IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman Announces He Will Retire In January, 2016

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

The IHSA Board of Directors met for their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, January 12, where the Board announced that IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman (right) will retire on January 15, 2016.

“I have known for some time that the 2015-16 school year would be my final year,” said Hickman. “It was just a matter of figuring out the timing. Given the experience and continuity of our current staff and Board of Directors, I felt comfortable stepping aside a year from now.”

Hickman joined the IHSA as an Assistant Executive Director in 1991 was promoted to Associate Executive Director in 1999. He succeeded Dave Fry as the Association’s Executive Director in 2001, assuming the role following Fry’s retirement. Hickman is just the sixth individual to hold the position in the IHSA’s history, following Charles W. Whitten (1922-1942), Albert Willis (1942-1968), Harry Fitzhugh (1968-1978), Lavere L. Astroth (1978-1991) and Fry (1991-2002).

“Growing up I didn't know enough about the IHSA to dream about working here, but for the last 24 years I have lived the most challenging and rewarding job imaginable,” said Hickman. “I will be forever grateful to the individuals that gave me this opportunity, including the teachers and coaches at New Berlin High School who taught me lessons that helped me well beyond my days in school. As I reflect on my tenure here and look forward to my final year, I can say with absolute certainty that my life has been enriched by working for the Illinois High School Association. ”

Hickman’s tenure as Executive Director has included unprecedented growth in participation opportunities for students, as the IHSA added State Series tournaments in several sports and activities, including Boys Bowling, Competitive Cheerleading, Competitive Dance, Journalism and Boys & Girls Water Polo. In addition, the IHSA became the first state association in the country to offer Bass Fishing in 2011, while also adding programs for Athletes with Disabilities in several sports under Hickman’s leadership in 2012.

“The IHSA is viewed nationally as one of the top state high school associations in the country, and Dr. Hickman deserves credit for maintaining and advancing that standing,” said Wauconda High School Principal and IHSA Board President Dan Klett. “Marty has guided the IHSA through difficult issues during his tenure with integrity and humility, while furthering positive changes to athletics and activities. We are sad to see his tenure come to an end, but he will always be a part of the IHSA family.”

Born in Colorado, Hickman was raised in New Berlin, Illinois and attended Eastern Illinois University after graduating from New Berlin High School. He began his career in education as a teacher and coach at Girard High School. He later served as the principal of Bluffs Jr.-Sr. High School, Westmer Secondary School, and was named the principal of Monmouth High School where he remained until joining the IHSA staff. He also went on to earn a Master’s Degree from the University of Illinois-Springfield and his doctorate in education from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

Former Anna-Jonesboro High School Principal and Superintendent Jim Woodward worked alongside Hickman during his nine years on the IHSA Board of Directors (2003-2012). Commenting on Hickman’s impact, Woodward said, “Without a doubt, the membership schools and student participants were always at the forefront of his decisions and direction. I would personally like to thank him and commend him for his years of service to the IHSA membership schools and the hundreds of thousands of student participants that he has served. His footprint will always be embedded in the history of the IHSA.”

The IHSA Board announced that a timeline and process for determining Hickman’s replacement would be released at an upcoming Board meeting.


1. The Board approved a recommendation to extend the state final hosting agreement for Competitive Cheerleading with US Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington for five years, from 2016-2020.

2. The Board approved a recommendation to extend the state final hosting agreement for Boys Golf with three courses in Bloomington/Normal (Prairie Vista Golf Course, D.A. Weibring Golf Club, The Den at Fox Creek) for five years, from 2015-2019.

3. The Board approved a recommendation to extend the state final hosting agreement for Softball with the EastSide Centre in East Peoria for five years, from 2016-2020.

4. The Board approved a recommendation to extend the state final hosting agreement for Individual Wrestling with the State Farm Center in Champaign for five years, from 2016-2020.

IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman:

“We are pleased to announce the extensions of these state final contracts. One of the common threads between all of these state final hosts venues is the longstanding community support that makes it so easy for the IHSA to return year after year. We believe that each offers an outstanding venue and experience for the IHSA student-athletes participating there and appreciate their willingness to have us back.”


1. The Board sustained the Executive Director’s ruling on a student from Chicago (St. Francis De Sales). The student was ruled ineligible for non-compliance with IHSA By-laws 3.034.3 and 3.043.


At each meeting of the Board of Directors, there are certain items the Board discusses, but upon which no action is taken. The following is a report of those items from the January 12, 2015, agenda:

1. Representatives from the accounting firm Striegel Knobloch & Company LLC presented the annual IHSA audit for the 2013-14 fiscal year to the Board of Directors. Click here audit

2. The Board heard a report from the Executive Director on the All-State Academic Team deadline, which is February 13, 2015. Nomination forms are currently available for schools in the Schools Center.

3. The Board heard a report from the Executive Director on the Let’s Connect Conference that was held in Rosemont, Illinois on January 8-9. Staff members from state associations around the country whose responsibilities include IT, sportsmanship, student services and media relations met to discuss current practices and innovations.

4. The Executive Director provided the Board with a report of the recently verified results of this year’s Amendment Ballot voting. Three of the six proposals advanced by the Legislative Commission and voted on by the membership were approved. Click here to view amendments and voting results

5. The Board heard a report on the NFHS Winter Meeting held in Asheville, North Carolina from January 3-6, 2015.

6. The Board heard a report on the hosting bids for the Boys & Girls Basketball State Finals. Hosting bids were submitted for the following venues:

Boys Basketball

Peoria Civic Center (Peoria) – All classes

Sears Centre (Hoffman Estates – Class 3A/4A

State Farm Center (Champaign) – All classes

Girls Basketball

Redbird Arena (Normal) – All classes

Renaissance Coliseum (Peoria) – All classes