LAWRENCE – University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas A. Girod today named Jeff Long as the university’s new director of athletics.
Long brings more than two decades of experience in athletic administration at the Division I level, most recently at the University of Arkansas, where he led a program comprising 19 sports and 460 student-athletes from 2008 through 2017. During that time, he transformed Arkansas’ athletics department into one of the most successful in the country and established himself as a national leader within intercollegiate athletics.
Long will be officially introduced at a news conference Wednesday, July 11, in Lawrence at a time and location to be determined. He will start his role Aug. 1.
“Jeff Long has tremendous leadership and administrative experience in major college athletics, and he is a terrific fit for Kansas Athletics as we work to ensure our student-athletes succeed on the field and in the classroom,” Girod said. “Those who know him describe him as a man of character who cares deeply about higher education and the student-athletes he serves. For all these reasons, we are thrilled to welcome him to the University of Kansas.”
During Long’s tenure, Arkansas captured 34 conference championships and advanced to 139 postseason competitions, including the school’s first Bowl Championship Series appearance in football and national titles at the 2013 NCAA Men’s Indoor and 2015 NCAA Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships and the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. In 2016-17, Arkansas finished No. 20 in the Learfield Directors' Cup, which measures universities’ success across all sports, marking the university’s eighth top-25 finish in the previous 10 years. Long also launched a $160 million renovation to Razorback Stadium. In the classroom, the Razorbacks posted a school record student-athlete GPA and exceeded the national APR multiyear rate in all 19 sports, including posting its highest program average ever.
Additionally, Long served as the chairman of the inaugural College Football Playoff selection committee for 2014 and 2015 and remained a member of the committee through 2017.
Prior to leading Arkansas, Long served as athletics director at the University of Pittsburgh. Additionally, he has held administrative roles at the University of Oklahoma, University of Michigan, Virginia Tech University, Eastern Kentucky University and Rice University. He held coaching staff positions at Duke University, the University of Michigan and North Carolina State University. In total, he has been an athletic director and administrator in five of the six Bowl Championship Series conferences — the Big 12, Big Ten, Big East, Atlantic Coast and SEC.
“My family and I are thrilled to join Chancellor Girod’s leadership team at the University of Kansas,” Long said. “It was clear from the moment I met with the chancellor and his search committee members, they have a deep love for the university and understand and appreciate the positive role intercollegiate athletics plays in the university community. Through our conversations, it became evident we share a common belief that the student-athlete experience prepares young people for the challenges they will face throughout life. I am excited to work with the student-athletes, coaches, staff, the community of Lawrence and the incredible fan base to build on past success and create a shared vision for the future of Kansas Athletics.”
Long comes to KU after a seven-week search process headed by Girod and KU alumnus Drue Jennings, who served as KU’s interim director of athletics in 2003.
“We are thrilled to have someone of Jeff’s caliber joining the University of Kansas,” Jennings said. “Jeff has a record of integrity, experience in hiring coaches, ties with other Bowl Championship Series schools, effective fundraising and a willingness to lead on national issues affecting college athletics. We can be proud that he’s joining us at KU, and we can be confident that Kansas Athletics is in good hands under his leadership.”
Long’s contract with Kansas Athletics will pay him $1.5 million per year for five years. Of that amount, $1.3 million is paid by private funds from Kansas Athletics Inc., with the remaining $200,000 paid by the university.
An Ohio native, Long and his wife, Fanny, have two daughters, Stephanie and Christina.
What others are saying about the selection of Jeff Long
Joe Castiglione, vice president and director of athletics at the University of Oklahoma
“Jeff Long is a proven leader and one of the most respected athletics directors throughout the national landscape of intercollegiate athletics. I congratulate Chancellor Girod and KU leadership for making a fantastic hire. Speaking from experience, I know Jeff is a ‘big-picture thinker’ and has always been committed to creating a values-driven culture where student-athletes’ development and success is the focus. To achieve his vision for the overall program, he will reach out and connect with all stakeholders to get them involved in making things happen. I’m excited to work with him in the Big 12, and I know our conference will benefit from his input.”
