Portland State University sports will be ushering in a new era with last week’s announcement that Torre Chisholm is stepping down as athletics director.

A statement released by PSU said that Chisholm will “pursue other career opportunities” and that his last day on the job will be Oct. 31.

Chisholm had been at the helm of Vikings athletics since May 2007, the past six years under PSU President Wim Wiewel, who called him “a great partner and a strong student advocate. He will be missed.”

Chisholm’s achievements include the overseeing of ongoing fundraising for the planned Viking Pavilion, a 5,000-seat multipurpose arena that would include room for classes and other student and community events. Under Chisholm, the Vikings also have improved their academic scores, notably in men’s basketball.

Much of the recent buzz about PSU athletics, however, has been mostly related to the hiring of David Hersh, former Portland Beavers baseball team general manager, as president of the Viking Athletic Partnership. Hersh has been attempting to drive changes to the tone of PSU marketing and promotions, raise the attendance for football, expand the overall fan base, and create more overall interest in Portland State.

Chisholm, in the school statement, said that by leaving now “I can facilitate a smooth transition for my successor, ensuring that the program continues to grow toward its full potential. I am confident that I leave PSU athletics a better program than when I arrived. There is great opportunity for the next AD.”

Thorns to play 20 league matches

The Portland Thorns, along with the eight other teams in the National Women’s Soccer League, will play 20 games in the 2015 league season, taking a two-week break during the group stages of the Women’s World Cup.

Each NWSL team played 24 league games in 2014.

The NWSL season will run from early April to September, with the championship game on Sept. 26 or 27.

Linfield big favorite

Linfield is favored to win its sixth consecutive Northwest Conference football title. The Wildcats received seven of the eight first-place votes and totaled 56 points in the NWC’s preseason coaches poll. Pacific Lutheran was picked second, drawing one first-place vote and 42 points. Then came Willamette (36 points), Pacific (34), Whitworth (25), Puget Sound (15), Lewis & Clark (14) and George Fox (10). Linfield opens Sept. 13 at Chapman.

Lewis & Clark’s first game is Saturday at Whitworth, the only league contest on opening weekend. Other games that day include College of Idaho at Pacific, 1 p.m., and Arizona Christian at George Fox, 1:30 p.m., in the first game for the new GFU program, which is back after a 46-year absence. College of Idaho also is re-establishing football this year.

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