the academic achievement and personal development of student-athletes. I look forward to working with everyone in the Patriot League in continuing to advance our vision."
Heppel takes over for Carolyn Schlie Femovich, who steps down after 16 years as the League's executive director, on August 1.
"Jennifer has a tremendous background that spans from working in a conference office, at NCAA headquarters and at a fellow Jesuit school," said Jim Paquette, Loyola University Maryland's assistant vice president and director of athletics. "Iknow she will draw from each of those experiences as she transitions to her leadership role at the Patriot League"
In her most recent role as Associate Commissioner for Governance at the Big Ten, Heppel worked directly with the presidents/chancellors, faculty representatives and administrators in implementing the policy initiatives of the conference. She played a leading role nationally in the recent restructuring of the NCAA Division I governance system, and held the position of Secretary of the conference. Heppel oversaw all aspects of Big Ten men's ice hockey, including representing the Big Ten on the boards of the Hockey Commissioners' Association and College Hockey, Inc.
She was first employed at the Big Ten from 1998-2005, including the last four (2001-2005) as the Associate Commissioner for Compliance and Enforcement. In addition to her responsibilities in those areas, she was a member of the Big Ten men's basketball tournament management team, served as the tournament director of the 2005 Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament, and was the primary liaison to multiple coaches' and administrative groups, including the Big Ten Administrators Council.
"On behalf of the Patriot League's Council of Presidents, I am pleased to announce that Jennifer Heppel has accepted our offer to serve as the next Executive Director of the Patriot League," Kerwin said. "Jennifer's skills, experience and values deeply impressed those involved in the search process. With her understanding of and dedication to the Patriot League's distinctive approach to intercollegiate athletics, we have appointed an Executive Director who will ensure the continued success of our student- athletes, both in the classroom and in athletic competitions. Further, Jennifer will provide a strong voice for the Patriot League's model of the scholar-athlete and the primacy of the student experience in the ongoing discussions on the future of intercollegiate sports. The Council of Presidents looks forward to many years of Jennifer's leadership and service to our member institutions."
Between her roles at the Big Ten, Heppel was the Associate Athletics Director for Administration at Georgetown University (2005-10) where she served on the Department's senior staff and provided employee services in the areas of staff recruiting, hiring, compensation, gender-equity analysis, performance management, and orientation. She was a member of the BIG EAST Conference Championship and Competition Committee (2006-2010) and NCAA Olympic Sports Liaison Committee (2008-2010). Heppel also was lead sport administrator for seven teams, working closely with the head coaches to create and manage an environment conducive to both academic and competitive success, and served as the tournament manager for the 2006 and 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament games, hosted by Georgetown at the Verizon Center, in Washington, D.C.
Earlier in her career, she worked at the NCAA National Office as a Membership Services Representative and began her professional career as an assistant athletic director and senior woman administrator at the University of Hartford.
Heppel received her undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut where she was a member of the women's ice hockey team. Later, she earned an MBA from Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
Jim Delany, Commissioner, Big Ten Conference
"Jennifer made a significant impact during her two tenures at the Big Ten Conference. Her diverse background in sports administration, regulatory affairs and governance allowed her to work seamlessly with our Presidents/Chancellors, Faculty Representatives and Administrators to develop and implement policy change at the conference and national level during an important time in the history of college athletics. I am excited for Jennifer's opportunity and I know that the Patriot League is well-positioned to continue its model of academic excellence and athletic success under her leadership."
Bernard Muir, former athletic director at Georgetown and currently Stanford's Jaquish & Kenninger Director of Athletics
"This is a well-deserved opportunity for Jennifer and I have no doubt she will continue to enhance the overall profile of the Patriot League. Jennifer is the perfect fit as a leader and visionary, which I was able to witness on a daily basis during our time at Georgetown. Jennifer has established a reputation as a respected administrator and I wish her nothing but the best."
Jim Phillips, Vice President for Athletics and Recreation at Northwestern University, and Chair of the NCAA Division I Council
"The Patriot League is getting an outstanding Executive Director in Jen Heppel. Her contributions and dedication to the Big Ten and its member institutions have played an important role in the Conference remaining a leader in college athletics. She is incredibly deserving of this opportunity and is the perfect choice to lead this wonderful conference. To be sure, I wish her the very best of luck."