Interim President recommends EWU stay a Division 1 sports university

Eastern Washington University
Credit: EWU

CHENEY, Wash. — Interim President David May on Friday issued a recommendation that Eastern Washington remain a Division 1 sports university and continue competition in the Big Sky conference. 

In a presentation to the Board of Directors, May said moving down from Division 1 would be detrimental to the mission of the university and hurt the diversity of the student body. 

The future of EWU’s athletic department has been up in the air. Earlier this year, the university commissioned a report from the Pictor Group to determine the best direction for the department. 

The six-month review consisted of on-site visits, examination of documents, and interviews and surveys with students, faculty and staff.

In the report, the group outlined issues related to “declining enrollment and corresponding budget cuts.” It also cited athletics as a way of boosting the university’s reputation, citing success in basketball and football, as well as the university’s famous red turf.

The report cited that the athletics budget has been reduced significantly over the past four to five years, along with other departments. EWU is also on track to go deeper into the hole with decreasing enrollment, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The report laid out four options for the athletic department to consider: Remain a D1 team, reclassify to D1 subdivision (non-football), reclassify to D2 or reclassify to D3. 

The report said EWU’s funding for the athletic department has fallen “well below the median for Division I-FCS and Eastern’s peer institutions in the Big Sky Conference.” 

The board will consider May’s recommendation and will make their decision at a later time. 

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