Julie Cromer gives a statement at her introductory press conference on August 16, 2019. PHOTO: Taylor Jedrzejek/WOUB

Ohio Athletics: Julie Cromer Introduced as Bobcats’ New Athletic Director

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ATHENS, OH — Standing at the podium, addressing the Ohio athletic department and media for the first time as athletic director, Julie Cromer couldn’t contain a smile. 

After all, her long road to the top of a Division 1 collegiate athletic department had led her to Athens as Ohio University’s first female athletic director.

Cromer, who comes to Ohio from the University of Arkansas, was introduced by university President Duane Nellis on Friday morning at the Sook Academic Center at Peden Stadium, concluding a national search for long-time athletic director Jim Schaus’ replacement.

“Julie has a remarkable professional track record and she impressed the search committee, and me, with her keen understanding of, and focus for, ways in which athletics can serve as the front porch of our university,” Nellis said. “I truly believe that Julie is the right leader to help build on the last decade of success at Ohio university.”

Throughout the interview process, Cromer was not only impressed by the recent successes of Ohio Athletics, she was “most impacted” by her meetings with student-athletes.

“They love this university. They’re proud to be Bobcats, they strive for excellence every day and they want to be actively engaged with our athletics leadership, with our campus and our community,” Cromer said. “So while there were many factors that drew me to Athens and Ohio University, let me say that meeting with you and talking with you last week was a particularly compelling component to that.” 

That wasn’t all, however. Cromer was also drawn to Athens by the strong academic reputation of the athletic department, stating that she is proud to join a program that had an 88% graduation rate among student-athletes. 

Of course, the town of Athens and the campus of Ohio University played a role as well.

“We’re so impressed with Athens and so excited to get here. It’s a kind, welcoming community with a lot of character. The campus is beautiful,” Cromer said. “We haven’t met a single person that hasn’t told us we were going to love it here.”

Coming to Ohio at this point in time gives Cromer an excellent chance to succeed, given the successes the Bobcats have had in recent years in games and in the classroom. 

“There’s a great foundation here. My job is to come in and continue to support the things that are working and find the ways we can make incremental and substantive change,” Cromer said. “But it’s also an opportunity to bring some new energy and fresh perspective to the department.” 

However, in the big picture, the appointment of Cromer to athletic director is not only a big step for her career, but also the Ohio athletic department as a whole. Cromer understands what it means to be the first female athletic director in Athens.

“I recognize the historical significance for us here at this university, but this university has a rich culture of inclusion…I’m not the first “first” on this campus,” Cromer said. “There are also a lot of talented women that have worked in college athletics for a very long time.

“The fact that I have the opportunity to stand here at the podium today is because of them. Many of them would have been fantastic athletic directors…I am not a unicorn,” Cromer added with a smile.

Cromer’s first day as athletic director will be August 31. Her first day will center around the Bobcats’ football home opener.

President Duane Nellis introduces new athletic director Julie Cromer at a press conference on August 16, 2019. PHOTO: Taylor Jedrzejek/WOUB