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.”
At the Academy, Walker most recently 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.
"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.
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 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. 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.