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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

New KU AD vows to ‘break the cycle’ of losing football

New University of Kansas athletic director Jeff Long addresses those gathered for his introductory news conference on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at the Lied Center Pavilion.

New University of Kansas athletic director Jeff Long addresses those gathered for his introductory news conference on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at the Lied Center Pavilion.

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Jeff Long, the University of Kansas’ newly hired athletic director, made it clear at his formal introduction on Wednesday that he was determined to tackle two of the biggest challenges facing the department: rebuilding the ailing football program and dealing with an ongoing scandal in the college basketball world to which a current and former Jayhawk have been linked.

At the ceremony, which was held at the Lied Center and presided over by KU Chancellor Douglas Girod, Long did not wait until he was asked questions to address the state of KU football. He said he would not tolerate the status quo from the program, which has the worst eight-year record among the 130 schools that compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

“I’d like to make, state, one message to the KU family, specifically about our football team,” Long said during his opening remarks. “It’s time to break the cycle. Coach (David) Beaty is our coach, and we all need to support this program, and we need to support the young men who play the game.”

Long then asked for support from the fan base: “Become a season-ticket holder, buy a single-game ticket, join the Williams Fund. Do whatever you can do to help us be successful. It’s time to break the cycle.”

Long said that Beaty offered to return from a family vacation for Long’s introduction but Long “insisted” that the coach stay with his family. Long also said he instructed all of KU’s coaches not to alter their recruiting schedules and family vacations, saying, “They don’t need to be here for this little piece of Kansas history.”

Basketball coach Bill Self, volleyball coach Ray Bechard and tennis coach Todd Chapman, three of the department’s successful coaches, were all in the room, as were Self assistants Jerrance Howard and Kurtis Townsend.

The new athletic director didn’t answer what he considers to be the length of a fair evaluation period for a struggling coach, but did make it clear when the evaluating will start.

“We will really start to know the progress of the program on September 1, when the season begins,” Long said of the football opener against Nicholls State.

Shortly after it was announced last week that he would replace the recently fired Sheahon Zenger as leader of the program, Long said he set about making phone calls to every head coach of KU’s 18 sports programs.

That includes Beaty, who has gone 3-33 in his three seasons at KU.

“I know he’s a coach. I know he’s a good person,” Long said of Beaty. “I know he works hard.”

A native of Kettering, Ohio, Long spent almost 10 years as athletic director at the University of Arkansas and was fired in mid-November via a letter from Arkansas Chancellor Joe Steinmetz to Long in which he thanked him for leading the department with “character and integrity.”

In announcing the termination in a release, Steinmetz wrote that over the course of 2017 Long had “lost the support of many of our fans, alumni, key supporters and members of the university leadership, support that I believe is critical in our pursuit of excellence.”

The failure of Long’s second permanent football hire, Bret Bielema, to maintain the on-field success of Long’s first Arkansas football hire, Bobby Petrino — coupled with Long’s decision to extend Bielema’s contract after the coach compiled a 10-15 record in his first two seasons — contributed to Long’s decline in popularity in Fayetteville.

Long’s first athletic director job came at Pittsburgh, and before that he worked as an assistant athletic director at Eastern Kentucky and Oklahoma.

Long, 58, was still being paid under his contract with Arkansas through June 30, 2022, and would have received $1 million a year until the end of that contract had he not taken another job. Kansas enticed Long back to work with a five-year contract that pays him an annual salary of $1.5 million. The university will foot $200,000 a year, and Kansas Athletics Inc. will pick up the rest. If Kansas receives any NCAA penalties in men’s basketball, football, volleyball or women’s basketball for “matters occurring prior to” Long’s tenure, the contract also includes an automatic extension equal to the length of the penalties.

Current Kansas basketball player Silvio De Sousa and former player Billy Preston have been linked to federal indictments relating to the ongoing scandal in college basketball involving apparel companies. Long said he was aware of the challenges the scandal would pose.

“I think that was something I certainly considered as I decided to take the job, so you know, I’m very confident that we’re going to work through this,” Long said.

Girod added: “That language was ours, in discussion with our consultant, and knowing, of course, that the story is out there, that the conversation continues, we wanted to demonstrate our confidence in where we were with this and our ability to work through this, and our belief that we are not at risk in this. And so that was really our doing, to put that language out there. That was not at his request. It was a way to reassure him that we are confident, as well, about where we are.”

Long didn’t try to pass himself off as a lifelong lover of Lawrence and only dropped one “Rock Chalk,” at the very end.

“When the job opened, I jumped in my car and drove up here to Lawrence, Kansas,” Long said. “You know, I had been here with Oklahoma and I had been here with Arkansas, but when you come in and out for an athletic event, you really don’t get to know the town. So I told my wife I was going to take a ride.”

Upon arrival in Lawrence, Long said he “spent a day driving around, walking around anonymously, going down (Mass. Street) and having a cup of coffee.”

The Longs’ older daughter, Stephanie, is a graduate student at Arkansas studying cognitive neuroscience. Their younger daughter, Christina, Long said, “is an undergraduate journalism student. Now she attends a university in a bordering state, and that’s where I’ll leave it.”

By that, he meant that Christina is a student at Missouri, the other half of KU’s No. 1 dormant rivalry.

Nobody asked at the press conference whether Long had any thoughts of rekindling that rivalry. He’ll field those questions after he starts the job.


More from Jeff Long’s introduction as the new KU athletic director


Comments

Brett McCabe 4 months, 1 week ago

Feeling great about this hire. Like everything about him so far. Really looking forward to a full evaluation of the football program. Also thrilled to hear his statement about building through people, not facilities.

