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New UW athletic director Pat Chun responds to backlash from WSU president Schulz: ‘We’re all human’

DerekJohnsonDerekJohnson Administrator, Swaye's Wigwam Posts: 59,925
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By Percy AllenSeattle Times staff reporter

Anybody but Washington.

That’s the popular sentiment among Washington State fans regarding Pat Chun, the former Cougars athletic director who left for the same position with cross-state rival Washington.

In front of a crowded room at the Don James Center overlooking Husky Stadium, Chun and UW president Ana Mari Cauce spent a significant portion of Thursday’s introductory news conference addressing inflammatory comments from WSU president Kirk Schulz.

During an interview with Cougfan.com that posted Wednesday, Schulz expressed shock and disappointment when Chun told him the news.

“I was just, you’re kidding me,” Schulz said. “If Pat had said it was the University of Iowa, it was Ohio State or Minnesota or pick whatever I would have said, ‘Hey, we want you here but I understand.’

“Given all the stuff that’s happened with the University of Washington over the last year I was like, there’s no way a person is going to move as a senior athletics administrator from WSU to the University of Washington. … Still a little shocked by it to be honest. … I’m upset about the timing of Pat leaving.”

Schulz — and at one time Chun — believed Cauce delivered the final punch that ultimately doomed the Pac-12 when she declined a media-rights deal from Apple that might have kept 10 of the conference schools together last August.

Instead, Washington quickly pivoted and partnered with Oregon to move to the Big Ten, which set off a chain reaction of defections that left WSU and Oregon State alone in the Pac-12 and suing the bolting members for control of the conference’s finances.

Schulz said he’s “pissed off and pretty upset” at Chun because he thought he had a partner to help WSU navigate through uncertain times.

“His timing was crappy,” Schulz said. “There’s never a great time, but there are times that are worse than others. … I felt we were side by side, hand in hand going through some really challenging times. … You feel you’ve got that person there. We’ve got a good solid year worth of tough work ahead of us and now you don’t. It’s profound, the disappointment.”

All of this is news to Chun who said: “I’ve gotten us off social media. So purposely, I’m oblivious to a lot of the things.”

Still, sitting in front of a purple-clad audience of family members, UW faculty, coaches, donors, the marching band and cheerleaders, Chun addressed his mostly successful six-year stint at WSU and any feelings of betrayal among the Cougars over his leaving at least four times during a 22-minute news conference.

“It was an extraordinary experience for six years,” Chun said about his WSU tenure. “President Schulz has been fantastic. He’s a friend. He’s a mentor. You could not ask during that period for a better boss, partner or friend.

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    DerekJohnsonDerekJohnson Administrator, Swaye's Wigwam Posts: 59,925
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    “To all the Cougs, it’s just gratefulness and it’s gratitude.”

    When asked a second time about Schulz, Chun said: “I did not see those comments. But we’re all human. I’ll also take what our final conversations were. Kirk is a class act. He’s been nothing but great to me and my family. I know the conversations we had personally. He knows how I feel about him. I know how he feels about me.”

    Admittedly, Cauce was unaware that Schulz said WSU’s relationship with UW is damaged.

    “I’m a glass-half-full type of person,” Schulz said. “I tend to be really positive, and I’ve worked to keep a working relationship going with the University of Washington. You can’t reside in the same state, deal with the legislature and all those things and not have a working relationship.

    “I will say, Ana Mari tried to call yesterday before the announcement came out, but I was on an airplane. … She did want to reach out personally … but clearly the relationship is not the same as it was in July of last year where I thought we had a tight working relationship. It’s cordial, but it’s definitely damaged. To be honest, [the relationship] probably won’t, as long as I am president and she is president, ever be quite the same.”

    When Schulz’s comments were relayed to Cauce, she said: “We have been good colleagues for many years. A really strong WSU is good for the UW, there is no question. It is important to have two really strong R1s [top-tier research institutions] in this state. And we have gone out of our way when the director of NSF [National Science Foundation] was here to make sure to invite Kirk.

    “I will continue to do everything I can to continue to make WSU strong academically as well. I have lots of good relationships there. I can understand. I assume that he made the comments this morning. We will do some repair work and we will continue to work together for the best of the entire state.”

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    DerekJohnsonDerekJohnson Administrator, Swaye's Wigwam Posts: 59,925
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    In football, the Huskies and Cougars will continue their Apple Cup rivalry for at least another five years, including next season’s game at Lumen Field followed by the series alternating between campus sites until the 2028 season.

    “I have a genuine appreciation for Pat,” WSU coach Jake Dickert told reporters Thursday in Pullman. “I wouldn’t be standing in front of you guys with a life-changing opportunity if he didn’t believe in me. Those are the facts. I believe in facts, not emotions.

    “But at the end of the day, we want people here that want to be here and that’s from the janitor to all the way up to the top of the administration.”

    While the Cougars scramble to fill their AD and men’s basketball coach vacancies, Chun is settling into a new home that he never envisioned until recently.

    “It was the furthest thing from my mind eight days ago,” he said.

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    BleachedAnusDawgBleachedAnusDawg Member, Swaye's Wigwam Posts: 10,474
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    If Schulz had a better option he would also be on the first wagon out of Pullman.

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    CFetters_Nacho_LoverCFetters_Nacho_Lover Moderator, Swaye's Wigwam Posts: 28,839
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