EWU Athletic Director Bill Chaves hired to same position at North Dakota


David Wallis / The Forum

Former EWU Athletic Director Bill Chaves at Roos Field, the first red synthetic field in America. Chaves has signed a four-year deal to lead North Dakota’s athletic department.

By Michael Brock, Sports Editor

EWU Athletic Director Bill Chaves has been hired to the same position at the University of North Dakota. The announcement was made by UND President Mark Kennedy on Saturday, Jan. 13 following a week of interviews and public forums in Grand Forks.

“I am excited about the impact Bill Chaves’ leadership will have on an already excellent Athletics program here at UND,” Kennedy said in a statement. “All of the candidates fared well, but in the end Bill was a notch ahead of the other candidates.”

Chaves has been EWU’s athletic director since 2007, overseeing ample success both athletically and academically. On the field, the football team won five Big Sky titles, while qualifying for the FCS Playoffs six times and capturing the FCS championship in 2010. Women’s basketball won the regular-season conference title in 2010, and have appeared in three WNIT Tournaments.

During Chaves’ tenure, men’s basketball made its second-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament in 2015. Women’s soccer has won back-to-back Big Sky titles, advancing to the NCAA tournament each of the past two seasons.

The Eagles have also excelled in the classroom during Chaves’ decade at the school. Over the past 31 quarters (since Fall 2007), EWU student-athletes have a collective grade point average of 3.47 and have registered at least a 3.0 GPA in each quarter.

Chaves is a two-time recipient (2012-13 and 2015-16) of national Athletic Director of the Year honors. During Chaves’ tenure, the school won three Big Sky Conference President’s Cups (2009-10, 2014-15 and 2015-16), which recognizes the league’s top all-around program based on proficiency both on the field and in the classroom.

On Jan. 13, Chaves took to Twitter to confirm the decision. “After a decade of memories that I will carry for a lifetime, I have been offered and accepted the UND AD’s position,” said Chaves. “Please know my family and I owes a huge debt of gratitude to many in the EWU (Cheney/Spokane) community.”

In a statement of her own, EWU President Dr. Mary Cullinan said, “On behalf of Eastern Washington University, I extend my sincere thank you to Bill Chaves for ten great years of service to EWU Athletics. I wish him the very best at the University of North Dakota in this exciting next chapter of his professional career.”

According to Cullinan, the pair will work together on a transition plan as the school begins its own athletic director hiring process. “Details on that plan, including interim leadership and a time table will be made public when details are finalized within the next several days,” said Cullinan.

UND—which captured the 2016-17 Big Sky President’s Cup—has a 17-sport NCAA Division I athletic program. Fifteen of the school’s teams will be moving to the Summit League this summer, while football will join the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2020.

But hockey may have been the ultimate pull on Chaves’ heartstrings. He has a background in the sport, growing up in New England as well as serving as Quinnipiac’s sports information director. The men’s hockey program at UND has won eight NCAA titles, and is consistently a powerhouse in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

On Jan. 13, UND Athletics released a statement regarding the hire, in which Chaves said, “I have been deeply honored to have been selected to serve as UND’s next Athletic Director. My family and I are excited to become active members of the UND family and the Grand Forks community […] Together, I am confident we will continue UND’s tradition of academic and athletic excellence.”

This year, Chaves earned $120,000 on a contract approved in 2013 by former EWU president Rodolfo Arevalo. It was set to expire on June 30. Chaves’ new deal with UND is reportedly worth four years at a $200,000 annual rate.

“Eastern will greatly miss Bill Chaves, who has created a lasting legacy for this university,” said Cullinan. “I wish him excellent continued success.”