At just 41 years old, Travis Goff has his destination job as the director of athletics at the University of Kansas.
Speaking to a socially distanced crowd of mostly friends, family members and Kansas Athletics staff members during an introductory press conference on Wednesday, Goff, a Dodge City native and 2002 KU alumnus, said it was a humbling experience to be asked to come back and lead his alma mater.
“This is my destination job. This is where I received an incredible education, where I started my career, and where I fell in love with college athletics,” he said. “It’s the absolute honor of my professional lifetime to come back and serve my alma mater, a place that has done so much for me.”
Officially hired on Monday, less than a month after KU parted ways with former AD Jeff Long, Goff appeared equally excited and emotional in both prepared remarks and a following question-and-answer section with the media.
“You’re going to see the Goffs, when we get COVID fully in the rearview, out in this community and on this campus. They’re going to be an engrained part of the Jayhawk family. There’s no question in that,” he said. “(And to the fans), your dedication and passion is felt, truly, all over the world. I felt that every day in my 17 years of being away from Lawrence. We’re going to win championships, and I can’t wait to get you back in our stadiums and bring that energy and passion to our student athletes again.”
KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said that Goff presented himself throughout the hiring process as someone with not only the right skill set to be KU’s 17th director of athletics, but someone who is the right fit for the job.
“Over the course of his career, he’s really established himself as one of the most talented and respected administrators in athletics across the country,” Girod said. “That reputation was confirmed time and time again as we talked to his colleagues, his coworkers and those who are familiar with his work from literally across the country.”
“He’s committed to the student athlete both on the field and in the classroom, he’s universally described as a man of character and he cares deeply about higher education, and he’s a visionary — and a knowledgable one,” he added.
A handful of days into the job, Goff was largely noncommittal when asked for specifics on his vision for the department — namely the choice he’ll have to make quickly on whether to hire a permanent football coach or allow interim coach Emmett Jones (who was sitting in the second row of the audience) to coach the 2021 season.
“What I said to them is where we’re at exactly on Day 2, I come in openminded, I come in wanting to learn, listen, absorb and understand where we’re at with this football program,” he said. “There’s a plan, and it’s more about the when and the understanding of how to go forward in that plan.”
Little mention was made Wednesday of the NCAA allegations facing KU’s men’s basketball program and coach Bill Self, who received a lifetime contract extension last Friday and was also seated near the front of the audience at the Lied Center of Kansas.
As the Lawrence Times reported Monday, Goff’s contract will pay him 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.