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Posted on Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Eastern Michigan hires former Buckeye and Wolverine Heather Lyke as athletic director and vice president

By Pete Cunningham

Eastern Michigan University will turn over the reins of the athletic department to a longtime Buckeye with Wolverine roots.

Heather Lyke has been hired as Eastern Michigan University’s new athletic director and vice president, the university announced on Monday. Lyke has spent the past nine years as a senior associate athletic director at Ohio State University. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1992 and was a four-year letter-winner on the softball team under Carol Hutchins.


Heather Lyke

“I’ve had the opportunity to talk with leaders in collegiate athletics from around the country during the search, including (Ohio State athletic director) Gene Smith,” Eastern Michigan University president Susan Martin said in a news release. “I also talked and met with many highly qualified AD candidates - including sitting ADs and associate ADs. Heather Lyke is the right person at the right time with the outstanding skills, talent, enthusiasm and experience to lead Eastern Michigan University Athletics to great success.”

Lyke’s contract is for five years at an annual salary of $245,000 plus incentives based on championship and bowl appearances, academics, attendance, and more. Lyke replaces Derrick Gragg who spent seven years at the helm of Eastern Michigan’s athletic department before accepting the same position at Tulsa University in March. Gragg made $200,000 in his final year at EMU. Gragg’s last day was April 17. Melody Reifel Werner has been the interim athletic director since Gragg’s departure.

“I am honored and excited to be named the Director of Athletics at Eastern Michigan University,” Lyke said in a release. “This is a tremendous opportunity to become a part of a dynamic leadership team. I am eager to serve and build great relationships with president Martin and the university leadership, the faculty, our student-athletes, coaches and staff, alumni and donors, and the greater Ypsilanti and Michigan community. Eastern Michigan has a rich history of athletic success and academic achievement. I look forward to being part of the continued success of Eastern Michigan University as we help shape the next generation of leaders and achieve even greater accomplishments.”

Lyke has spent the past 17 years working in intercollegiate athletics, the past 15 of which have been at Ohio State and nine at her current position under the direct tutelage of Smith.

In her current role at OSU, Lyke is a member of the athletic department’s executive team and is responsible for the assessment, design and development of the department’s strategic plan. She directly oversees 10 of OSU’s 36 athletic programs and manages and supervises 31 full-time coaches and staff. She also has oversight over all facets of the athletic councils involving budget oversight, revenue generation and facilities as well as the golf course operations.

Ohio State had a total revenue of $142,043,057 versus expenses of $124,419,412, second highest in the nation according to USA Today and was one of few Division I programs operating in the black and receiving no subsidies. Eastern Michigan is at the opposite end of the spectrum with $29,062,905 in revenue versus $27,798,118 in expense, but with $24,298,925 in subsidies, according to USA Today.

Lyke supervised the sport performance division of the department, which includes the strength and conditioning coaches, athletic training staff and sports medicine staff. On a national level, Lyke has been active within the NCAA and Big Ten committee structure as a member of the NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Committee and Big Ten Sports Management Committee and previously served on the NCAA Softball Rules Committee and the NCAA Amateurism Committee.

Lyke's previous roles at OSU include associate athletic director for sport administration (2002-2012) and associate athletic director for sport administration, compliance and camp operations (1998-2002). Prior to Ohio State, Lyke was at the University of Cincinnati for two years, serving as the assistant athletic director for compliance as well as the senior woman administrator. Lyke began her athletics administrative career at the NCAA national office as an intern in the enforcement and student-athlete reinstatement department. Lyke also has worked for the Big Ten Network as a color analyst for softball games.

"Eastern Michigan University Athletics is defined by success on the field, in the classroom, and the overall well-being of our student athletes" said Francine Parker, chair of Eastern’s Board of Regents. "Heather Lyke's background and experience in athletics administration, as a compliance officer and as a student-athlete, ensures Eastern's focus on the entire student-athlete experience will remain a top priority."

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.



Tue, Jul 2, 2013 : 3:24 a.m.

"When I think of EMU, I think Everyone Must Unite" - Heather Lyke. Pass the barfing bag, please.


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 11 p.m.

Welcome to EMU, Heather. I look forward to meeting you.


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 7:35 p.m.

Welcome - I wish you the best. A challenging job to say the least.


Tue, Jul 2, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

The entire Mid-American Conference is subsidized in some shape or another from general funds, student fees, etc. Hell, MOST of NCAA college athletics is in the red. While WMU and CMU are subsidized less from general funds and student fees, they also only offer 15 and 17 MAC sports, respectively. EMU has 20.


Tue, Jul 2, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

Challenging in that when you make no money from the two revenue sports it puts you at a bit of a disadvantage. Compared to CMU and WMU, Eastern just can't bring in the cash for these two sports. Then, when the team down the road gets the majority of the fans, support, and headlines, it makes for a challenging job. As far as the other sports and level of competitive product put on the field, EMU is fine; I agree with you. I for one wish that the football 'albatross' went away and Eastern opted for a league like the Horizon or Summit where football does not exist and therefore does not drain the budget. Still personally waiting since 1980 for two consecutive winning seasons. He'll, one would be good!


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 10:54 p.m.

Why is it challenging? EMU' s athletic department is pretty good outside of MBB and football. They rank third all time in terms of MAC titles won.


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

Just out of curiosity, what percent of female AD's are out there in this Division? how does that compare to Division 1?

Pete Cunningham

Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 10:57 p.m.

Lyke is the first female AD in EMU's history and is there are just six female AD's out of 228 NCAA Division I athletic departments.


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 8:08 p.m.

last time I checked EMU is Division 1.


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

20% cost increase for the position? No wonder tuition is up each year! No brick and motor business operates this way, but public institutions....amazing. I am certain she is qualified and all, but doesn't anyone care about the students?


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 7:46 p.m.

Agree with you, but Eastern just offloaded a bunch of senior administrators... presumably to make room on the salary rolls for increased compensation for folks like this.


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 5:06 p.m.

Welcome to EMU, Heather. We look forward to you building on the successes of Derrick Gragg.


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

And without the NCAA violations and other unethical practices by Gragg's hires.


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

Welcome Heather! As an Alumnus (93), I wish you all the best!:)