Kansas has found its new athletic director, and it’s somebody who has become very familiar to college football fans during the College Football Playoff era. Former Pitt and Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long has been named to the same role with the Jayhawks.
“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,” Kansas president Douglas Girod said in a statement. “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.”
Long replaces Sheahon Zenger, who was abruptly dismissed from his role in May.
“My family and I are thrilled to join chancellor Girod’s leadership team at the University of Kansas,” Long said in a statement. “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 brings plenty of experience to Lawrence, Kansas, most recently as Arkansas’ athletic director from 2008-17. At Arkansas, he navigated the program through the high-profile saga in which coach Bobby Petrino wrecked his motorcycle and was abruptly fired after it was discovered he was having an affair with a woman who worked in the athletic department.
Long later served as the chairman of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee for the first two years of its existence in 2014 and 2015. Over the second half of his tenure with the Razorbacks, he was widely considered one of the best ADs in the nation.
As the football program sputtered to a 4-8 record, Long was dismissed in the middle of the 2017 season, one that saw coach Bret Bielema dismissed at the end of the campaign.
The ongoing FBI probe into college basketball has resulted in a rather interesting bullet in Long’s new deal.
Long will make $1.5 million at Kansas, making him the second-highest paid athletic director in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione. Long worked under Castiglione as Oklahoma’s senior associate AD in 2001-02.