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Bill Chaves was named as Eastern Washington University's Athletic Director on August 17, 2007. Chaves becomes Eastern's 13th athletics director in the last 40 years, including the ninth since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 school year and a member of the Big Sky Conference in 1987-88.
December, 2009

Dear Eagle Family,

As we begin the final month of 2009, our fall seasons came to an end with both the football and volleyball teams concluding their respective seasons.  Our volleyball program again put themselves into position to win a league championship but fell just short losing in five to eventual Big Sky Tournament Champion, Northern Colorado.  We will lose a number of talented seniors to graduation but the future remains bright as a pair of junior all-league middle blockers, Chenoa Coviare and Sara Todorovich, will anchor next year’s team. 

Football – Model of Consistency

Similarly to 2004 and 2007 when our team needed to win its final four regular season games of the year to earn an at-large berth in the FCS Playoffs, this year was no different and again the Eagles came through.  Although we would have all loved to see us make a deep run into the playoffs, a very solid SFA team knocked us out of the tournament this year.  Making the game especially tough was having to play them in Nacogdoches, Texas where they are undefeated at home. 

Reflecting on this year’s team accomplishments on the flight back from Texas, I began to wonder about some things regarding how Eastern has stacked up against the rest of the FCS primarily over the past six years.  In addition, it got me to thinking about what may be in store for us during the next six years (and beyond).

You should know that only eight schools (of 125 playing FCS football) or 6.4% have made the playoffs at least four times in the past six years (2004-09).  Eastern joins Montana, Southern Illinois, New Hampshire, James Madison, Richmond, Eastern Illinois and Appalachian St in this elite group.  Of these eight, all of the previous five national champions have been crowned from this group (James Madison, Richmond and App St. three times). 

I am making this point for a couple of reasons:

1. To win a national title, I believe that you must have a program that is consistent (i.e. make the playoffs).  As we all know, only one team ends up winning its final game while the other 15 in the tournament end up losing their final game.  But, if you never get into the tournament you will never give your program a chance to win.  The playoff field will expand to 20 teams next year and even with that expansion only 16% of the schools playing in the FCS will make it to postseason.

2. Appreciate what Eastern has been able to accomplish over this span of six years – it is the exception not the norm.

3. To win in the playoffs – you need to play home games.  If you chart the rise of both Montana and Appalachian St. football, the main factor in their ascension has been the ability to host (and win) playoff games.   Of these eight schools over the past six years (excluding the championship games which are played at a neutral site and through the first week of the 2009 playoffs), here is the breakdown of where games have been played:
  Home Away
Appalachian St. 11 0
Montana 11 1
S. Illinois 7 3
Richmond 3 5
JMU 3 5
UNH 2 8
E. Illinois 2 2
EWU 1 5

So what does this mean for us moving forward?  In my opinion, we need to get two things accomplished:
  • Grow our attendance and fan base – the formula is quite simple for obtaining home playoff games – either be a top four seed or outbid the competition monetarily when a game features two unseeded teams.   Without an average attendance of 10,000 or better the latter becomes that much more difficult.
  • Make continued improvements to Woodward Field so that the first bullet can be realized.  Two things really need to happen very soon:
1. Lay down synthetic field turf and
2. Replace our existing scoreboard with a state of the art score/video board. 

These two improvements will go a long way in improving our game day atmosphere as well as allowing us the best possible surface for our student-athletes to compete especially during inclement weather.  In addition, both the environmental aspects as well as the monetary savings that will be created in maintenance relief from field turf makes a tremendous amount of sense. 

I believe we have the ability to continue to be a tremendous “player” in the FCS world moving forward but we also must be realistic that we need to continue to grow and make significant improvements in all aspects of our program.  I will continue to challenge my staff to make these items a reality but of course it cannot be done without the help of our Eagle Family.  If you have enjoyed the successes of Eagle football over the past six years, I hope you will think about some ways that you might be of assistance as we continue to grow the program. 

Operation 1K
We are continuing to make a push for 1,000 members and many of you have already helped us by soliciting new members for the EAA – Thank you!! 

Women’s and Men’s Basketball
Both teams have begun their season with many Big Sky games to come.  Please call our ticket office and join us at Reese Court as we make a run for the Conference title in ’10.

Happy Holidays
Finally, to all of our faithful Eastern supporters – this is the season to reflect on the many gifts that we have as well as spending time with family and friends – to all of you from all of us – Happy Holidays!!

Best Wishes and Go Eagles!!!

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