August 26, 2011

Former Administrators to Receive Honor on Oct. 1

For their tireless efforts in helping elevate Eastern’s Athletic programs, six individuals will be honored with the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Service and Contribution Award

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2011 Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame
Service & Contribution Award

H. George Frederickson, Former President
Ken Dolan
, Former Assistant to the President
Russ Hartman
, Former Vice President for Business & Finance
Jim Kirschbaum
, Former Board of Trustees Chair
Ron Raver
, Former Athletic Director
Bill Shaw, Former Chief Financial Officer


They were relentless in their vision and faced a lot of tumult along the way. But 30 years later, after the school mesmerized the region with its 2010 NCAA Division I Football Championship, they deserve a debt of gratitude for what they accomplished through their perseverance.

Six former Eastern Washington University administrators will be honored on Oct. 1 with the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Service and Contribution Award for their tireless efforts in the 1970’s and the 1980’s in helping Eastern achieve and maintain NCAA Division I status and become a member of the Big Sky Conference.

The six administrators are headlined by former EWU President H. George Frederickson (1977-87), who spearheaded Eastern’s drive to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I status after being a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) for most of the school’s history.

Helping Frederickson and Eastern along that path were Ken Dolan (former assistant to the president), Russ Hartman (former vice president for business and finance), Jim Kirschbaum (former board of trustees chair) and Bill Shaw (former chief financial officer).

Also honored posthumously will be former athletic director Ron Raver, who was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001. Raver will be represented Oct. 1 by his wife, Karen, and son, Tim.

Along with five individual Hall of Fame inductees and the 1949-50 men’s basketball team, the recipients of the Service and Contribution Award will be honored at a breakfast and ceremony that starts at 9 a.m. on Oct. 1 at the Pence Union Building. The public is invited to attend (RSVP to 509-359-2463 or 1-800-648-7697) and the cost is $15 per person. They will also be honored at halftime of EWU’s football game against Weber State that begins at 12:35 p.m. Pacific time.

The Service and Contribution award was created in 2007 to recognize extraordinary achievements and contributions by individuals with a past association with the Eastern athletic department. This award, selected by the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Executive Committee, seeks to honor individuals who have contributed not only to EWU, but to other outside endeavors such as education, community service and coaching. John Lothspeich was given the first award in 2007, and others honored include Chuck Randall (2008), Jim Wasem Sr. (2009), Ernie Afaganis (2010) and Arthur C. “Woody” Woodward (2010).

 

Zornes leads the charge in recognizing vision and persistence . . .

If it wasn’t for the vision and persistence to upgrade Eastern’s athletic programs – and ultimately keep them at that level – Eastern would have never have had the opportunity to win last year’s NCAA Division I championship in football. That reality was not lost on former Eastern head football coach Dick Zornes, who passed along the idea to current athletic director Bill Chaves.

Zornes, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999, was involved for 26 years as a player, coach and administrator at Eastern. In 15 seasons at the helm as head coach from 1979-1993 during Eastern’s rise, Zornes had an 89-66-2 record with a Big Sky Conference Championship in 1992 and NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (then known as Division I-AA) Playoff berths in 1985 and 1992.

“Dick made a passionate case for honoring these individuals and crediting them with helping us become and remain a member of NCAA Division I and the Big Sky Conference,” said Chaves. “We all need to remember the efforts they and others put forth during a challenging time in our department’s history. We couldn’t be more delighted in honoring them in this way.”

With Frederickson leading the charge, new directives for intercollegiate athletics were set in motion in 1977 by the Intercollegiate Athletic Evaluation Committee, a 12-person group that included Dolan and was chaired by Fred S. Johns. Among the many details outlining the recommended governance, organization and funding of intercollegiate athletics, the “Johns Report” concluded that Eastern should “investigate national affiliation with the NCAA in an appropriate division.”

Frederickson began carrying out the directives, along with the assistance of Hartman, Dolan and Raver, who was named athletic director in 1979. Eastern moved through the ranks of NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I, and eventually was granted membership in the Big Sky Conference beginning in the 1987-88 school year. Said Frederickson regarding Eastern's rise to Division I, "There is simply no doubt that without the leadership of Ronald Raver this would never have happened. Ronald Raver made that road possible." Raver passed away on March 1, 2002 at the age of 63.

