MUNCIE, Ind. — Bill Comar has been a part of programs who’ve made the NCAA Tournament 12 times throughout his career.
The Chicago-area native has been a part of some premier Midwest college basketball staffs during his 28 years working in the sport. He found his way to Ball State last season and it’s where he will stay as the special assistant to the head coach, Michael Lewis.
Comar’s worked with a handful of first-year head coaches, or coaches who are early in their head coaching tenure, and he’ll 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 I look at, my strengths, kind of help complement coach, who’s going to be locked in on the players, coaching, recruiting and some of the other stuff. The experience I bring could probably be real helpful to a first -year head coach.”
So, how did Comar end up at Ball State? And where does he see this program headed with the new staff?
When Indiana fired Archie Miller on March 15, 2021, Comar had to find out what was next.
Comar worked at various programs — Miami, Dayton, Xavier and Indiana — after he graduated from Kenyon College, where he played collegiately for three seasons, in 1993.
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From 2011-2021, he worked alongside Archie Miller at Dayton (2011-2017) and Indiana (2017-2021). He also spent seven years at Xavier, where Thad Matta and Sean Miller, Archie’s brother, were the head coaches.
A few weeks after Archie, Sean was fired at Arizona, a program which had been under an umbrella of NCAA violations since 2017. Matta was an associate AD at IU. Oliver Purnell and Charlie Coles, who Comar worked with at Dayton and Miami, respectively, were out of coaching and Herb Sendek was at Santa Clara, where he remains.
The head coaches Comar worked for were either out of college basketball or out of jobs. Comar was 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 at Miami and were on the same staff at Xavier.
The season was rapidly approaching opportunities to find work was shrinking. Comar looked at some other opportunities but didn’t see them as long-term options. He also didn’t want to move his family across the country. Moving from Bloomington to Muncie? That was manageable.
Comar served as the 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 around, Comar felt better prepared. He had gone through the same situation a year earlier and felt some of the coaches he’d previously worked with were “on the cusp” of getting jobs. Still, there was uncertainty. And Comar had to explain to his daughters, Camille and Emily, why they might be moving again.
“There’s a good degree of uncertainty,” Comar said. “I have two daughters, one’s six, one’s four, and you go home and kind of explain to them that, ‘Hey, we might be moving again.’ … It’s the side of the business that’s the tough part.”
But Comar had communicated with the Ball State administration to see if the new head coach would have an interest in keeping him on staff. On Lewis’ first day on campus, days after he was named the head coach on March 25, Comar showed him around the facility. During Lewis’ introductory press conference on April 6, he made it official — Comar was here to stay in Muncie.
“I feel that Bill is completely overqualified for his position,” Lewis said then.
“You just look at where he’s worked, it’s unbelievable, you know, the different places that he’s been around, the people that he’s worked (with), the great basketball minds,” Lewis said. “He is going to help me run the day-to-day of this program. 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 along with assistants Jamal Meeks and Ben Botts — Comar has seen plenty of success in his career.
MORE MEN’S BASKETBALL COACHING 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 Botts:As a recruit, Ben Botts turned down Michael Lewis. As a coach, Botts couldn’t refuse
►The staff:Here’s look at the Ball State men’s basketball coaching staff
Comar has been a part of programs that have made 16 postseason appearances and qualified for a dozen NCAA Tournaments.
During his first stint at Dayton, the Flyers earned their first national ranking since 1974 during the 2001-01 season. His second stint saw Dayton advance to the Elite Eight (2014) and win back-to-back Atlantic 10 titles (2016, 2017).
At Xavier, where Comar served as the director of operations, the Musketeers made six NCAA Tournaments, won four conference regular season titles, three conference tournament titles and made it to the Elite Eight twice.
Comar has seen what it takes to be successful. He said he feels like the core pieces from last year’s team will continue to improve and, like Lewis, feels the Cardinals are just a few possessions away from competing against the best in the MAC.
“The way we go about our business every day in the program reflects what (Lewis) wants that culture to be,” Comar said. “… Part of that piece is, you know, dealing with working with the administration, working with academics, working with compliance, working with Beth (Goetz) and her leadership.”
When asked what it takes to be successful, Comar said it comes down to establishing relationships with players, getting a recruiting class in place and establishing a culture. Comar also said the teams he previously worked with were successful because they did the small things right every single day. That’s where Comar comes in.
“Like I said,” Lewis said, “he’s going to have his hands in everything that we do here.”
Robby General covers Ball State and East Central Indiana high school sports for The Star Press. Contact him via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @generaljr†