Bryce Landon 4 months, 1 week ago

"Coach (David) Beaty is our coach, and we all need to support this program, and we need to support the young men who play the game.”

Endorsing Beaty is not the way to earn confidence that you have any business running the Kansas athletic department, nor does it do anything to inspire support for the pathetic excuse for a football program KU has been fielding.

I am not supporting this football program. Not until it shows legitimate, tangible progress in the W-L column. But we all know that's not happening under Beaty's watch; and given Long's track record at Arkansas of hiring coaches who were either sleazeballs (Petrino) or underachievers (Smith and Bielema), I don't believe for one minute that the cycle of bad football will ever be broken while he's AD at Kansas.

So if you'll excuse me, Mr. Long, I'll be wearing black and gold and cheering for a different flock of Hawks this football season.

And one more thing, Mr. Long - I hope to Almighty God that you never have to hire a coach to replace Bill Self. For one thing, Self could scrape more success from under his toenails than you could muster up in your entire being. For another thing, it's not as if Mike Anderson has made Arkansas basketball the force to be reckoned with that it was in the Nolan Richardson era. So you'd better do whatever it takes to keep Self around.

On Iowa in football, Rock Chalk Jayhawk in basketball.

Dane Pratt 4 months, 1 week ago

I'm probably confusing you with someone else but weren't you the guy who was calling for Bill Self's termination a few years ago? If not, please accept my apologies.

Robert Lofthouse 4 months, 1 week ago

The man is going to make changes in the football program leadership. That only seems rational. A new head coach needs more than a month to build his team. So the two questions for Mr. Long are: when? and who?

Dirk Medema 4 months, 1 week ago

I'm probably confusing you with someone else but weren't you the guy who was quitting your relationship with KU Football so you could go jump on someone else's bandwagon?

Why are you still here?

Brian Zachary 4 months, 1 week ago

I thought we were promised to be relieved of his presence for evermore.

Bill Meyer 4 months, 1 week ago

This tells me that your are a "fair weather fan". You only support winning programs. Are you going to stop supporting the basketball team if/when they have losing seasons? Not a true fan of the school.

Tj Kaberline 4 months, 1 week ago

But wait till the playoffs Bryce is going to be screaming "Roll Tide". you don't think if may of been a political move to make nice with the new football coach we all know that is going to get fired by the end of the season? KU has enough fans feel free to jump on someone else wagon from here on out.

Keith Conklin 4 months ago

Bryce get out of here with your fakeness. Stay in your black and gold. Take that nonsense elsewhere and stop posting bs. KU will bounce back I would take Arkansas' record the last 10 years over KU's program. Since the 2009 season Arkansas went 62-520(.543) which is a winning program vs KU's 20-88(.185). So if they can turn this program half around that still be a plus double the amounts of wins and We have progress and that's all We want. Sure We'd all love that 2007 season to happen again. But Im damn sure Im not gonna abLandon my team just cause they've sucked for awhile or not give someone a chance to prove themselves and immediately cast them out . The SEC is the best Football conference in the nation its harder to win there. If Arkansas was in Big 12 they'd probably have a won at least 8 games or more a season.

Steven Haag 4 months, 1 week ago

Amen Dirk. Agree 100% het Bryce, glad to hear you are moving on to Iowa football. That means we should not see a post from you ever again on KU football until they become more successful. Unless........you are one of those left wingers that said they would leave the country if Trump became President, and yet they are still here. I was actually going to take my personal vacation time and help them pack😂😂😂😂😂. Looking forward to seeing your posts come basketball season

Craig Carson 4 months, 1 week ago

OMG, there is always one person on these post that has to bring in politics,,leave the left wing, right wing and damn sure Donald Dump off this message board..keep it all about sports

Brian Wilson 4 months ago

Donald Trump...MAGA, MAGA, MAGA!!

Thats what happens Craig when you try to suppress someone's 1st amendment rights. So OMG there is always one person that tries to force themselves upon others by telling them what to do!

Aaron Paisley 4 months ago

This is a sports website with people with different political leanings. Political discussions/comments on here have never ended well.

Steven Haag 4 months ago

Craig, I was using a simile. Look it up. It was the absolute best word picture that I could come up with relating to Bryce. It was almost perfect. Not trying to bring politics in, but in this case it was awesome 😎

John Smith 4 months ago

It’s a statement of fact that Long was fired from his last job because he lost the confidence of Arkansas fans in building a good football program. Now he is hired here to do just that. I really want him to succeed , but I’ve seen too much happy talk about people hired in the past who not only were abject failures, but had a previous record of failing.

It would have been better to find an AD to improve our football program who had not been fired from his previous job for failing to improve a football program. I mean that’s sort of what you do in any job hire. Look for someone who has been a success in their previous job.

I desperately want the program to improve as much as any fan, but I am very skeptical of this guy. I hope my skepticism is proven wrong.

Barry Weiss 4 months ago

Everybody takes something different from an article. My two take aways on Long's comments are that 1) Beaty will not last long. Couple of games max. 2) This basketball deal is serious and could be a real problem for KU. Hope I'm wrong on number 2.

Mike Hart 4 months ago

Here's my take: Stop trying to read between the lines and speculate on what Long means. Watch the season and let's see what happens one game at a time. The only thing we have to "take" from the article on Beaty is the following: "It’s time to break the cycle. Coach (David) Beaty is our coach, and we all need to support this program, and we need to support the young men who play the game."

I would guess most of the complainers on here calling for Beaty's head NOW... and refusing to watch/support the team... are violating the only request that Long made of the fanbase.

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