New Kansas AD Long Ready For Football Challenge, Hoops Scandal
New Univ. of Kansas AD Jeff Long has made it clear that he is "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," according to Tom Keegan of the LAWRENCE JOURNAL-WORLD. During his introductory press conference yesterday, Long said that he "would not tolerate the status quo" from the football program. Long, who spent almost 10 years as AD at Arkansas, "didn't try to pass himself off as lifelong lover" of KU and only "dropped one 'Rock Chalk,' at the very end" of the conference (LAWRENCE JOURNAL-WORLD, 7/12). In K.C., Sam Mellinger notes Long has been "described as a coach's AD," and he spent much of yesterday talking about "eliminating obstacles, raising money and selling the program to fans and donors." However, he also knows those are things that "sound good in a vacuum but are made toothless without a product fans believe in." Long was "noticeably excited" about his Aug. 1 official start date (K.C. STAR, 7/12).
HOW WE GOT HERE: In K.C., Jesse Newell notes KU AD Search Committee Chair Drue Jennings "felt positive vibes" in his first meeting with Long. The last week of June, Jennings "traveled via KU's company jet" with Chancellor Douglas Girod to "formally interview" Long. Jennings said that Long was "sociable but still tough as nails." Long was "compassionate toward people, yet spoke about not backing down from difficult situations" when he was Arkansas AD. Jennings said, "This guy will suffer no fools. He's disciplined. He holds people accountable. He can handle the heat." Newell notes Girod believed Long's "combination of experience, leadership and fundraising acumen should help move KU forward over the next few years." Long said, "The challenge is what got me excited about Kansas. For an AD, some of us look for challenges and we like to compete, as I say." Long will make $1.5M annually for the "next five years." The base salary is "more than double what his predecessor, Sheahon Zenger, was making." But the financial commitment is something Jennings "thinks is necessary." Jennings: "The chancellor knew that when we started this, he was really going to have to cinch the belt up and play for real. If you want to get done what you want, which is to elevate the profile of this entire university -- athletics as well -- to move it up to the next level, you've got to play hardball" (K.C. STAR, 7/12).
MAKING CONNECTIONS: In K.C., Gary Bedore notes a 44-minute initial phone conversation between KU men's basketball coach Bill Self and Long, followed by additional chats between the two, "proved pivotal in Long taking the job." Long said, "I saw firsthand why Bill Self is such a great recruiter, because I’ll be candid, he recruited me here." Self said, "I didn’t recruit him. That was him being kind. That’s an exaggeration. The place recruited him, but I had a chance to talk to Jeff a few times throughout the process" (K.C. STAR, 7/12).