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Staff Reporter 

Changing of the guard in EWU AD's chair


Last updated 12/27/2018 at 11:55pm

Bill Chaves presided over a notable overhaul of Eastern Washington University athletics since 2007, like the replacement of the antiquated Roos Field scoreboard.

Chaves leaves EWU for North Dakota post

After just over a decade on the job as Eastern Washington athletics director, Bill Chaves left Cheney for the opening at the University of North Dakota.

First announcing in early in January 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.

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

In a period of two years from 2005 to August 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.

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 in that period Eastern teams reached the semifinals and after his departure, was not only their fourth berth but also the Eagles' second trip to Frisco.

Men's basketball also had a rebirth earning three consecutive postseason trips, 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."

Hickey named to permanent role as athletics director

Lynn Hickey will not be picking up stakes and moving back to Texas anytime soon.

Named as interim athletics director in late January at Eastern Washington University following the resignation of Bill Chaves, Hickey earned the nod of the selection committee to become his replacement.

Chaves accepted a similar job at the University of North Dakota.

Hickey will have a slightly different title, that of associate vice president/director of Athletics at Eastern Washington University, effective immediately.

"I am truly honored and excited to lead Eastern's Athletics Department into the future," Hickey said in a news release from the university. "I want to continue the work I've started toward solidifying a diverse Athletics Department that is committed to academic achievement and competitive excellence."

Hickey, who has served as interim director since February, was officially introduced April 25, fulfilling the desire of university officials to have a decision made in the hunt for Chaves' replacement by the end of April.

EWU President Mary Cullinan tabbed the experienced administrator to oversee the department during a national search. That search produced 50 applicants from NCAA Division I institutions across the country, including Hickey and the other finalist, Utah Valley University AD Vince Otoupal.

Lynn Hickey addresses the audience at her official introduction as EWU athletics director and the successor to Bill Chaves.

"Lynn Hickey emerged as the ideal candidate to fill this important role at Eastern," Cullinan said. "During her time on campus she has also displayed excellent leadership skills and a vision for how to transform our athletics department into a model program."

Hickey's track record is what stood out to the search committee, co-chaired by Provost Scott Gordon and EWU board of trustees member Judge James Murphy.

"Lynn brings a wealth of experience to the position of Director of Athletics," Gordon said. "She has the perspective of being involved in athletics as a player, coach and longtime administrator and has been successful at every level and in every position."

Before coming to Eastern, Hickey served as associate vice president and director of athletics at the University of Texas, San Antonio (UTSA) for 18 years. Prior to UTSA, Hickey served as senior athletic director and senior woman administrator at Texas A&M, College Station.

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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