Bill Self, KU men’s basketball coach
“Jeff Long is among the best and most respected athletics directors in the country. He has great experience, a great pedigree, and he knows what it takes to succeed at the highest levels. While I’m just getting to know Jeff, I’m impressed that he’s universally described as a high-character guy who will provide strong support for every sport across the entire athletics program. From my perspective, he’s exactly the type of leader we need. Our fans can be excited about the future of Kansas Athletics.”
Lloyd Carr, former head football coach at the University of Michigan and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame
“Jeff Long is very smart and very fair. He is also very tough and very competitive. Kansas got it right. Great choice.”
Condoleezza Rice, chair of the Commission on College Basketball, member of the College Football Playoff selection committee and former U.S. Secretary of State
“Jeff Long is a skilled administrator and a person of integrity. I was fortunate to serve with him on the College Football Playoff committee. He was our chairman and respected by all. Jeff cares deeply about student-athletes — and their success in the classroom and on the playing field. The University of Kansas has made a great choice. Good luck to Jeff and the Jayhawks.”
Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff
“KU couldn’t have hired a better person. Jeff has a warm heart, solid judgment and a world of experience. Get ready, everyone, because you will love this guy.”
Bob Bowlsby, commissioner, Big 12 Conference
"Jeff Long will be an excellent addition to the Big 12. Jeff is a veteran administrator who has achieved at the very highest levels and who understands the components of championship athletics programs.”
Kirby Hocutt, Texas Tech University athletic director and former chair of the College Football Playoff selection committee
“I am excited to welcome my good friend Jeff Long to the Big 12 Conference. I have known Jeff for more than 20 years, and he has always exemplified the very highest standards of character and integrity in every situation. I enjoyed working alongside Jeff on the College Football Playoff selection committee, and I congratulate Chancellor Girod and the University of Kansas on an excellent decision.”
Steve Hatchell, executive director, National Football Foundation
“I commend the University of Kansas for naming Jeff Long as its new athletic director. He epitomizes every quality that is crucial to an athletics director today — vision, mission-oriented goal planning, a terrific work ethic and a vast range of experiences at many levels. He knows the Big 12 well and will make it his commitment to make KU as strong as it can be. His experience level is critical in the changing environment of collegiate athletics today. Jeff is exactly what KU needs today and into the future. He is not only an exceptional athletic director but a good person as well, with a great family. We are so happy for him and the University of Kansas. Well done, Jayhawks.”
Jed Hughes, consultant, Korn Ferry executive search firm
“Jeff Long is a seasoned athletics leader who has worked with Hall of Fame executives Bo Schembechler, Joe Castiglione and Frank Beamer, and who succeeded the legendary Frank Broyles at Arkansas. He brings more than 16 years of experience in leading Power Five programs. The University of Kansas has the potential, based on its donor base, new chancellor and an elite basketball brand, to make a bold statement on the national landscape under Jeff's leadership. He will ignite the stakeholders and help rally the Jayhawk nation to a highly competitive position within the Power Five conferences. Alumni and fans will see this hire as a strong step toward achieving excellence.”
Greg Sankey, commissioner, Southeastern Conference
“Jeff Long will bring integrity, energy and a relentless work ethic to his new position at KU. He has made meaningful contributions while serving and leading as athletics director at Eastern Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Arkansas, and he was a valued colleague during my transition to the SEC commissioner role. I wish he and Fanny all the best in this new chapter for their family.”
Joe Parker, director of athletics, Colorado State University
“Jeff Long is an extremely talented leader in higher education and recognized as one of the nation’s best. His uncompromising focus on integrity, deep commitment to the student-athlete experience, understanding of the collegiate sports landscape and ability to build authentic relationships provides a powerful springboard to advance Kansas Athletics.”