The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors announced on Tuesday, June 9, 2015, that IHSA Assistant Executive Director Craig Anderson will be the seventh individual in the 114-year existence of the Association to serve as the organization’s Executive Director.
“I am excited, proud and humbled,” said Anderson, a 1987 graduate of Cambridge High School in Cambridge, Illinois. “I have incredibly big shoes to fill, but certainly look forward to that challenge. Dating back to my time as a teacher, coach and administrator, I have always had an affinity for the IHSA and its mission. I said in 2010
that working for the IHSA was a dream job. To ascend to the Executive Director role is beyond words.”
Anderson will officially transition to his new position on Monday, January 18, 2016 following the retirement of current IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman, whose forthcoming retirement was announced in January
“I am incredibly thankful to the committee and Board of Directors for their belief in me,” said Anderson, who was a three-sport athlete that also participated in music, band and drama as a student at Cambridge. “I look forward to continuing to work with the talented team of individuals here at the IHSA, as well as the dedicated administrators and coaches at our member schools. There is great tradition to uphold at the IHSA, while also preparing to face new challenges ahead.”
The Association’s storied history includes hiring its first Executive Director, Charles W. Whitten, in 1922. Witten held the position until 1942 and was followed by Albert Willis (1942-1968), Harry Fitzhugh (1968-1978), Lavere L. Astroth (1978-1991) and H. David Fry (1991-2002). Hickman followed Fry in 2002.
Wauconda Principal & IHSA Board President Dan Klett chaired the search committee that wrapped up its candidate interviews on the morning of June 8, 2015, and reached its decision later that afternoon. The committee featured the IHSA Board of Directors, as well as IHSA staff members, and representatives from the Illinois Athletic Directors Association (IADA) and the Illinois Directors of Student Activities (IDSA). In addition, Illinois Elementary School Association Executive Director Steve Endsley and Indiana High School Athletic Association Executive Director Bobby Cox provided their experience and perspective to the committee.
“Craig has shown tremendous leadership in his time at the IHSA,” said Klett, “We considered and interviewed several impressive candidates, both internally and externally, but the committee came away from Craig’s interview confident that his experience, both in the high school and since joining the IHSA, makes him the right person to lead the IHSA into its next era.”
Anderson currently serves as the IHSA Administrator for Football, Wrestling and Baseball. In addition, he oversees the IHSA Officials Department, where he is charged with the oversight of the licensing and the education programs for the 15,000-plus officials who annually regulate IHSA sports competition. He is also a current member of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee and the Chair of the NFHS Football Manual Committee.
“I have had the pleasure of working closely with Craig throughout his time at the IHSA,” said Hickman. “He is an innovator with a great understanding of the IHSA’s mission, rules and procedures. His passion for this organization and belief in the power that extracurricular programs have on our young people will serve him well in this role.”
Since joining the IHSA, Anderson has been involved in a number of safety initiatives, especially in football, where he worked jointly with the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and Football Advisory Committee to implement a new fall practice acclimatization schedule, eliminate full-contact hitting in the summer, and study overall full-contact practice hitting limitations during the regular-season (a recommendation the IHSA Board will vote on next week).
Anderson has also successfully administered several transitions of IHSA events as well, including the expansion of the IHSA Individual Wrestling State Final tournament from a two-day tournament to a three-day tournament, playing the IHSA Football State Finals at Northern Illinois University, and the IHSA Officials Conference moving to East Peoria.
“The Illinois Athletic Directors Association (IADA) is proud to see a former IADA Board Member assume the IHSA’s top leadership role,” said Champaign Central High School Athletic Director and IADA President John Woods. “Our organization has enjoyed a strong partnership with the IHSA, as well as with Craig, for many years. We look forward to that relationship continuing to grow even stronger as we work together on behalf of high school students in Illinois.”
Anderson held the position of Athletic Director at Washington High School in Washington, Illinois from 2005 to 2010, where he was in charge of all facets of the athletic department, including budgeting and hiring coaches. While at Washington, he was a member of the IHSA Athletic Administrators Advisory Committee, IHSA Legislative Commission and National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. Anderson came to Washington after four years at Olympia High School in Stanford, Illinois, where he taught mathematics and served as the head football coach for two seasons, before assuming the role of Activities Director from 2002-2005. He started his career in education as a mathematics teacher at Morton High School, where he was also hired as a football, basketball and track & field coach.
“I look forward to working very closely with Dr. Hickman and the rest of the staff in the coming months as we transition together,” said Anderson. “I am extremely enthusiastic for this opportunity to expand my role at the IHSA and work closely with our member schools to serve the students participating in IHSA sports and activities.”
A 1991 graduate of Monmouth College, Anderson enjoyed a standout career for the Fighting Scots on the football field and basketball court. He went on to earn a Master’s of Arts Degree in Educational Administration from Illinois State University in 1997. Anderson resides in Morton with wife Allie, and sons Cooper, Tucker and Maguire.