Jim Knowlton’s first hire as Air Force athletic director will be the one to replace him on an interim basis.

Col. Jennifer Block, a former Falcons volleyball player who currently serves as the reserve adviser to the superintendent, will take over the position on Thursday.

The academy said in a release that it has begun a search for a permanent replacement for Knowlton, who was announced on Monday as the new athletic director at California.

Knowlton brought Block on board in 2015 as the athletic department’s climate and diversity officer, where she teamed with Dr. Kimberly Dickman to launch holistic sexual assault prevention and healthy relationship training for cadet-athletes.

Cadets would meet in small groups over pizza and soft drinks to discuss respect, boundaries, how to break up and other issues.

“We do senior exit interviews with every cadet-athlete,” Knowlton told The Gazette in 2017, “and we get so much unsolicited feedback that the training is some of the best they’ve had in their four years. ‘It’s helped me with my boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s helped me with my relationship with my parents.’ It’s really, just, how do you teach respect.

“This is absolutely groundbreaking.”

Block is a contracting officer and combat veteran with over 26 years of Air Force experience. She has worked extensively in federal acquisitions and served as both major command and Air Staff levels.

“It is an absolute honor to be in this position at my alma mater,” Block, a 1992 Air Force graduate, said in a release. “Mr. Knowlton built an amazing team that is poised for continued success. I look forward to helping them in any way I can to continue their progress, represent the values of our Academy, and in welcoming whoever is chosen for this position in the coming months.”