OLIVER MCKENNA | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE
WSU’s new director of athletics, Patrick Chun, comes to the Palouse with the skills to resolve the program’s most pressing issue: money.
After Bill Moos’ departure from the position in November, the school took time to find just the right man to fill his shoes, hiring a guy who did quite a lot for Florida Atlantic University.
In his last five years, the FAU athletic department set records in athletic achievement, revenue generation and community outreach. Chun helped to build a new tennis complex, beach volleyball courts, a soccer field renovation and a brand new academic center with the donations that he brought in, highlighted by a $16-million donation that was the largest in the school’s history.
“People all across the country know how supportive the Cougar nation is,” Chun said in his introductory press conference. “We’re going to make sure people understand what exactly is happening at Washington State University.”
Needless to say, one of Chun’s most appealing assets is his fundraising ability, and WSU needs it badly.
Moos’ main goal at WSU when he was hired in 2010 was to rebuild the football program, and he did just that. After his renovations to the football facilities, the team has seen a lot more success, playing in the Holiday Bowl in back-to-back seasons and making a push for a Pac-12 title.
“His imprint is on this campus and in many places,” Chun said of Moos, “and he left us with great momentum to build upon.”
But all of his efforts came at a cost — one that has raised the athletic debt to roughly $50 million. That is now Chun’s job to clean up, but at least he’s the right man for the job.
With this in mind, WSU President Kirk Schulz has made sure that dealing with fundraising is at the top of Chun’s to-do list. Schulz implemented a $25,000-per-year incentive in his contract for reaching agreed-upon fundraising goals.
“When we did the AD search I mentioned that we needed to bring in a person that had great fundraising background,” Schulz said. “The financial part is where we need most of our effort, and Pat brings that to the table.”
Chun isn’t technically employed at WSU until Feb. 5 and he doesn’t plan on making any immediate changes. His main goal now is to immerse himself into the Cougar fan base as much as he can, as well as build relationships with coaches and athletes.
“The athletics department, most especially me, will be out and visible on campus, in the community, and throughout the state,” Chun said. “I’m just trying to learn, listen and get the student athletes, the coaching staff and the staff to like me. We’re going to build some trust and spend some time together.”
Because he hasn’t been here long, many coaches are still meeting him for the first time and getting to know him, but they are excited about the new era.
“I love the experience, I love his energy,” men’s basketball Head Coach Ernie Kent said. “People that I’ve talked to that have had a chance to sit with him face to face, they all talk about his energy and say he wants to do things the right way, and wants to move everything in the right direction. So that’s an exciting time for us.”
Time will tell whether WSU made the right hire, but all signs point toward a bright future for the athletic department with Chun at the helm.