BUTTE — Bulldogs' Director of Athletics Bill Wilson announced his resignation Thursday in order to purse opportunities closer to his family.
"When I look back at the things we accomplished in such a short period of time, I can't help but be very proud of our student-athletes, coaches and staff," Wilson said in a school press release. "We have had to overcome obstacles internally, externally and unforeseen, but we did so with one goal in mind; the student-athlete experience. I am proud of that, and now I'm looking forward to the next step in my personal and professional life."
During his three-and-a-half years as athletic director, the department earned the NAIA Champions of Character award twice (2018-19, 2019-20) and student athletes earned an overall GPA of at least 3.18 or higher.
"First and foremost, and without question, our coaches and our staff. My job is to set a standard and then build a structure," Wilson said in a telephone interview with the Montana Standard. "But ultimately our coaches and staff are the ones that accomplish those things. We have such a great staff; probably the most difficult part about leave Western. We have such a great staff, and they're committed to student-athlete success and the student-athlete experience."
The women's basketball team won the 2019 NAIA Women's Basketball National Championship and qualified for the NAIA National Tournament four consecutive years. They were Frontier Conference champions in women's basketball (2019), and an individual champion in women's cross-country (2018). The men's basketball team made the 2018 NAIA National Tournament with a run to the quarterfinals. And the football team had two runner-up Frontier Conference seasons. In the past three-and-a-half years, the Bulldogs have had 12 NAIA All-Americans, 23 CNFR qualifiers, 40 Academic All-Americans, one NAIA National Player of the Year and one NAIA National Coach of the Year.
"Those are lasting memories that I'd like to be able to tell you I had something to do with," Wilson said with a chuckle. "But I was just fortunate to have a front-row seat. Again, it goes back to our staff, the commitment from our student-athletes and the support that our campus' community provides. The support is tremendous and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that. When you have success on the court or field, so to speak, as an administrator, you're mostly going along for the ride.
Wilson's on-campus accomplishments include developing and raising funds for the UMW Athletics Hall of Fame Room and overseeing remodels in the Straugh Gymnasium. He also established the Bulldog Club to help develop and raise money for a new football stadium and secured an apparel partnership with Under Armour.
"The University of Montana Western is sad to lose such a dynamic Athletic Director that Bill Wilson has been for our institution. However, we wish Bill the best as he moves to be closer to family and pursues his future endeavors," said Chancellor Michael Reid.
Montana Western intends to conduct a national search for the position. The search committee will be led by Reid and will be assembled in the coming days.
Wilson said that he will most likely be staying in the collegiate sports administration field when he returns to Northeast Ohio, where his family resides.
"I certainly love what I do," Wilson said. "I currently have a few opportunities to get back to the Northeast Ohio region, which is where I grew up and went to school, went to grad school and all those things.
"My dad is older now. He's 83. I'm really close with my sisters. I've spent the majority of my professional life away from home. And it's time to see if I can get back closer."
Matthew Kiewiet is the sports editor for the Montana Standard and sports betting columnist for 406MTSports. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @mattkiewiet406.