Eastern originally applied for membership in the Big Sky Conference in 1978, but it wasn’t strongly considered until the mid-1980’s when the athletics program had grown to be a force in the region and appeared to be on the threshold of becoming a member. However, after an ill-timed on-campus controversy regarding athletic funding, Eastern was denied membership on May 22, 1985, and was forced to re-assess its plan.

Nonetheless, the EWU Board of Trustees affirmed Eastern’s commitment to NCAA Division I athletics, and the men’s teams proved they belonged by enjoying incredible success as an independent in the mid-1980’s – especially against Big Sky competition. Meanwhile, the women were a force to be reckoned with at Division I in the newly-created Mountain West Athletic Conference. Eventually, the merger of the Mountain West with the Big Sky helped Eastern achieve its goal of becoming a member of the Big Sky.

“It’s the beginning of a new era in the history of the university,” Raver told the Spokane Spokesman-Review on Dec. 10, 1986 – the day Eastern was finally admitted. “I think some day we’ll look back and say this had a major impact on how our university is perceived.”

But the Eagles weren’t at the end of the bumpy road quite yet. After Frederickson departed Eastern in 1987, Eastern still had to overcome criticism of its expenditures for intercollegiate athletics with a seemingly endless string of reviews. Eventually, thanks to the efforts of Shaw and Kirschbaum, in April 1990 the Eastern Board of Trustees unanimously approved continuing its programs at the NCAA Division I and Big Sky Conference levels. That decision was reaffirmed a year later and in subsequent years. Kirschbaum served on the BOT from 1987-99, including three years as chair.

The road hasn’t been without a few ruts since then, but the 2011-12 school year will be Eastern’s 25th as a member of the 49-year-old conference – and 29th at the NCAA Division I level.

Since joining the Big Sky Conference, Eastern teams have won 16 Big Sky regular-season team titles, including six by the volleyball team and five by football. Eastern has had 25 student-athletes honored as league MVP in their respective sports, including 12 in football. In the sport of track and field, 91 individual conference championships have been won with EWU athletes winning 11 Athlete of the Meet accolades.

Aside from the national title, the high point of Eastern’s existence in NCAA Division I and the Big Sky Conference came in the 2009-10 school year when 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.

Eastern won its first-ever Big Sky Men’s All-Sports Trophy in the 2005-06 school year. In 2004-05, with league championships in volleyball and soccer, the women finished a best-ever third in the women’s competition. In fall 2004, Eastern won league titles in football, volleyball and soccer, becoming the first-ever league school to accomplish that feat. In the 2001-2002 school year, the Eagles equaled their best-ever finish of third in the Combined Big Sky All-Sports Trophy competition.

 

Frederickson attends NCAA Championship Game with pride . . .

Frederickson, now Edwin O. Stene distinguished professor of public administration at the University of Kansas, attended the NCAA Division I championship game in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 7. He walked outside the stadium for hours before the game, taking in the atmosphere with an ear-to-ear smile as thousands of Eagle fans partied long and hard. Inside the stadium, he watched the Eagles rally for a 20-19 victory over Delaware, which merely put the finishing touches on a dream that had already come to fruition.

The night before, he presented to current Eastern President Rodolfo Arevalo the game ball that was used in Eastern’s first-ever Big Sky Conference football game on Sept. 12, 1987. The day of the title game, in an editorial in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, his sentiments of where Eastern was and what it became were expressed from the heart.

“Well before Eastern’s present student-athletes were born, Eastern was a state college,” he wrote. “After it gained university designation in 1977, intercollegiate athletics was one of the next big challenges that faced the university. Over the years, sports at Eastern had received little attention and had been allowed to drift, so a blue-ribbon panel was appointed to study the problem, consider alternatives and make recommendations

“After a thorough study, the panel made a bold set of recommendations for action, including seeking status in Division I-AA of the NCAA (the previous designation for what is now the Division I Football Championship Subdivision) and seeking membership in the Big Sky Conference. The reasoning of the panel was that in athletics as well as in academics Eastern was like universities in Montana, Idaho, Utah and Arizona. The Eastern board of trustees endorsed these objectives, and the university set about attempting to achieve them.

