PULLMAN, Wash. — James M. Sterk, who has served as WSU athletic director since July 2000, has signed a new five-year contract with the university.
“Jim has done an outstanding job, and I am very pleased he will continue his work here at WSU. Cougar athletics are a source of tremendous pride for our university, and under Jim’s leadership, the athletic department has helped our student-athletes achieve great things on the playing field and in the classroom,” said WSU President V. Lane Rawlins.
The Cougars are coming off another successful football campaign, becoming the first Pac-10 team since the 1930s to win 10 games in three consecutive seasons. WSU finished the year with a victory over the University of Texas in the Holiday Bowl and was ranked ninth in the final polls by both the coaches and the sportswriters. WSU has finished in the top ten each of the past three seasons. Football season ticket sales have increased by nearly 3,000 since the 2000 season.
In 2002, the athletic department opened a new resource facility to serve the personal and career development needs of student-athletes. In the past two semesters, about 50 percent of student-athletes have earned over a 3.00 semester grade point average, the highest percentage ever. In the past four years, WSU student-athletes have graduated above the university rate.
Sterk’s tenure at WSU also has seen significant increases in money available for scholarships. Annual contributions to athletics are at record levels; fund raising since Sterk’s arrival has increased $1.65 million to more than $4.8 million, and the number of donors has more than doubled. Sterk and his staff have maintained a balanced budget for each of the last three fiscal years while increasing the operating budget by 20 percent since his arrival in 2000. Several important facility projects have moved forward, including the building of an indoor football practice facility, installation of FieldTurf for baseball, new seating at Friel Court and the addition of corporate boxes in Martin Stadium.
“Through my work as faculty athletic representative with Jim Sterk, I have seen first-hand his integrity, his commitment to the student-athlete experience, and his understanding of where collegiate athletics fits into the academic life and purpose of the university,” said Kenneth Casavant, professor of agricultural and resource economics and faculty athletic representative.
“The academic progress by our student-athletes, as reflected in performance and graduation rates, and the increasing quality of the student-athletes who have been recruited into the university reflect Jim’s leadership direction to his staff and coaches,” Casavant said.
“This is not something I have asked for, but I deeply appreciate it. I love working with President Rawlins and his staff and the many others I work with. That includes our athletics staff, the budget council, the regents, the Athletic Council, the student leaders and the student-athletes at Washington State University. They have all been very supportive,” Sterk said. “Our athletic staff and coaches at WSU are second-to-none, and I feel privileged and blessed to be the athletics director at Washington State University.”
Sterk was in the fourth year of a five-year contract he signed when he came to WSU from Portland State University, where he served as athletic director for five years.
Under terms of the new contract, Sterk will be paid a base salary of $173,825, plus a supplemental compensation package of $25,000 in the first year of the contract, representing an increase of about 5 percent. The compensation will increase $5,000 in each subsequent year. Sterk also could qualify for incentive pay based on student-athlete graduation rates, participation in post-season play by the football team and the men’s and women’s basketball teams and achievement of other performance, budget and fund-raising goals. Total incentive compensation cannot exceed $25,000 in a calendar year.
Sterk said that his goal over the next five years is to see WSU sports teams compete at a high level consistently.
“Over half of our 17 sports — nine — have ended the season in the top 30 nationally or competed in an NCAA tournament at least once in the last four years. We also have had our best Athletic Directors’ Cup finishes in recent years. Our goal now is to reach that level on a more regular basis. I think we have the personnel on staff now and the facilities needed to achieve those goals more consistently,” Sterk said.
“All of our sports are challenged to compete at a national level in the Pacific-10 Conference, and when we compete at that level, we give our student-athletes an experience that includes a family-type atmosphere, a caring community in Pullman and at WSU and the very best in competition. All of that equates to a nationally recognized athletics program. This is a place where people want to work and participate. We don’t have to take a back seat to anyone.”
Sterk grew up on a dairy farm near Everson in Whatcom County and is a 1979 graduate of Western Washington University, where he lettered in both football and basketball.
A picture of Sterk is available at http://www.wsu.edu/images/sterk.jpg