The 49-year-old Zorich, a native of Chicago, played on Notre Dame's 1988 national championship team and was with the Bears from 1991-96 before playing his last NFL season with the Washington Redskins in 1997.
Zorich replaces interim athletic director Tracy Dildy and will start work next week, school officials said.
Chicago State has been hit hard by budget problems in recent years and is looking for two new basketball coaches. Chicago State fired Dildy as men's basketball coach after a 3-29 season.
Angela Jackson was let go after the women's basketball team suffered through an NCAA Division I record 59-game losing streak before beating Utah Valley on Feb. 8.
Zorich most recently was athletic director at Prairie State, a community college in Chicago Heights.
Zorich ran into financial difficulties after his NFL career and was sentenced in 2013 to three years of probation following a federal tax evasion conviction.