Athletic director John Hardt, whose tenure began with the new year, wasted no time defining his focus during his introductory press conference in November: “Our No. 1 priority is always going to be the student-athlete,” he said at the beginning of his remarks.

His record shows that this was his top concern at Bucknell University, where he was director of athletics and recreation since 2000. Bucknell boasts one of the nation’s top graduation rates, and its teams regularly compete for championships across more than two dozen sports. Before Bucknell, he had positions at Michigan State and Syracuse. He played football at the University of Iowa and was a member of its 1982 Rose Bowl team.

In addition to athletics director, Hardt also holds the title of vice president and is a member of the University’s executive leadership team.

“It’s not a subtle thing,” he said. “Spider Athletics will be an actively engaged partner with leadership to reflect positively on the University enterprise. We will be great ambassadors for this University and will help spread the good word from coast to coast.”

Bucknell has won the President’s Cup — which rewards competitiveness across sports — 18 times in the 27-year history of the Patriot League. Hardt said his measure of competitive success will be similarly broad-based at Richmond.

“When we recruit a prospective student-athlete to become a Richmond Spider, we recruit them to the University of Richmond to be successful,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re on the field hockey team or the football team. We’re going to make good on that promise.”

He had no doubt about how to get off to the right start at Richmond.

“The first thing I need to do is meet with our coaches and listen to what their challenges are, both collectively and individually,” he said.