After 22 years as West Chester University, Athletic Director Dr. Edward Matejkovic has announced that he plans to retire at the end of the 2017 spring semester.
Matejkovic has turned the West Chester Golden Rams’ program into one of the most successful in the country at the NCAA Division II level. West Chester is also the largest DII program in the country with 24 teams.
Matejkovic proudly joked, “Largest in the country, middle of the pack in budget. We know how to get the most bang for our buck.”
West Chester’s athletic program has won five national championships, 23 NCAA regional championships, and 60 PSAC titles under Matejkovic since he accepted the job as athletic director in 1995. The Golden Rams were also handed the Eugene F. Dixon Trophy, an award handed to the best overall athletic program in the PSAC, three of the past four years.
Winning is great and all, but not the only thing Matejkovic is proud of since stepping in as athletic director. West Chester’s student athletes excel in the classroom, continually posting a higher cumulative grade point average higher than that of the full-time student body.
Matejkovic proudly confirmed, “In my 43 semesters, only three have the average GPA of full-time students been higher than that of my student athletes.”
Since 2010, no less than 350 of the roughly 575 student-athletes at West Chester University made the Academic Honor Roll. This past fall, the number was over 400. West Chester has had the most student athletes receive honor roll amongst PSAC schools the past six years.
“I have had the distinct honor of working with a great administrative staff, which is very dedicated, and an outstanding coaching staff, which always amazes me with the success that they have achieved with less than optimal resources,” Matejkovic stated.
He expressed that personnel, both coaches and players, are the reason he’s been able to bring West Chester’s athletic program to where they are today.
Matejkovic came in and spoke to students. “If I have one skill, it’s reading people, and I’ve made some very good hires if I may pat myself on the back.”
Out of all the current coaches at West Chester, there are only two that Matejkovic hasn’t hired.
He repeated many times, “I hire, I trust and get out of the way to allow them to do their job.”
This allows coaches to concentrate on the ultimate goal: “graduating students and winning games.” Matejkovic told the class he has two things he asks out of his coaches. The first is that they recruit talent and intelligence, not one without the other. He wants coaches to bring in athletes that can compete with full-time students in the classroom and sit behind veteran teammates to learn.
“You win with juniors and seniors, not freshmen and sophomores. I tell freshman parents if I know their kid’s name, they’re probably in trouble.”
The next thing Matejkovic asks of coaches is that they can promise him tears at the end of the season.
“If there’s anything that’s important, at the end of the road there is going to be emotion.”
He explained that he was present for all five national championship wins, and that the winners often cry more than the losers.
“Winning is fun, but it’s also very emotional because you put so much into it.”
Matejkovic earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from West Chester University and his doctoral degree from Temple University. He now leaves as one of the most decorated athletic directors in all of PSAC history.
“This has truly been one of the most difficult decisions of my life,” Matejkovic said. “I have spent a large part of my life here, both as a student and an employee, and I love this place. It has come to define who I am. It is, in my view, the best job in America.”
The average lifetime of an athletic director’s career in one place is a little over seven years.
“I have mixed feelings about the announcement of Ed Matejkovic’s retirement,” said West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino. “I am very happy for him, but we will miss his strong leadership of West Chester University athletics. West Chester’s long tradition of athletic excellence has grown during his tenure.”
West Chester University has not named a replacement for Matejkovic. The university will take time to determine the course of action in search of a new athletic director.
Matejkovic stated when announcing retirement, “It is very difficult to leave a program that has been so successful. I am just a small part of a group of great people, who work hard and care, and I know that they will continue to attain the same level of success in the future.”
Dakota Schlater is a fourth-year student majoring in communications. He can be reached at DS805452@wcupa.edu.