Learn Dr. Joni Comstock’s name. AU’s new athletic director takes over today and with her at the helm, bounds are limitless and excitement is high.
“I consider this opportunity an incredible privilege,” Comstock said. “I am here because I truly believe that there is tremendous potential here and we can be successful on a national level.”
Part of Comstock’s mantra is her three-step plan, which she instituted in previous jobs. She wants to increase visibility, fundraising and total support for student-athletes.
AU gets new life from Comstock, after two fairly successful years under former AD Tom George. Comstock exudes confidence, excitement and a passion for her job. When she was introduced at Saturday’s basketball game, she received a tremendous ovation from fans.
One of the major criticisms of the George regime was the fan support, or lack there of. Comstock plans to change the attitude by reaching out to athletic alumni and making the events more fun for students and outside spectators alike.
“I plan to work with people within the department and outside to create a common vision for AU athletics,” Comstock said. “I want to provide stability and build on a sound foundation.”
One thing that would surely stimulate fan interest is the potential of a D.C. rivalry in more sports than just soccer. With Georgetown and George Washington a few miles away, the potential is there for a very intriguing rivalry, which Comstock says she will explore.
George inherited AU’s program just as it was entering the Patriot League two years ago. Comstock now joins a team that has cemented its place as a powerhouse in the league and now aims higher.
“We’ve established ourselves in the Patriot League,” Comstock said. “Now, we’re going to continue to develop each individual program and make AU a household name.”
Comstock is almost as passionate about the league as she is about her new school. Saying that the values of the PL are what intercollegiate athletics should be about, she emphasized her excitement to work toward the academic and athletic goals of the league, which she truly believes in.
One thing that would be a huge help to Comstock’s adjustment is if the Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams could win the PL this year and earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
“An NCAA bid is the epitome of college sports, and it would really help to rally the students,” Comstock said.
One of Comstock’s biggest strengths is her phenomenal experience. She comes from the University of North Carolina-Asheville. Before that, she was the assistant athletic director at Big Ten-powerhouse Purdue University.
While at Purdue, Comstock helped move the program forward and increased revenue.
All may not be perfect for Comstock, as she takes over a program with many questions. In light of recent scholarship cuts to the Swimming and Diving team and amid coaching rumors, she will be closely watched over the next few months.
“I’ve never been at an institution where we’ve cut sports,” Comstock said. “It’s nothing that I am considering.”
With high-profile coaches such as Men’s Basketball head coach Jeff Jones, Track and Field head coach Matt Centrowitz, and Volleyball head coach Barry Goldberg, among others, Comstock has a solid core of coaches who will help her to achieve her goals at AU.
Comstock hopes to increase revenue internally and externally by attending as many games and practices as possible, as well as working hard behind the scenes with alumni and corporate sponsors.
“I’ve got some strong experience, energy and a deep commitment to this university and this program,” Comstock said. “I’ll be as visible as possible and share in the tremendous pride of everyone at this school.”
“My hobby is this job and this school,” she added.
It’s been awhile since AU students had someone to be so excited about, but Comstock seems as if she is the answer. And Comstock’s reign begins today.