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The Interview: 1-on-1 with Bill Chaves

Bill Chaves UND

Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography

What’s different about approaching this Athletics Director position compared to your preparation for the Eastern Washington job?

“I think you come in with a little more I guess experience. There are going to be issues. Regardless of the date you occupy a seat, there’s going to be a pile of stuff waiting for you, and you have to manage it, handle it, and handle it well. I think there’s a patience piece that I have learned over the last decade that I’m not one to, I try to stay between the 40s, if that makes sense, because I just know administratively, if you can be really stable for your department and your student-athletes, for your coaches, for your staff, that can go a long ways and hopefully I can provide that.”

You were actually tweeting about North Dakota hockey back during its championship run in 2016, using #BigSkyHockey, and now here you are about to start your job as the AD here.

Bill Chaves UND

“The fact UND was the only school who had ‘hockey,’ I thought it was unique, and I just enjoy watching hockey so I thought it was a way to support a school who just came into the league as well. I thought it was a good way for us to connect and bond a little bit. I’ve appreciated UND during the five-plus years they’ve been in the Big Sky. I think with Brian (Faison) and the staff, Daniella (Irle) — and I wish her the best as she moves on to Knox — they have done a tremendous job over the past 10 years and I’m just excited about taking the baton and moving. I didn’t set out to do anything other than enjoy watching it and kind of like America does right now, you tweet when you watch and sometimes you have to be careful when you tweet. It is ironic looking back. There was no grand plan, just an irony.”

“He was one of the earliest ADs to get a Twitter account and then all this Twitter content is hockey and I’m like Bill, what’s going on, what’s the why and he’s like, I just like it. … He’s the only guy I know to this day that owns at Hartford Whalers hat.” – Ken Halpin, Winthrop University Director of Athletics

What was a part of that attraction for you coming to North Dakota and will that attraction work with hiring coaches and recruiting athletes down the road?

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“I love the fact that UND is heading back to the Summit and rekindling some of those rivalries with the other Dakota schools and the other programs that are in the Summit for the majority of the sports. I think that will help as well. I just believe that it will be very attractive for potential recruits and coaches.

“We have to take care of our own business and our own shop, and I think that’s something that I’ve learned at Eastern. I was very cognizant and aware of the landscape that I was in the midst of, especially with Gonzaga 15 minutes away, Washington State 90 minutes away and Idaho is 90 minutes away also, and they’re back in the Big Sky. And Division III Whitworth who is pretty good in men’s basketball – they’re in the Top 5 in Division III. It’s a cluttered space, and I know this, that you have to take care of your own business. It’s going to sound cliché but you need to be the best you can be and I think that’s what will attract folks because when we come in and they’ll feel a level of sincerity when you walk through the doors, that if this is a fit for you, we’re going to take care of you and you’re going to have a great experience.”

“It’s a great time for a transition, we’re going into the Summit, Bill is going to bring a different kind of energy, a different kind of focus.” – Daniella Irle, Knox College Director of Athletics

You famously hired Beau Baldwin three months into the Eastern job, so you’re experience is validated. What do you think of the North Dakota football program and what Bubba Schweigert has done?

Bill Chaves UND

“He’s done a very good job since he’s been there. In 2016, it was a stellar year and unfortunately, some injuries almost curtailed the season this past year, and that can happen, there’s no doubt about it. I’m excited about working with Bubba. I’ve met him a few times through the Big Sky meetings, and I’ve said to the coaches in interviews, I don’t think anyone comes in with a magic wand. I think you look to support your coaches in the best way they think they need support and then beyond that, you keep grinding every day.”

“He’s somebody who I had identified fairly early on that he was a future athletic director and it’s been a pleasure to be able to work with him.” – Ian McCaw, Liberty University Director of Athletics

You spent a lot of time with legendary AD Ian McCaw and you’ve been one yourself for a decade. What does it take to be good at this position?

“Here’s what I probably did learn the most, and it took me the most time to figure out, is you really need to be yourself. Whoever you are, and I would say even the first year as an AD, you’re trying to find your voice, and as you try to find your voice, you can’t deviate from who you are. You can’t go be somebody else. I think the same thing with the head coach, you have got to use the skillsets that got you there, and I think that’s what I learned the most.”

“Beau is the best coach in the history of the Big Sky, to my knowledge. When he gets a chance to hire, he doesn’t miss.” – Ken Halpin

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