KU hires Northwestern’s Travis Goff as 17th director of athletics, Girod says he’ll start role immediately

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Story updated Monday, 7:55 p.m.

Just shy of one month after Kansas Athletics parted ways with former football coach Les Miles and athletics director Jeff Long days later, a new leader has been named to oversee athletics at the University of Kansas.

Travis Goff, who currently serves as a deputy athletic director at Northwestern University, will take over as KU’s 17th director of athletics, Chancellor Douglas Girod announced Monday afternoon. The news was first reported by the Athletic and the Kansas City Star.

Goff, a Dodge City native and 2002 KU alumnus, is by no means walking into an easy gig — one which he will begin immediately:

• He will have to decide, and soon, whether to quickly hire a permanent football coach or retain interim coach Emmitt Jones through the 2021 season (the football team began spring practices on March 30.)
• The KU basketball program is still embroiled in alleged NCAA violations that, if punished, could result in a postseason ban and show-cause penalties for coach Bill Self and assistant coach Kurtis Townsend (meaning schools couldn’t employ them without showing cause to the NCAA for why the two should be allowed to coach again)
• The most recent public accounting of KU Athletics department finances showed that, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the department is facing a revenue shortage of roughly $30 million.

One key task was taken off Goff’s plate last week, though, as KU Chancellor Douglas Girod and former interim AD Kurt Watson signed Self to a lifetime contract to remain coach of the Jayhawks.

“Travis stood out due to his experience, his reputation as a man of integrity, and his demonstrated ability to connect with faculty, staff, alumni and donors,” Girod said in a statement. “I am especially impressed with Travis’ vision for KU. Travis understands the challenges we face and the changing landscape of collegiate athletics. At the same time, he is well-positioned to help us build on our recent successes in student-athlete healthcare, diversity and inclusion, and student-athlete academic achievement.”

“The fact that he is a Jayhawk himself is an added bonus and will undoubtedly serve him well as he moves Kansas Athletics forward,” Girod added.

Kansas Athletics posted a copy of Goff’s contract on its website Monday evening, which revealed he will be paid an annual salary of $700,000 — or $800,000 less than Long made with his base salary of $1.5 million. The deal runs for five years, through June 30, 2026, and includes the following:

• A possible performance-based bonus each year, up to but not exceeding 20% of Goff’s annual salary (or $140,000)
• Membership to one country club (with golfing privileges) and one health club in Lawrence. Personal expenses at both clubs are Goff’s responsibility
• The use of one car through Kansas Athletics’ Wheel Club program
• Four season tickets to home football, men’s and women’s basketball, and volleyball games (two of which are for business use, two of which are considered part of Goff’s compensation)
• $30,000 in moving expenses with a KU-approved company (or up to three months of temporary housing provisions, if needed)
• Spousal travel for Goff’s wife, Nancy, to four football and men’s basketball games away from Lawrence, as well as any postseason games involving the football or men’s and women’s basketball teams
• A provision stating that if Goff takes another job before June 30, 2024, or year three of the contract, he owes KU $700,000

Click to access Travis-Goff-KU-AD-Employment-Contract-Executed-Version-Redacted.pdf

Goff’s employment will not be affected by any potential punishments KU receives related to alleged NCAA infractions — a contract in Long’s previous contract that was wildly unpopular and raised many eyebrows with KU fans.

KU also seems to have included a section in Goff’s contract in direct response to the circumstances under which Long, and more specifically Miles, parted ways with the university in March.

Goff agreed by signing the contract that he has not been accused of or engaged in sexual harassment, sexual assault, or other forms of sexual misconduct or discrimination, nor had he retaliated against anyone for making a complaint of sexual misconduct. The contract also states that Goff agreed he has not been a part of any settlement agreement related to sexual misconduct involving him or anyone he had supervisory authority over.

He also agreed that he would undergo all KU training on sexual misconduct and require KU Athletics employees to do the same.

No such provisions were included in Long’s contract, Self’s contract signed on Friday, or any publicly available contract for a KU employee that the Lawrence Times could find Monday.

Long parted ways with KU after allegations of sexual misconduct involving Miles’ coaching tenure at Louisiana State University emerged via a 148-page report from Husch Blackwell, a nationwide law firm investigating LSU’s handling of sexual misconduct cases at its university. Before his departure, Long stated that KU was unaware of any allegations involving Miles, and that Miles stated unequivocally during the interview process that there was nothing about his past conduct that could come back to embarrass himself or KU.

Goff will be introduced as KU’s director of athletics in a press conference on Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Lied Center, 1600 Stewart Drive. Attendance will be limited due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“With a long history of success, unwavering partnership with campus leaders, and the unparalleled passion of the Jayhawk fanbase, this is one of the most humbling responsibilities and opportunities in college athletics,” Goff said in a statement. “As a native Kansan and Jayhawk alumnus, I’m thrilled to return to Lawrence with my family and to continue to make this department a point of pride for our entire university.”

Goff had been at Northwestern since 2012, serving as deputy athletic director and assistant vice president. His main duties, according to Northwestern Athletics’ website, have centered on development — the branch of athletic departments that manages fundraising. Since he arrived at Northwestern, Goff oversaw the intake of more than $440 million and helped raise the university’s average yearly fundraising haul from $6 to 8 million to $70 million.

He also worked in athletics development at KU before moving to Tulane University in Louisiana, where he worked from 2006 to 2012.

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