Courtesy: CMU Athletic Communications
Dave Heeke has instilled his vision of a "Championship Culture" at Central Michigan University.
Athletic success, academic excellence, national media exposure, record fund-raising and a commitment to facilities have defined Heeke's tenure as CMU's director of athletics.
The Chippewas earned the Mid-American Conference's inaugural Cartwright Award after the 2008-09 academic year as the league's top overall institution, capturing the annual honor given to the program that most exemplifies excellence in academics, athletics and citizenship.
The 2009-10 academic year brought conference championships in football, women's soccer, wrestling, gymnastics and baseball. The Chippewas added conference tournament titles in women's soccer, wrestling and baseball while the men's basketball program repeated as the MAC West Division champion.
The department captured the 2007 Reese Trophy for MAC men's all-sports competition, and they have finished in the top three in four of his five years. In 2010, CMU placed second in the Reese standings and third in the Jacoby Trophy (women's all-sports) standings, following one of the most successful years in recent history, and the women's standing improved to second in 2011.The Chippewa football program made four consecutive bowl appearances from 2006-09 and won three MAC West titles during that span. It returned to the postseason in 2012 for its fifth bowl game in seven years. CMU's wrestling program has finished in the top 15 at the NCAA Championships each of the last five years, including a seventh-place finish to cap a 2008 season that saw the Chippewas ranked as high as No. 2 nationally. In 2010 they became the first squad in MAC history to qualify all 10 wrestlers for nationals. Both the volleyball and women's basketball programs have experienced their most successful seasons in nearly two decades in recent years, advancing to postseason play each of the last two years, while the soccer team won back-to-back MAC regular-season and tournament titles, winning a first-round NCAA Tournament match in 2009. In 2012 the soccer program became the first in MAC history to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Chippewas have earned the MAC's Institutional Academic Achievement Award 10 times in the last 13 years, and CMU's women's varsity programs combined to win the conference's inaugural Faculty Athletics Representative Academic Achievement Award following the 2007-08 academic year. The Chippewa soccer program posted the highest grade-point average in the country for eight consecutive years, while softball and field hockey routinely rank among the nation's highest team grade point averages.
Among the first facility improvements Heeke oversaw was the installation of permanent lights at Kelly/Shorts Stadium to allow for flexible scheduling and television appearances for football. A new $2.5 million video scoreboard system, funded fully through private contributions, debuted during the 2007-08 seasons in both Kelly/Shorts and Rose Center. The Rose Center court was refinished with an updated floor design in 2006. Other additional facility improvements have included a $700,000 gymnastics practice facility, the naming and renovation of Margo Jonker Stadium for softball, stadium seating at the Field Hockey Complex, the resurfacing of the Jack Skoog Indoor Track and construction of a suite of track offices overlooking the Jack Skoog Indoor Track.
Fund-raising and External Notoriety
CMU Athletics has served as a front porch to the university through increased exposure during Heeke's tenure. Since the start of the 2006 season, Chippewa football has had more than half of its games televised, including many to national audiences on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. In 2009, the Chippewas played on television 10 times and finished the season ranked No. 23 in the Associated Press Poll. The Chippewas led the MAC in football attendance in both 2006 and 2008, and CMU set a school record with a crowd of 30,302 at its home game against Western Michigan in 2008. It was the first sellout in the expanded Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
Heeke led the formation of a partnership with XOS Technologies (now known as NeuLion) for the development of the cmuchippewas.com Web site, allowing Chippewa fans the ability to connect with the department through new features such as live video and audio. The site topped one million page views for the month of November 2009.
In 2009, Heeke announced an agreement between the athletics department and Adidas on an exclusive apparel and shoe contract. All of CMU's varsity athletics programs are now outfitted by Adidas, bringing consistency to color, design and logo usage on all uniforms and apparel. The contract marks the first time all of CMU's varsity athletics programs have been included in a single, all-encompassing apparel agreement, and it includes special apparel pricing for club sport programs, intramurals and other campus groups. The agreement also provides extensive retail opportunities for the university bookstore.
Special Projects and Recognitions
Also in 2008, CMU received a diversity award from the Laboratory for Diversity in Sport at Texas A&M University. The department was recognized in the Value and Attitudinal Diversity category.
Heeke is contributing to the national landscape as a member of the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee and the Division I Football Issues Committee, serving as chair of the football committee in 2012-13, his fifth and final year. He had previously served on the baseball committee from 2006-08.
During his first 18 months on the job, Heeke was faced with the task of hiring three head coaches for football and both men's and women's basketball. He tabbed Ernie Zeigler in men's basketball, Butch Jones in football and Sue Guevara in women's basketball.
The East Lansing, Mich., native spent 18 years at the University of Oregon, including serving as senior associate athletics director/chief of staff. There he assisted the athletics director with the daily operation of the Ducks' $40 million budget and 17 sports. His primary role was revenue generation through external operations. He also was the direct administrative supervisor for football, men's basketball, women's soccer and softball.
Some of the highlights from his career at Oregon include: developing a creative and profitable marketing and sales partnership with ESPN Regional Television; planning and executing a donor seating plan to fund renovation of the basketball arena; installation and game-day operation of a $3.7 million large-screen video display system and scoreboard in the football stadium; and reorganization of the annual giving program that more than doubled revenues from $3.6 million to $7.6 million initially and currently generates over $15 million annually.
Heeke began his professional career as assistant athletic events coordinator at Michigan State for one year in 1987 before heading to Oregon.
Heeke received a bachelor's degree from Albion College in 1985 and a master's degree from Ohio State University in 1987. At Albion, he was a co-captain of the baseball team and a member of the club hockey team. He was a three-sport athlete at East Lansing High School.
Heeke received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the East Lansing Educational Foundation in 2007.
He and his wife, Liz, have three boys, Ryan, Max and Zach.