The Eastern Washington University athletics department has been searching for promise in an athletic director for the last three years, where there have been four different name plates engraved including two interims. Now, with the number five, EWU is hoping they’ve found a keeper in Bill Chaves, who was introduced on August 17. Chaves, 41, spent the past three years of his 20 year athletic administration career with Baylor, which had the lowest budget in the Big 12 conference. While in Waco, Tex. he was the driving force behind the marketing efforts which led to the football program setting records in single season and single game attendance and from 2004-06, increased ticket revenue by 46 percent. Similar success would be welcomed at EWU where a small budget constrains an athletic department with big dreams. The EWU athletics budget was projected to be at a deficit of $322,000 at the end of last school year, according to former Athletic Director Darren Hamilton, who was fired in May for allegations of sexual harassment, but under further investigation were concluded to be unsubstantiated. Chaves said he hasn’t had the time to see what the deficit is, seeing that he has only been in Cheney less than a week. “I’ve still got to do major analysis of where we’re out. One thing we need to do is increase our operating efficiencies. If we can try to find some dollars in the budget currently that would be wonderful,” he said. “At the end of the day I believe that athletics exist to move the mission of the university forward. And if we can move the mission of the university forward and be the great front window for the university, I would hope that the university would find that the dollars that they invest in athletics is a wise investment.” Chaves acknowledged that EWU committed NCAA secondary violations and said that they are prone to happening in any school, most of the time not meaning to, and will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
“I don’t want to accept anyone traveling over the speed limit. Does it happen? Yes,” he said. “Are you intending to do it or not intending to do it? At the end of the day, at a coaching standpoint, everyone tries to follow the rules 100 percent. In this industry there are so many rules and they change that you could indeed break a rule and that’s when you have to report a secondary violation. That is not anyone’s goal to report secondary or major infractions. So what we need to do is make sure the infrastructure is in place so we have to support our coaches and educate our coaches.”
“If you’ve got the NCAA book, there’s a few rules in there,” laughed Chaves. “They make the secondary violation process a way for you to say, ‘you know what I either misinterpreted that rule or we did something that we need to self report.’ Once that occurs you do get something from the NCAA and they will have to deal with it internally and make sure that systems are in place to avoid that occurring it again.” Chaves said he’s confident in his abilities to bring EWU out of the negative and plans to get started right away. “I will continue to take the first month or so here to do some evaluation and listening and seeing where things are and figuring where the opportunities lie so we can move forward,” said Chaves.
“The good news is for us here is that I have different strategies from a business standpoint and will be employing them here and look forward to being here for a long time,” he added. An amped Bill Chaves is excited to get the ball rolling here at EWU, and show everyone that he was indeed the right choice for athletic director. “While I’m here I need to make it the best chapter possible. I don’t have all the answers right now, I will shortly have an idea of where our place in the intercollegiate landscape is, then what we need to do is get a plan together and articulate that plan to all of our stakeholders, whether its students, alumni, faculty and staff and get the word out that what were trying to do for the university is move athletics forward.”