The search for the next Athletic Director at the University of Kansas is over. Jeff Long, who last held the same title at Arkansas, will take over the position left open since Sheahon Zenger was fired in May.
Long is known as a "football guy," which likely appealed to the university for obvious reasons. He was fired by Arkansas last fall, with the main issue being, interestingly, the football program. Bobby Petrino, a Long hire, was let go under embarrassing circumstances. Long seemingly made a home run hire in Bret Bielema to replace Petrino, but the program didn't take off under the former Wisconsin coach, and Long was fired before the end of last season.
While it's unusual for a school whose biggest opportunity is the football program to hire an AD recently fired for a lack of football success, Long does have a great reputation. He was the first chairman of the CFP selection committee and was named AD of the year by SportsBusiness journal in 2015. In 2011, he started a $320 million project for improving athletic facilities, and by the time he was let go, had already secured a whopping $160 million of it.
Long will earn a base salary of $1.5 million, making him the second highest paid AD in the conference. He also has some extra cash headed his way if the basketball program were to end up on probation as a result of the Adidas scandal.
It's tough to judge an AD hire because, unlike with coaches, there's no win-loss record to use as easy identifiers of success and failure. However, there seems to be a lot of respect for Long in the college athletics world, so cautious optimism is probably fair. In all likelihood, we'll see him make his first big hire this winter, barring a sudden, drastic turnaround under current coach David Beaty.