“To say that the initial response to these plans was mostly critical would be an understatement. The media suggested that Eastern ‘did not know its place.’ Some alumni rather strongly preferred the status quo. Some faculty and students were concerned about a possible overemphasis on sports and were worried about the costs. Nevertheless, the university began the step-by-step implementation of the plan. Eastern got on the football and basketball schedules of all the Big Sky universities. Eastern embraced Title IX, which called for equal status for women’s athletics. The politics of getting the support of the Big Sky universities was afoot.”

“Acceptance in NCAA Division I came quickly. But year after year Eastern’s application for membership in the Big Sky conference was rejected. Each time Eastern was knocked down, those opposed to the plan called for it to be abandoned. Yet each time Eastern picked itself up, dusted itself off, prepared a new application and returned to the politics of Big Sky membership. Finally in 1986, after a seven-year struggle, Eastern was accepted, effective in 1987. In the 25 years that have followed, Eastern has proved to be a steadfast, reliable and trusted member of the Big Sky Conference. More important, Eastern has grown from strength to strength in the breadth and quality of its academic programs.

“And now, because of that struggle of long ago, Eastern is in another kind of struggle, playing for the national football championship. Go Eagles.”

 

 

A timeline of roller-coaster success and rejection . . .

 

1977

 [May 19] The “John’s Report” is released after a committee was formed by Eastern President Dr. H. George Frederickson to thoroughly examine the existing athletic program. The report endorsed upgrading of the EWU athletic program to Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Within the next year, Eastern was accepted as an independent member of NCAA Division II and made its initial application to join the Big Sky Conference.

 [Fall] Eastern Washington State College becomes Eastern Washington University at the start of the fall term.

 

1978

[Nov. 23] Eastern officially leaves the Evergreen Conference after a 31-year association. Eastern’s final EvCo football game was on Nov. 11, 1978, and the final men’s basketball game in that league had taken place on Feb. 25, 1978. However, Eastern remained as an independent member of the NAIA for several more seasons while also being affiliated with NCAA Division II.

 

1979

[June 1] Long-time assistant basketball coach and head tennis coach Ron Raver becomes athletic director, helping put in further motion the plan for Eastern to become a member of NCAA Division I and the Big Sky Conference.

 

1982

[Spring] Eastern’s baseball team joins the Pacific 10 Conference Northern Division.

Eastern’s women’s athletic programs become charter members of the Mountain West Athletic Conference. The league would eventually become the Big Sky Conference in 1987.

 [November 13] Eastern wins the NCAA Division II men’s cross country championship in ankle-deep snow in St. Cloud, Minn.

 

1983

[June 23] Eastern’s petition for re-classification of all Eastern sports to NCAA Division I is accepted by the NCAA, beginning with the 1983-84 school year for all sports but football. That sport began competition in NCAA Division I-AA (later changed to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision) in 1984.

 

1984

[May] Eastern receives an invitation by the Big Sky Conference Presidents’ Council to submit a formal proposal for membership.

 

1985

[May 22] After an exhaustive effort that lasted nearly a decade, Eastern’s request to join the Big Sky Conference is denied by the league’s Presidents’ Council.

[November] In just its second season as a member of the NCAA Championship Subdivision, Eastern’s football team advances to the quarterfinals of the playoffs after upsetting Idaho 42-38 in the first round. That was one of six victories over Big Sky Conference foes that season for the Eagles.

 

1986

[March 2] Eastern’s men’s basketball team finishes 20-8, including seven wins over Big Sky Conference members. Eastern swept Idaho, Idaho State and Gonzaga.

[March 7] Eastern’s women’s basketball team defeats Idaho 62-60 in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament before falling to host Montana in the title game. Idaho would go on to win the championship in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.

[June] Greg Jones earns All-America honors in the high jump with a leap of 7-3 to place second at the NCAA Division I Championships.

[December 10] The Big Sky Conference admits Eastern to the league, effective July 1, 1987. At the same time, the Mountain West Athletic Conference for women’s sports merged with and became the Big Sky Conference.

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