Ohio University hires first female athletics director

ATHENS, Ohio (WTAP) - Ohio University will soon have a woman leading its athletics department for the first time in school history.

President M. Duane Nellis announced the appointment of Julie Cromer to the position on Thursday. She will be introduced at a news conference at 10 a.m. on Friday in the Perry and Sandy Sook Academic Center, located on the north side of Peden Stadium on the school's campus.

Cromer, who most recently served as the senior deputy athletics director at the University of Arkansas, will take over on Aug. 31. She also served as an associate vice chancellor and senior woman administrator for Razorback Athletics.

Cromer currently serves on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors and is a member of the Board of Directors of Women Leaders in College Sports.

“We’re excited to welcome Julie to my leadership team at Ohio University,” Nellis said. “Her talent, vision, and passion for intercollegiate athletics and the student-athlete experience will only serve to elevate our athletic program and our University.

"With a keen understanding and focus for ways in which athletics can serve as a front porch for our University, Julie is especially poised to enhance our athletics program, bolster our student-athlete experience, and increase academic engagement, and I am confident that Julie is the right person to lead our Bobcat athletics family as we move forward.”

Cromer was identified through a national search launched in June after former Director of Athletics Jim Schaus left to serve as the commissioner for the Southern Conference.

“I am humbled and honored to join a University that has been consistently competitive in the Mid-American Conference and that has a stellar reputation for integrity, inclusive excellence and ensuring student academic success,” Cromer said. “I look forward to joining the outstanding Ohio athletics student-athletes, coaches and staff as we engage with our campus to support our student-athletes in their academic pursuits while winning conference championships.”

Nellis said Cromer stood out from among four finalists who visited campus in early August. He cited her experience across the athletics landscape, including day-to-day administration of 19 varsity sports, leading strategic planning efforts, assisting with capital fundraising and serving as a liaison to campus governance groups and to the Southeastern Conference.

Cromer spent 10 years in the NCAA national office, including as the director of academic and membership affairs, working to advance NCAA academic reform and other policy initiatives.

She left the NCAA to join Indiana University as the executive associate athletics director, where she was one of the first women in the Big Ten to supervise all elements of a collegiate football program.