(Editor's note: Montana Western media release)
DILLON -- Bill Wilson, the University of Montana Western director of athletics, announced on Thursday that he will not be returning to UMW. He plans to pursue professional opportunities that allow him to be 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. "We have such a great athletics staff that cares as much about student success as I do. There are so many people at the university that have supported athletics, but I would like to thank Chancellor Michael Reid and Dean of Students Nicole Hazelbaker for their support and friendship over the last three and a half years.
"The university is in very capable hands. 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."
Western athletics has experienced tremendous success during Wilson's three-and-a-half-year tenure as athletic director. Montana Western student-athletes achieved an overall department GPA of at least a 3.18 or higher in the last three years. The UMW athletic department was awarded the NAIA Champions of Character award for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.
On the court and field, the Bulldogs achieved great heights capped off by a women's basketball NAIA National Championship in 2019. Women's cross country crowned an individual Frontier Conference champion in 2018, women's basketball qualified for the NAIA National Tournament four years in a row and won a Frontier Conference championship in 2019.
Men's basketball made the NAIA Elite Eight in 2018. Football had two second place finishes in the Frontier Conference in the last two full seasons. In the past three and half years, the UMW athletic department has had 12 NAIA All-Americans, 23 College National Finals Rodeo qualifiers, 40 Academic All-Americans, one NAIA National Player of the Year and one NAIA National Coach of the year.
Wilson was instrumental in helping to raise funds for scholarships, operations and facilities. He developed and raised the funds for the UMW Athletics Hall of Fame Room. He oversaw several remodeling projects in the Straugh Gymnasium, including the new digital score tables, bench chairs, sound system, and the volleyball and men's basketball locker rooms.
A principle member of the committee to develop and raise money for a new football stadium, Wilson also established the Bulldog Club with an initial membership of over 175 members. In addition, he procured an all-school agreement with the Under Armour Apparel Company in his first year, and implemented an Athletic Department Policies and Procedures Manual and Student-Athlete Handbook. Most recently, he established and chaired the Athletics COVID-19 Safe-Start Task Force.
"The University of Montana Western is sad to lose such a dynamic Athletic Director that Bill Wilson has been for our institution," said Chancellor Michael Reed. "However, we wish Bill the best as he moves to be closer to family and pursues his future endeavors. Thank you, Bill, for your dedication to Montana Western and our student-athletes over the past three and a half years."
Montana Western will conduct a national search to find its next athletic director.