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EWU President Recommends Staying In The Big Sky Conference

Courtesy of Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University’s interim president says the university should not change its athletics status as it addresses the university’s budget deficit.

David May considered whether Eastern should drop out of the Big Sky Conference and move to a lower level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.He told the Board of Trustees on Friday that his research shows that might save the university money, but those are offset by other factors.

“It would probably decrease our ability to recruit students from the state and the region. As our local experts believe, a Division 1 program is a differentiating factor in recruitment," he said.

May says student athletes bring important ethnic diversity and strong academic performance to the university.

He says the university benefits from remaining at a higher athletic level. He referred to the increased interest from potential students when the men’s basketball team played in the national basketball tournament in March.

“An increased number of views on pages related to other aspects of the university, such as academics, application process, academic calendar or student life would indicate that the interest generated extended beyond athletics programs," May said.

He says the athletics department will be required to stay within its assigned budget. The university will continue supporting the 14 sports programs required to keep Eastern in the NCAA, but may drop support for other athletic programs.

The trustees are scheduled to act on May’s recommendation next month.

Meanwhile, the university has eliminated some programs as it works to tighten its focus on core programs. Those include the bachelor’s degree for journalism and several music degree programs. Other music programs will continue, but with changes.

The trustees voted Friday to add a doctoral program in education.