Heeke has accepted the position of vice president for athletics at the University of Arizona. His final day at CMU will be April 1.
“Dave has moved CMU’s athletic program significantly forward in his 11 years here,” CMU President George E. Ross said. “He spoke during his interviews of creating a championship culture, and he’s achieved that. Our student-athletes, coaches and staff understand the leadership, integrity and excellence they represent on the field and court, as well as in academics and serving others.
“I’m proud of Dave and the legacy he’s built here. I wish him and Liz all the best.”
Ross said he will work with a national search firm to expedite the recruitment of Heeke’s replacement. He expects to select the firm within two weeks.
“We will seek candidates committed to furthering our championship culture, who agree that athletes are students first, and who have an unwavering commitment to upholding CMU’s reputation as one of just 13 universities without a major NCAA violation,” Ross said. “We seek a leader who represents all that CMU is, who is an excellent fundraiser and who will be an integral member of the CMU community.”
Ross said he expects to name an interim athletic director before or soon after April 1.
Heeke has served as Central Michigan’s director of athletics since January 2006 after spending 18 years at the University of Oregon. He returns to the Pac-12 Conference and a Power Five university with a 19-sport program.
“This is a bittersweet day for our family,” Heeke said. “The past 11 years have been a fabulous experience. Mount Pleasant and Central Michigan University will always hold a special place in our family’s hearts. I will miss the CMU students, faculty, staff and alumni and feel fortunate to have celebrated so many special moments with such wonderful people.
“Chippewa Athletics is in position for more success. Our fantastic student-athletes, coaches and staff are the real reason for our success, and I want to thank everyone who had a part in building our championship culture.”
Under Heeke’s leadership, CMU Athletics captured 21 Mid-American Conference championships in eight sports.
Central Michigan was awarded the inaugural Mid-American Conference Cartwright award in 2008-09 and received it again in 2014-15 for its excellence in athletics, academics and citizenship. The award is given to the school with the best overall program in the conference.
The CMU student-athlete GPA has been higher than 3.0 every year under Heeke’s leadership, and the soccer and field hockey programs have both had the nation’s top GPA during his tenure.
Facility improvements include the recently completed Performance Development Center at Theunissen Stadium, which was funded entirely through donations, the construction of the John G. Kulhavi Events Center, renovation of McGuirk Arena and the building of a new lacrosse and soccer stadium.
The department’s annual fundraising has increased 120 percent under Heeke’s leadership.