|Previous College:||United States Air Force Academy '83|
|Position:||Director of Athletics & Recreation|
At a press conference on Thursday, February 28, 2013 in Bender Arena, home of the Patriot League’s American University Eagles, AU President Neil Kerwin announced the appointment of Dr. William (Billy) Walker, deputy director of athletics at the United States Air Force Academy, as the university’s 14th director of athletics and recreation. Walker joined the AU staff on April 19, 2013.
“Billy Walker’s experiences, character and values are perfectly suited to build upon AU’s record of success in athletic competition and in the classroom. We were impressed by his demonstrated leadership as an administrator and his achievements as professor, department chair, and mentor of student-athletes,” said Kerwin. “We were especially struck by his belief that elite athletes can also be elite scholars—a value we embrace at this university.”
"I'm tremendously honored to be selected as American University's next director of athletics and recreation. President Kerwin's confidence in me is truly humbling, and I can't overstate how appreciative I am. Everywhere I've been on campus, I've met people who are part of an integrated team of professionals. I'm thrilled to be joining that team and I can't wait to get to work," said Walker.
Walker’s first year at the helm of American’s Athletic Department produced amazing results. Three Eagles teams captured Patriot League championships—Field Hockey, Volleyball, and Men’s basketball—with Field Hockey and Volleyball each winning NCAA Tournament competitions and reaching the round of sixteen. Volleyball swept both SEC foe Georgia and ACC power Duke to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in Lincoln, Nebraska where they fell to defending champion and No. 1 ranked Texas, 3-1.
Within his first few weeks on the job he faced the daunting task of hiring both a head men’s and head women’s basketball coach. The results were phenomenal. Coach Mike Brennan and Coach Megan Gebbia each won at 20-plus games and were both selected as finalists for national rookie coach of the year awards. Brennan earned Patriot League Coach of the Year after leading his Eagles squad to a Patriot League Championship and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament in Milwaukee against the University of Wisconsin.
The success spanned across the board as American University teams had an impressive .607 winning percentage for the year, and achieved an astounding .672 winning percentage within the Patriot League. This included 30 All-Patriot League selections, 18 Academic All-Patriot League selections, two All-America honors, the Patriot League Male Sportsmanship Award winner, and the Patriot League NCAA Female Woman of the Year nominee.
Academically, AU student-athletes finished the 2013-14 academic year with a 3.34 cumulative GPA after posting a 3.43 GPA the spring semester. Six teams earned a 3.5 GPA or better with eight teams earning national recognition by coaches’ associations for their academic accomplishments. Additionally, 81% of American’s student-athletes earned a 3.0 GPA or better, while 51% earned above a 3.5 GPA. 84.4% were named to the Patriot League Honor Rolls. Most impressive of all marks was four Eagles earning Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year for their respective sports.
Walker also challenged AU student-athletes to increase their presence in the D.C.-Metro community. They responded with numerous community service initiatives and a partnership with a District of Columbia public grade school. Walker also oversaw a 42% increase in giving, numerous facility upgrades, more robust TV, radio and live streaming scheduling, and a distinctive new website.
His second year was just as impressive as his first as two teams—volleyball and women’s basketball—won Patriot League Championships and men’s basketball added a runner-up finish. Women’s basketball had a record-breaking year as second-year Coach Megan Gebbia’s squad set a new school record for wins with a 24-9 record, and with its Patriot League Championship made its first trip to the NCAA Tournament in school history. The Eagles played host Iowa in Iowa City, losing a hard-fought game 75-67. For her efforts, Coach Gebbia was named Patriot League Coach of the Year.
2014-2015 another successful year competitively across the entire department as the Eagles posted an overall .547 winning percentage and an impressive .582 winning percentage within the Patriot League. Twenty-five Eagles earned All-Patriot League honors, while 17 were named Academic All-Patriot League and 14 school records were tied or broken (1 team, 12 individual, 1 relay). Additionally, two student-athletes earned All-America honors, while one earned third team Academic All-America, and another was named first-team Academic All-America.
American student-athletes continued to focus on academics, posting a cumulative 3.38 GPA across all sports. Every sport was over a 3.0 both semesters, while four programs posted GPAs of over 3.5. Over 84% of AU student-athletes earned over a 3.0 GPA. Once again, American student-athletes captured four Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year Awards for their respective sports.
Walker continued to make the AU Eagles brand more recognizable nationally by holding booster events across the country. He more than doubled our exposure on national TV, and spearheaded the construction of the Bender Arena Sky Box that now provides our ticket holders with a first-class, luxury box from which to watch an event.
Prior to AU at the Air Force Academy, Walker served as deputy director of athletics and professor and head of the Physical Education Department. He was responsible for day-to-day operations of the Academy's athletic department, including 190 employees, 23 NCAA Division I Olympic sports, and a multifaceted program involving physical education, cadet fitness testing and evaluation, and an intramural program for more than 4,000 cadets.
In his various appointments at the United States Air Force Academy, he also served as a physical education instructor, assistant wrestling coach, and director of the Fitness Testing and Evaluation Division. In 1993, he earned the Academy's highest instructional award. In 2001, Walker was appointed by President Bush as the first Permanent Professor of Athletics and Physical Education. In addition to his duties at the Academy, Walker was the Director of the Air Force Combatives Center of Excellence, responsible for developing and implementing hand-to-hand combat training to thousands of airmen deployed around the world.
In late July of 2013, Walker was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General during his retirement ceremony from the United States Air Force. The ceremony, which was held in Clune Arena on the campus of the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., was officiated by General William T. Shelton, Commander, Air Force Space Command. General Walker was awarded the Legion of Merit during the formal proceedings.
A recognized expert in intercollegiate athletic issues, Walker has served as chair of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee and was a member of the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Committee. He was asked to testify as an expert panelist for the U.S. Department of Education Secretary's Commission on Opportunity in Athletics and was a key participant in the merger between two lacrosse leagues. He also spearheaded the formation of the Western Wrestling Conference in 2005, and served as its commissioner from its inception until 2013.
Originally from Hartland Wisconsin, Walker graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science in History. As a varsity wrestler at Air Force, he was a three-year letterwinner under legendary coach Wayne Baughman, and served as team captain his senior year. He earned a Master of Arts from California State University and his doctorate in physical education and sports administration at the University of Northern Colorado.
A command pilot with nearly 3,000 hours of helicopter flight time, General Walker’s professional responsibilities have included deputy command of the 89th Operations Group, an organization of 800 people responsible for directing the safe transport of the President of the United States, Vice President, Cabinet Secretaries, members of Congress, foreign heads of state, and other dignitaries around the world. His roles at Andrews Air Force Base also included commander of the 1st Helicopter Squadron and experience as a military assistant to the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Walker is married to the former Caroline Cyr of Daleville, Ala., and they have one daughter, Kaela, who is a student at Northwestern University.