Redefining the Classroom

Great Lake State Weekend 2013

Ken Shouldice Alumni Achievement Award

Rick Comley '71

Rick Comley has gone a long way since he graduated from LSSU in 1971. His storied career in athletics – in both coaching and administration -- has singled him out as this year’s recipient of the Kenneth J. Shouldice Achievement Award, which recognizes professional achievement and community service.

A former national championship hockey coach at LSSU, Northern Michigan University and Michigan State University, Comley is one of only six NCAA Division I hockey coaches to have won more than 700 games, and one of only three to have won national championships at three separate schools. The Stratford, Ont., native led NMU and MSU to NCAA championships in 1991 and 2007, respectively, and LSSU to the NAIA title in 1974. He compiled an overall 783-615-110 record from 1974-2011.

“I’m proud to have been a player, assistant coach and head coach at LSSU,” Comley said. “I made many lifetime friends there and met my wife Diane (Mackey) there when we were students.”

Comley is the recipient of the Spencer Penrose Memorial Award as college hockey's national coach of the year in 1980 and 1991. He was named Central Collegiate Hockey Association Coach of the Year in 1980 and 1981, and was honored as Western Collegiate Hockey Association Coach of the Year in 1989 and 1991. He is a member of the LSSU Athletics Hall of Fame, the NMU Sports Hall of Fame, and was recently inducted into the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame.

Highlights of his MSU tenure include the 2007 national championship, the 2006 CCHA Playoffs title, and Great Lakes Invitational titles in 2004, ‘06 and ‘09. He has seen 12 former MSU players make the National Hockey League, and has coached 15 All-CCHA performers, six All-Americans, and three Hobey Baker finalists. Overall, he coached 10 Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalists, 15 All-Americans, four league players of the year, 26 first-team all-league selections, and 85 academic all-league selections.

Comley went to MSU after spending 26 years as the head coach at NMU from 1976-2002. He was the first head coach in NMU hockey history, compiling a 538-429-68 record and guiding NMU to CCHA regular-season championships and league post-season titles in 1980 and 1981. He also coached the Wildcats to the WCHA regular-season crown in 1991 and WCHA Playoffs championships in 1989, ‘91 and ‘92. He is one of three individuals to have coached regular-season champions in the WCHA and CCHA, an honor he shares with another former Laker coach - Bill Selman.

In addition to serving as NMU hockey coach, Comley spent 13 years as the school's athletics director from 1987-2000. During his tenure, NMU constructed the Superior Dome, the Berry Events Center, and the Tom Izzo-Steve Mariucci Academic Center. The NMU Department of Athletics enjoyed success, with national championship appearances and/or wins in football, volleyball, women’s and men’s basketball. The women's swimming team won five Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles, and the men's and women's Nordic skiing teams competed on the national level.

Comley began his coaching career at LSSU, where he was Coach Ron Mason's varsity assistant and recruiter during the 1972-1973 season. It was Mason who would eventually bring Comley to MSU years later. He was named LSSU’s head coach the following year when Mason was hired at Bowling Green and he guided the Lakers to a 59-46-3 mark from 1973-1976, winning an NAIA National Championship and a CCHA regular-season title in 1974.

A four-year letter-winner for Mason from 1967-1971, Comley was a two-time NAIA All-American and team captain in his senior year. He was voted most valuable player and LSSU’s Outstanding Athlete in 1971.

Comley earned a bachelor's degree in political science from LSSU and a master's degree in education from NMU in 1973.

Comley has been also been active in his community. He has served as honorary chairman of the American Lung Association Asthma Walk and American Red Cross blood drives. He has also been part of the Coaches for Kids campaign that raised money to build a pediatric emergency room at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing.

He and Diane have two grown children, Rick and Gillian.