By Timothy Pontzer | @timothy_pontzer
After nearly half a year without one, the Oakland University Athletic Department found a new leader.
On Monday, Jeff Konya was officially announced as the new Director of Athletics at OU. Konya will officially begin the post on August 11.
“Jeffrey Konya is a veteran leader with close to 20 years of athletics department experience and a record of progressively increased leadership responsibilities,” said Oakland University interim President Betty Youngblood. “He has been a member of several Division I athletics senior leadership teams that have seen success both internally and externally over the past several years.”
Konya currently serves as the Athletics Director at California State University Bakersfield, a position he has held since 2010. Before CSUB, he served in the athletics departments at South Dakota, Bucknell, Texas-San Antonio, Memphis, Southern Methodist, and Northeastern State.
Konya succeeds interim athletic director Robby Stewart. Stewart had held the role since early February, following the resignation of Tracy Huth. Huth was the Director of Athletics from 2007 until early this year.
“We want to win, that’s why we play the games,” Konya said. “We want our program to garner national acclaim.”
While victories and prestige will be an obvious focus for Konya, he also remarked on wanting to build relationships with players while helping them succeed outside the court or field. During his tenure at CSUB, nearly 50% of their student-athletes maintained a 3.0 GPA. During his career, Konya also taught several courses at the university level including Sports Law, Sports Ethics and Life Skills.
“It is my responsibility as a leader and educator to create an environment for our student-athletes to be successful academically, athletically and socially,” Konya said. “I firmly believe student-athlete development must be a priority and that our efforts are integrated with campus initiatives and opportunities.”
Konya called his selection a dream job and perfect fit, saying that he was returning to his roots. He was born in Royal Oak and grew up in West Bloomfield. Konya’s father (who was in attendance at Monday’s press conference) also previously taught night classes at OU.
One of Konya’s biggest accomplishments on his extensive résumé is his guiding of CSUB into the Western Athletic Conference in 2013. In addition, he helped the school gain positive notoriety, most notably in the form of a blue basketball court, the only one of its kind in the NCAA. Konya’s overall “New Gold Standard” campaign was distinguished as a finalist for the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrations (NACMA) Division I marketing department of the year.
While Oakland has already made a high profile conference switch (moving to the Horizon League last year), Konya’s marketing expertise certainly played a role in his hiring. His fundraising prowess – the CSUB athletic department raised over $2 million last fiscal year – makes him ideal for a school of Oakland’s stature.
“In my perception, Oakland University has a high ceiling for its athletics department and can quickly grow into one of the Top 10 properties in its respective NCAA classification,” Konya said. “In reaching this potential, it is my responsibility to be fiscally sound in practice and to seek revenue opportunities for growth, as well as to maintain an inclusive environment that values gender equity and cultural diversity for all members of the department while being reflective of the mission of the institution.”