Bill Chaves, who presided over more than a decade of unprecedented athletic success at Eastern Washington University, will now attempt to do the same at North Dakota.
The decision – faster than expected – was announced Saturday by UND President Mark Jackson following a week of interviews and public forums with four candidates.
“I am excited about the impact Bill Chaves’ leadership will have on an already excellent Athletics program here at UND,” Kennedy said. “All of the candidates fared well, but in the end Bill was a notch ahead of the other candidates.”
Meanwhile in Cheney, EWU President Mary Cullinan said, “I extend my sincere thank you to Bill for 10 great years of service to EWU Athletics. I wish him the very best at the University of North Dakota in this exciting next chapter of his professional career.”
Cullinan added that she “will be working with Bill immediately to implement a transition plan as the university begins the process of finding a new athletic director.”
Details on that plan, including interim leadership and a timetable for choosing Chaves’ success, will be made public “when details are finalized within the next several days,” Cullinan said.
Neither North Dakota nor Chaves offered a hint as to when he would assume duties at UND, but Chaves said he was excited to begin a new challenge.
“I am deeply honored to have been selected to serve as UND’s next Athletics Director,” Chaves said in a statement. “My family and I are excited to become active members of the UND family and the Grand Forks community, both of which we have heard so much about.
“Together, I am confident we will continue UND’s tradition of academic and athletic excellence,” added Chaves, who was able to accomplish both since he took over at Eastern in 2007.
Chaves, 51, has enjoyed success on and off the field at Eastern. The football program has earned seven playoff berths during a 10-year span from 2007-16, and won the FCS national title in 2010.
The men’s basketball team has appeared in three consecutive postseason tournaments, including the NCAAs in 2014-15.
With a nod to Eastern, Chaves confirmed the news on social media Saturday.
“After a decade of memories that I will carry for a lifetime, I have been offered and accepted the UND AD’s position,” Chaves posted on Twitter. “My family and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to many on the EWU (Cheney/Spokane) community.”
During Chaves tenure, five 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), Beau Baldwin (football) and Jim Hayford (men’s basketball). Baldwin also earned national coach of the year accolades after his team’s 2010 national title.
All of EWU’s athletic programs have a current NCAA APR (academic progress rate) of 930 or better.
Chaves also has a hockey background – a big plus at UND, which has won several NCAA titles, the last one in 2016. A New England native, he also worked as sports information director at Quinnipiac, which has a hockey program.
Chaves and his wife of 22 years, Liz, have a daughter, Erin (17), and two sons, Derek (14) and Kevin (12).
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review’s sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.