MUNCIE, Ind. – Bill Comar has been part of programs that have appeared in the NCAA Tournament 12 times during his career.
The Chicago-area native has been on some top college basketball teams in the Midwest during his 28 years working in the sport. He found his way to Ball State last season and that’s where he will stay as special assistant to head coach Michael Lewis.
Comar has worked with a handful of first-year head coaches, or coaches who are early in their head coaching tenure, and he will do the same alongside the former UCLA assistant.
“I’ve had a lot of experience with guys getting their first (head coaching) opportunity,” Comar said. “Some of the things that I look at, my strengths, kind of a complementary coaching aid, which is going to be locked into players, training, recruiting and some of the other things. The experience that I bring could probably be very useful for a first year head coach.”
So how did Comar end up at Ball State? And where does he see this program heading with the new staff?
When Indiana fired Archie Miller on March 15, 2021, Comar must have found out what happened next.
Comar worked in various programs — Miami, Dayton, Xavier and Indiana — after graduating from Kenyon College, where he played collegiate for three seasons, in 1993.
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From 2011 to 2021, he worked alongside Archie Miller at Dayton (2011-2017) and Indiana (2017-2021). He also spent seven years with Xavier, where Thad Matta and Sean Miller, Archie’s brother, were the head coaches.
Weeks after Archie, Sean was fired at Arizona, a program that had been under the NCAA violations umbrella since 2017. Matta was an AD associated with IU. Oliver Purnell and Charlie Coles, with whom Comar worked in Dayton and Miami, respectively, were no longer coaches, and Herb Sendek was in Santa Clara, where he remains.
The head coaches Comar worked for were either out of college basketball or unemployed. Comar has been looking for a job all summer. In August there was an opening at Ball State and Comar had a relationship with then head coach James Whitford. Both worked in Miami and were on the same staff at Xavier.
The season was fast approaching, the opportunities to find work were diminishing. Comar considered other opportunities but did not view them as long-term options. He also didn’t want to move his family across the country. Moving from Bloomington to Muncie? It was manageable.
Comar served as director of basketball operations for Ball State last season. The Cardinals finished sixth in the Mid-American Conference and lost in the first round of the league tournament. Days later, Whitford was fired after nine seasons.
This time, Comar felt better prepared. He had been through the same situation a year earlier and felt that some of the coaches he had worked with before were “on the verge” of getting jobs. Still, there was uncertainty. And Comar had to explain to her daughters, Camille and Emily, why they might move out again.
“There is a good degree of uncertainty,” Comar said. “I have two daughters, one six, one four, and you come home and kind of explain to them, ‘Hey, we could move out again.’ … It’s the side of the business that’s the hardest.”
But Comar had contacted Ball State administration to see if the new head coach would benefit from keeping him on staff. On Lewis’ first day on campus, days after being named head coach on March 25, Comar showed him around the facility. At Lewis’ introductory press conference on April 6, he made it official – Comar was here to stay at Muncie.
“I think Bill is completely overqualified for his job,” Lewis said at the time.
“Just look at where he’s worked, it’s amazing, you know, the different places he’s been, the people he’s worked with (with), the great minds in basketball,” Lewis said. “He’s going to help me run this program on a day-to-day basis. He’s going to have his hands in every facet of this program.”
Like Lewis and the rest of the coaching staff – associate head coach Lou Gudino as well as assistants Jamal Meeks and Ben Botts – Comar has enjoyed great success in his career.
MORE MEN’S BASKETBALL COACH STORIES
►Lou Gudino:From Wichita State to Ball State, why associate head coach Lou Gudino came to Muncie
►Jamal Meeks:How Jamal Meeks returned to college basketball, came to Ball State as an assistant
►Ben Bots:As a rookie, Ben Botts turned down Michael Lewis. As a coach, Botts couldn’t refuse
►Staff:Here’s a look at the Ball State men’s basketball coaching staff
Comar has been part of programs that have made 16 playoff appearances and qualified for a dozen NCAA tournaments.
During his first stint at Dayton, the Flyers earned their first national ranking since 1974 in the 2001-01 season. His second stint saw Dayton qualify for the Elite Eight (2014) and win back-to-back Atlantic 10 titles (2016, 2017).
At Xavier, where Comar served as operations director, the Musketeers appeared in six NCAA tournaments, won four conference regular-season titles, three conference tournament titles and twice qualified for the Elite Eight.
Comar has seen what it takes to succeed. He said he feels like the centerpieces of last year’s team will continue to improve and, like Lewis, believes the Cardinals are just a few possessions away from rivaling the best in the game. MAC.
“The way we conduct our business every day in the program reflects what (Lewis) wants this culture to be,” Comar said. “…Part of that piece is, you know, working with administration, working with academics, working with compliance, working with Beth (Goetz) and her management.”
When asked what it takes to be successful, Comar said it’s about building relationships with players, building a recruiting class and establishing a culture. Comar also said the teams he previously worked with were successful because they did the little things right every day. This is where Comar comes in.
“Like I said,” Lewis said, “he’s going to have his hands in everything we do here.”