AD Chatter: Could KU's search be over on Monday?
Now that we’re smack dab in the middle of KU Chancellor Douglas Girod’s “within the next few weeks” timeline that he provided after KU and Jeff Long parted ways on March 10, here’s a quick look at the latest info I’ve been able to gather as KU’s search for a new AD moves into its fourth full week.
I have not yet been told that KU’s search for a new athletic director will end on Monday, but it sounds like it definitely could.
Sources indicated this weekend that there’s been talk of the KU plane (and perhaps more than one private plane) heading from Lawrence to Chicago on Monday, which would certainly lead you to believe that Northwestern Deputy AD Travis Goff could be the pick.
I also was told over the weekend that Tulane AD Troy Dannen was (or perhaps still is?) involved deep into the process and, like Goff, went through both Zoom and in-person interviews.
The Athletic’s Matt Fortuna reported last Tuesday that Goff and Dannen were “the favorites to land the job.” And while every indication I’ve been given since then tells me that that was dead on, I heard of at least one potential mystery candidate who might have been involved as recently as last week.
None of my sources shared a name — or even speculated — on that one, but at least one of them heard that the KU plane visited Dallas last week.
As we’ve learned far too many times during these deals, that could have been completely random or for some reason other than the AD search.
But if the plane was in fact in Dallas AND there for the search, the two most likely names that come to mind there are SMU AD Rick Hart and North Texas AD Wren Baker.
No big revelation here, but another source told me last week that KU, at least initially, wanted to look long and hard at sitting ADs. However, KU ties also were deemed to be important in the search, and Goff graduated from KU and grew up in Dodge City.
For what it's worth, KU's open AD job listing was still on TurnkeyZRG's website as of 11 p.m. Sunday night, but given that the search firm prides itself on keeping things quiet, it would make perfect sense to me for the listing to stay there until an announcement is made.
Because Goff is the hottest name at the moment, here’s a little deeper look at his resume.
After working in the KU athletic department following his graduation in 2002 (journalism and sociology), Goff went to Tulane to get his master’s degree in business administration in 2007.
As a quick aside, I graduated from KU in 2000 and am 42 (43 in June), so Goff is likely in the 39-40 range.
After getting his master’s at Tulane, he stuck around and worked as an Associate AD for External Affairs until leaving for the job of Deputy Athletic Director/Assistant Vice President (Development) at Northwestern in late 2012.
According to his Northwestern bio, Goff, as a member of former Northwestern AD Jim Phillips’ executive staff, has been involved in “all high-level strategic decisions for the department,” while also serving as the sport administrator for football, volleyball and baseball.
Phillips recently announced he was leaving Northwestern to become the commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd recently reported that Goff has been heavily involved in helping find Phillips’ replacement.
Goff’s bio indicates that he has seen more than $400 million worth of facility upgrades during his career, and, in addition to his administrative duties, Goff has led Northwestern’s Athletics & Recreation’s fundraising initiatives, which include a campaign goal of $450 million, major gift and annual programs and overseeing a team of 11 development professionals.
In 2019, Goff was named to Sports Business Journal’s “Power Players in College Sports” list. A year earlier, he also was recognized as a College AD “Next Up” honoree, as one of 11 people on a list of administrators who were ready to become athletic directors.