A recipient of the 2012-13 Athletic Director of the Year Award, Bill Chaves enters his eighth year at the helm of the Eastern Washington University Athletic Department in the 2014-15 school year.
Chaves, 48, was honored by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) as one of 28 winners of the Under Armour AD of the Year Award (ADOY) in the 2012-13 school year. He received his award during the James J. Corbett Awards Luncheon on Saturday, June 15, 2013, at NACDA's 48th Annual Convention at the World Center Marriott Resort in Orlando, Fla.
In addition, Chaves was selected to speak at The Rising Athletic Directors Conference at the Monte Carlo Resort and Hotel in Las Vegas in July 2013. He serves as a member of that organization’s Board of Advisors.
Highlighted by the installation of the first-ever red synthetic surface in America, the tenure of Eastern Chaves has been punctuated by progress and innovation – but with a definite eye toward the future.
He has played an integral role in advancing the vision of the Gateway Project, a proposed multi-use building and seating expansion project on the East side of Roos Field on the EWU campus in Cheney, Wash. Chaves and other administrators completed a schematic design and feasibility study in 2012, and the group is currently identifying funding sources in preparation for actual architectural design and construction of the proposed $60-70 million project.
Also recently, Chaves has administered the development of “Eagle Week” at EWU in the spring; helped develop a partnership with the Dave Cotton Golf Classic to benefit Meals on Wheels; served on Eastern’s Strategic Planning Committee; and negotiated EWU’s new agreement with adidas.
In winter 2013, Chaves was appointed to serve from 2013-17 on the NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct. The 11-person committee is comprised of other administrators, as well as a student-athlete, from NCAA Division I, II and III institutions. The committee recommends policies, practices and initiatives for sportsmanship and ethical conduct in intercollegiate athletics consistent with the educational mission and goals of NCAA members. It meets twice a year at the NCAA offices in Indianapolis, Ind.
Chaves came to Eastern after three years as an associate athletic director for external affairs at Baylor University. He has vast experience in marketing and development at several schools, including two years at Northern Colorado (1999-2001), which became a member of the Big Sky Conference in the 2006-07 school year.
The high point of Eastern’s existence in NCAA Division I and the Big Sky Conference has come under the direction of Chaves. Eastern’s football program won its final 11 games of the 2010 season and captured the NCAA Division I Championship. It was Eastern’s fourth national team title, but its first as a member of NCAA Division I. The football program, with six playoff berths in a nine-year span (2004-12), also advanced to the semifinals in 2012.
He provided the initial idea and was a driving force in having Eastern’s football field at Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field) re-surfaced in red. The project was completed in September 2010 and the Eagles were 8-0 on the red Sprinturf surface at “The Inferno” en route to the national title.
Besides the turf project, his tenure in Cheney, Wash., has included several key fund-raising initiatives to help the athletic department grow and keep pace with other NCAA Division I programs. Most recently, as part of a $1.1 million project, EWU installed a new videoboard/scoreboard at Roos Field and a new videoboard at Reese Court. In addition, a seating project at Reese Court has provided new seating options and upgrades for fans for the 2012-13 school year and beyond.
Eastern also recently completed a $1.5 million locker-room project that enhanced all of Eastern’s 14 athletic programs. His guidance also helped provide a new throws area for the track and field program, as well as improvements to the strength and conditioning center and a dedicated student-athlete academic facility.
In addition, membership in the Eagle Athletic Association reached a record milestone with more than 1,000 members. He has also negotiated new media agreements for Eastern radio and television broadcasts, as well as a new third-party sponsorship sales agreement.
Also lucrative for Eastern has been his negotiating and scheduling of football games against several NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools, including Washington, Washington State, Oregon State and Oregon. Games versus UW and WSU mark the first time in more than 100 years that Eastern has played either of its in-state rivals on the gridiron. In addition, Chaves has helped re-establish games with NCAA basketball powerhouse Gonzaga on a nearly annual basis.
In the community, Chaves has made regular speaking engagements, including Kiwanis and Rotary, and is a member of the Spokane Athletic Club. He has worked on numerous proposals in association with the Spokane Regional Sports Commission, and initiated a partnership with Special Olympics-Washington where all of its athletic programs assist with several initiatives each academic year.
Eastern’s success on the field and in the classroom has also been impressive. All of EWU’s sports teams had average grade point averages in excess of 3.0 in spring quarter of 2013, with student-athletes collectively boasting a 3.27 average GPA.
