Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Chaves leaves EWU for North Dakota post


January 18, 2018

Bill Chaves presided over a notable overhaul of Eastern Washington University athletics since 2007. He will seek to do the same in his new job at the University of North Dakota.

It didn't take much effort for Bill Chaves to outlast his immediate predecessors when he was hired in August 2007 to become Eastern Washington University's athletics director.

In a period of two years from 2005 to August of 2007 before Chaves was hired, five different people had been in the position in one title or another since Scott Barnes left in the summer of 2005 for a job at the University of Washington.

But in the 10-plus years that followed, not only did Chaves establish some stability in office but under his watch, EWU athletics enjoyed, arguably, a decade of unprecedented accomplishments.

Chaves now takes his skills to the University of North Dakota - a fellow Big Sky member for now - where he will become the Fighting Hawks new AD. First announced about two weeks ago that he was a finalist for the position at the Grand Forks school, Chaves officially announced his move on Twitter, Jan. 13.

"After a decade of memories that I will carry for a lifetime, I have been offered and accepted the UND AD's position," he tweeted. "Please know my family and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to many in the EWU (Cheney/Spokane) community..."

Chaves met the media in Grand Forks on Jan. 16, a year to the date of the press conference held in Cheney to announce that head football coach Beau Baldwin had accepted a position as offensive coordinator at the University of California-Berkeley.

With Chaves in the AD's chair, Eastern, following the hiring of Baldwin as head coach in 2008, saw its football program elevate itself first with the installation of unique red artificial turf in 2010. That same year the Eagles went on to win the Football Championship Subdivision national championship, 20-19 over Delaware in Frisco, Texas.

That season jump-started the EWU program, which earned seven FCS playoff berths in those 10 years. Three times Eastern teams reached the semifinals.

Men's basketball also had a rebirth earning three consecutive postseason berths, including the school's second-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015. Eastern's women's basketball program and soccer have also prospered in the last decade.

But of all the accomplishments on the field, one of the things Chaves was always most proud of were the three Big Sky President's Cup trophies which single out the league's top academic and athletic teams.

"On behalf of Eastern Washington University, I extend my sincere thank you to Bill Chaves for 10 great years of service to EWU Athletics," EWU President Dr. Mary Cullinan said in a statement released Jan. 13. "I wish him the very best at the University of North Dakota in this exciting next chapter of his professional career."

Reports indicated that the 51-year-old Chaves will earn close to $180,000 for the move, up from $130,000 at Eastern. He and his wife Liz have three children, a daughter, Erin 17 and two sons, Derek 14 and Kevin 12.

Details on who will lead the department in the interim have not been announced. "I will be working with Bill Chaves immediately to implement a transition plan as the university begins the process of finding a new athletic director," Cullinan added in the release.

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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