By Kim Corriher and Alison Wayner
President Roderick J. McDavis today announced that a seasoned athletics director with a winning reputation, Wichita State's Jim Schaus, will become Ohio University's new director of athletics.
Schaus, 47, joins the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics after nine years as director of athletics at WSU. A graduate of Purdue University and West Virginia University, he has more than a quarter century of experience in intercollegiate and professional athletics administration. No start date has been established for Schaus, but he is hoping it will be "weeks, not months."
Schaus, who was born in West Virginia and talked of his ties to the area, says "every place I turn, (Ohio University) is the perfect fit…."I've always felt that this was the best job (in the Mid-American Conference).
"It's exciting to be back in Division I football, and my family wanted to be back in a real college town," Schaus said. "I feel very excited to have an opportunity to be the athletics director at Ohio."
McDavis agrees that Schaus and Ohio are a great match that goes beyond geography.
"When we set out to find a new director of athletics, we had an ambitious list of wants and needs," McDavis said. Those traits included great experience, someone with unwavering commitment to the academic mission and academic experience of student-athletes, a successful track record of wins and a leader who demonstrated high integrity," he said.
Also high on the list was a fiscally astute manager with proven fund-raising experience who could continue the momentum athletics has toward a sustainable budget.
"Jim comes to us with this and more," McDavis said.
With a considerable background in marketing and fundraising at the collegiate and professional levels, Schaus emerged as the candidate who could best lead the Bobcats, said Tom Davis, interim secretary to Board of Trustees, who chaired the search committee.
"As we moved through the process, it was clear that Jim was an individual who had the ability to develop a strong vision and had a seasoned quality about him that would be very beneficial to the needs of Ohio University right now," Davis said. "There is a deep quality of personal character about Jim that is very evident."
In his current and past roles, Schaus has proven he can balance the demands facing intercollegiate athletic departments today. The self-proclaimed challenge-seeker is looking forward to building on Ohio's strong foundation.
"This program has been very successful athletically and has quality facilities, but I believe in establishing a vision of excellence for this program to take it to even a higher level," Schaus said. "I think there is the opportunity to add value to the objectives and mission that the university has in Vision Ohio and throughout other areas of the campus."
At the helm of the Wichita Shockers program, Schaus was responsible for making WSU one of the most competitive programs in the Missouri Valley Conference, winning the MVC's All-Sports Trophy for the past four years.
The Shockers' success under Schaus is not only about championship trophies and post-season bids, though. WSU made marked strides in areas such as academic accountability, facility improvement and budget reconciliation.
The collective grade point averages of WSU student-athletes has remained above 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in each semester of Schaus' tenure, and the 92 percent graduation rate among student-athletes completing the NCAA eligibility is 25 percent better than the campus at-large rate.
Ohio's student-athletes have a similar record, which didn't escape notice. Schaus is pleased that Ohio ranks above the national average for graduation success rate and that our student-athletes, in general, have a GPA above 3.0.
"The vision of the university says not only do we want the teams competing at the highest level, we want GPAs to be the very best, graduation rates to be the very best -- we want the APRs (NCAA academic progress rates) to be the very best," Schaus said.
Schaus' fiscal wins were a significant factor in the committee's decision. Throughout the past nine years, WSU's administration has set all-time revenue records in annual giving, capital campaign fundraising, corporate sponsorships and ticket sales.
"We had six-figure operational deficits when I got to Witchita State. Facilities were down and teams weren't winning," Schaus said. "(Today) we have a $1.4 million surplus and teams are winning. We've developed $35 million worth of construction for new facilities. It was fun to see programs go from the back of the pack to conference championships and NCAA tournaments."
"It's so fun to build a program. Will I enjoy doing it again? Absolutely."
He is glad to have a head start on the process, especially the budget goals. He comes on at a time when Athletics is working with University Finance and Administration on a comprehensive five-year financial plan focusing on fiscal sustainability paired with academic quality. This year, athletics was able to keep its expenditures $200,000 below projected expenses.
Also, Ohio athletics has made strides toward achieving the $2.5 million goal of the new Ohio Athletics Operational Endowment Campaign, which represents more than 1,856 times the giving level that existed before the campaign. President Emeritus Vernon Alden seeded efforts with a $600,000 gift – the second largest cash gift in Ohio Athletics' history. Just recently, the division announced a $1 million sponsorship, to be spread over five years.
This pleases Schaus but it isn't an end game.
"I enjoy helping set a vision and making a difference," Schaus says. "I think the thing I like most is taking a successful program and moving it to the next level."
Prior to joining Wichita State, Schaus worked at Oregon, Cincinnati, Texas El-Paso (UTEP) and Northern Illinois, and with professional organizations such as the Washington Redskins, the New England Patriots and the LPGA.
Current Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt announced his resignation effective April 15 to accept the same position at the University of Miami (Fla.).
To speak with a media representative regarding this story, please contact Jason Corriher, director of media relations for Intercollegiate Athletics, at 740-593-1298 or firstname.lastname@example.org.