The University of Kansas is expected to hire Northwestern’s Deputy Director of Athletics and Assistant Vice President for Development Travis Goff to direct its Athletics department, Matt Fortuna of The Athletic reported on Monday.
Goff arrived at Northwestern in 2012 after a five-year stint at Tulane and has been a critical player in the building boom NU Athletics has experienced over the course of the last decade. In his development-focused role, Goff led a team that raised over $440 million towards the development of Northwestern’s Athletics and Recreation facilities.
That money has funded a variety of major projects in recent years. In 2018, construction was completed on the Walter Athletics Center and Ryan Fieldhouse, Northwestern’s hallmark facilities on the shore of Lake Michigan that cost a combined $270 million to build. The $110 million renovation of Welsh-Ryan Arena also concluded in 2018. The next year, the brand-new Trienens Performance Center, which serves as an indoor practice and training hub for Northwestern’s basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball teams, opened adjacent to the refurbished arena, and Patten Gymnasium completed its transformation into the new home of Northwestern’s fencing and golf teams.
Goff has also overseen a positive transformation in the on-field product of NU’s most popular sport. As the sports administrator for football, Goff has been a behind-the-scenes contributor to the ‘Cats’ meteoric rise on the gridiron. During Goff’s time in Evanston, Pat Fitzgerald’s program won five bowl games after a 64-year drought, went to its first two Big Ten Championships ever and has finished over .500 in all but three seasons.
Goff’s experience in facilities development and football administration likely helped him land the KU job. In 2017, Kansas announced the “Raise the Chant” campaign, which aimed to raise $350 million to renovate the Jayhawks’ David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium and further enhance other athletic buildings. Plans for the project were seemingly disrupted when Jeff Long was hired as AD in 2018 and focused on other concerns instead, such as addressing accusations of basketball recruiting violations tied to the FBI’s investigation of Adidas and hiring Les Miles as head football coach.
Long was ousted from KU on March 10, two days following Miles’ firing in the wake of sexual harassment allegations from his coaching days at LSU coming to light. With Kansas looking for a new football coach and an end to its consistent on-field failures, in addition to the looming threat of NCAA sanctions on its flagship basketball program, Goff will have his hands full.
It’s unclear whether or not Goff was being considered to replace Jim Phillips — who departed Evanston in February to become the new commissioner of the ACC — as Northwestern’s next AD. Northwestern’s search committee for the role, which is chaired by Craig Johnson, NU’s Senior Vice President for Business and Finance, and features Combe Family Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, former women’s basketball star Lindsey Pulliam, major donor Pat Ryan and famous alum and ESPN personality Mike Wilbon, has kept a tight lid on the search process, and, thus far, no clear favorites for the job have emerged.
Even if he was offered the NU job, though, it’s quite possible that Goff would’ve turned it down in favor of a move to Lawrence. He grew up in Dodge City, Kan. and graduated from KU in 2002 with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and sociology before working in development for the university’s Athletics department.