EWU Board Votes to Keep Athletics in Division I

June 11, 2021 By David Meany

During a special meeting on Friday, June 11, the Eastern Washington University Board of Trustees (BOT) accepted the plan presented by interim President David May to keep EWU Athletics in Division I and the Big Sky Conference. The proposal calls for creating a fiscally responsible path forward through increased fundraising and a refocusing of resources.

May delivered his recommendation to the BOT on May 21, after a ten-month Athletics Review process that included stakeholders from EWU and the community, as well as an independent consultant’s report. Interim President May’s analysis emphasized that athletics is an integral part of the EWU fabric and mission, providing opportunities and fostering diversity campus-wide. He believes the potential benefits of athletics are most effectively realized by staying in the Big Sky.

“I am thankful to the EWU Board of Trustees for accepting my recommendation to stay at the Division 1 level,” says interim EWU President David May. “We will immediately begin work on a plan to create a sustainable path for athletics so it can remain a vibrant part of the culture of our campus and community.”

“We are so appreciative of the public support Eagle Athletics continues to receive, and that enthusiasm was reaffirmed today as our Board of Trustees voted to accept the recommendation from David May,” says Lynn Hickey, EWU Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics. “This is also a call to action, and we are committed to continued improvement in being more efficient in operations and fundraising as well as working to strengthen our engagement with the whole campus.”

In approving the recommendation, many BOT members reiterated the need to improve private fundraising for athletics while ensuring the department follows a clear budgetary plan. Members also talked about the importance of athletics to the institution.

“I believe Dr. May’s recommendation for staying in NCAA Division I and the Big Sky Conference is the right thing to do,” says BOT Chair Vicki Wilson. “I believe athletics is a big part of our mission and our vision. When I visit with other alumni like myself, the conversation often starts with athletics but always moves into academics and our programs and what they do for the ‘whole’ university experience for Eastern Washington University.”

Interim President May says he hopes to present a complete plan to the BOT at its regular October board meeting.