In the 2009-10 school year, Eastern won the Sterling Savings Big Sky Presidents’ Cup Award. The winner of this award is determined by overall athletic success combined with team grade point averages, graduation rates, and all-conference performers with grade point averages of at least 3.0. The Eagles jumped to the top of the Presidents’ Cup standings with a first-place finish in academics, compiling the highest overall grade point average in the league at 3.244.
Currently, all of EWU’s athletic programs have an NCAA APR (academic progress rate) of 930 or better. For the first time in school history, all of Eastern’s teams had a team grade point average above 3.00 in fall quarter 2012. He continues to pass along three key philosophies to Eastern student-athletes: 1) Earn your Eastern degree; 2) Be a leader; and 3) Perform athletically to your highest level.
Eastern has earned multiple Big Sky Player of the Year honors during his EWU tenure, and the football team has garnered a Walter Payton Award (Bo Levi Mitchell) and two Buck Buchanan Awards (J.C. Sherritt and Greg Peach). Under his direction, Eastern started a year-end awards show and celebration for student-athletes called the “EeeWoos.”
In addition, four EWU coaches have won Coach of the Year honors in the Big Sky Conference – Miles Kydd (volleyball), Wendy Schuller (women’s basketball), Darren Haworth (tennis) and Beau Baldwin (football). Baldwin also earned national coach of the year accolades after his team’s 2010 national title.
EWU’s football program is just one of five schools nationally who has made the FCS Playoffs six of the past nine years (four of six since ‘07). Eastern’s women’s basketball program has made two national post-season appearances twice in the past four years, representing two of the three appearances total in school history (WNIT in 2010 and 2013, NCAA in 1987).
On the field in 2009-10, Eastern won its first-ever Big Sky Conference women’s basketball title and advanced to the National Invitation Tournament. The football, soccer and volleyball teams all finished as the league runner-up, with football advancing to the FCS Playoffs.
His first year at the helm at EWU began with the football team finishing 9-4 and advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs. Also in 2007-08, Eastern won the Big Sky Conference title in men’s tennis – Eastern’s first-ever championship in that sport and first BSC title overall in any sport since 1995.
In his second year at the helm, Eastern’s volleyball program won the Big Sky regular season title and host status for the 2009 league tournament.
Chaves served four years as chair of the NCAA Administration Cabinet from 2008-12, including the final year as chair. The cabinet, which consists of 21 members from various Division I institutions and conference offices, is responsible for administrative functions within Division I athletics, including governance issues, review of applications for reclassification to Division I status, and all committee selections.
Chaves has also served on the Big Sky Conference Championship and Competition Committee since 2008, including as chair from 2010-12. Since 2010 he has also served on the league’s Eligibility Committee. Under Eastern President Dr. Rodolfo Arevalo, he serves on the President’s Executive Council and the President’s Cabinet.
In addition, he helped shepherd EWU through a major infractions case and ultimately a victory in the appeal process. Eastern became the only school since a new format was adopted to win an appeal (11 different cases). The Eagles are no longer on probation (2008-2011).
Besides three years at Baylor, Chaves was also at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst as an assistant athletic director (2002-04) and at Northeastern University as director of external affairs for the athletic department (2001-02). All seven of those years he served under his mentor and Baylor’s current athletic director, Ian McCaw.
Chaves was also sports information director from 1990-95 at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn. Chaves received his bachelor’s degree in sports administration from Saint Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Fla., in 1988. He received the first of two master’s degrees from Oklahoma State in 1991 in health, physical education and leisure. He earned a second master’s degree in sport management in 1999 from Massachusetts.
Chaves points with pride to Baylor’s achievements and milestones in his three years there. A private school of about 14,000 students in Waco, Texas, Baylor competes for an audience with the likes of Texas, a public school with 48,000 students located just 100 miles away in Austin. Both are members of the Big 12 Conference.
At Eastern, Chaves faces similar challenges with four NCAA Division I schools in a 100-mile radius of EWU. The other Division I schools in the area include Gonzaga, Washington State and Idaho. The universities of Washington and Montana, as well as four Oregon schools, are also nearby.
Chaves was born June 2, 1966. He and his wife of 19 years, Liz, have a daughter, Erin (14), and two sons, Derek (11) and Kevin (9).