Athletic director ‘hungry for success’

Garrett Klassy and Michael Amiridis

Athletic director Garrett Klassy with UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis. Photo: Jenny Fontaine

Garrett Klassy plans to win — on and off the field.

“We’re going to win in everything we do,” Klassy told students, faculty and staff gathered at the Flames Athletic Center Tuesday as he assumed his new role as UIC athletic director. He highlighted sports, academics and community engagement as starting points.

It’s the first time in 22 years that the university has welcomed a new athletic director to the campus, thanks to the commitment and success of Klassy’s predecessor, Jim Schmidt, who retired Aug. 1.

In his opening remarks, Chancellor Michael Amiridis thanked Schmidt for growing and expanding athletic offerings before symbolically passing the torch to Klassy, who he described as a UIC ambassador “hungry for success.”

“We chose [Klassy] because of his passion, energy and record — his experience at top-notch institutions,” said Amiridis, noting Klassy’s longtime involvement in intercollegiate athletics.

For more than 21 years, Klassy has held leadership positions at institutions such as George Washington University, University of Oregon, University of Alabama and Tulane University. In his most recent role, as a senior associate athletics director for external relations at George Washington University, his fundraising efforts resulted in two of the largest donations to athletics in the school’s history.

“We’re very eager to watch him put his talents to play at UIC,” Amiridis said.

Klassy has his sights set on four other goals: supporting UIC’s educational mission, enhancing the student-athlete experience, building better relationships with the city and surrounding communities, and playing — and winning —with integrity.

“We’re going to work on those things every day,” Klassy said. “It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but we’re ready to take this to the next level.”

He hopes his goals will help keep UIC Flames, fans and community members fired up.

“Students have a strong support base here,” said Klassy, adding that the UIC family was one reason why he made the switch to UIC. “So we want students and student-athletes to know that they’re supported, and that this is a place they can call home, not just for the next four or five years, but forever.”