Travis Goff right man for the job, tough decisions ahead
Travis Goff was the perfect fit for the Kansas athletic director job. Goff said on Wednesday you always hear about a person’s dream job or destination job and for him that job was at KU.
Goff met with the media during his introductory press conference and came across intelligent, someone with a plan, humble, and proud to be the athletic director at Kansas.
For the last eight years Goff learned under Jim Phillips at Northwestern, who is considered one of the best athletic directors in the country. Goff elevated to the Deputy AD position at Northwestern making him the right-hand man to Phillips.
“Jim is pretty well known to be one of the most student-athlete-centric, if not the most student-athlete-centric athletic directors in the country,” Goff said. “Being able to, with a background that can distract you a little bit from understanding that, it was really important for me to be aligned with someone where I could see that live day in and day out, again, keeping student athletes at the forefront. I think that's one of the things that Jim reiterated and reminded me and taught me day in and day out.”
One of the big topics surrounding Goff’s arrival at Kansas, will be the handling of the football program. When he was at Northwestern, he was the football supervisor and worked close with Pat Fitzgerald. He has built the football program into a consistent winner.
Fitzgerald was hired when he was 31 years old and has guided Northwestern to 10 bowl games over the last 13 years.
“Fitz was awesome through this process and so incredibly supportive,” he said. “He’s a guy who's lived this idea of how do you build something that's going to be sustained, because that's taken years at Northwestern, as you know. It's been more about what have I been able to witness and soak up in that building process. So, I've been learning from him for eight and a half plus years. And so, I'll take some of that and he'll be a great sounding board through the process for sure.”
Goff is taking a measured approach when it comes to the football program. He just landed with his family in Lawrence on Tuesday afternoon. He’s barely been on the job two days and he wants to make his decisions are calculated.
“Coming in, the most important thing to me was do as much work as I could on the front end, get organized, have a plan, have a few different plans, understand the options,” Goff said. “You can only do so much of that before you hit the ground.”
He attended football practice his first day on the job. He liked the energy he saw from Emmett Jones and the coaching staff and plans to see more.
“It would not be doing the right thing for the University of Kansas for me to have arrived yesterday with putting the head down, and (say) this is our direction, and this is how we're moving forward,” he said. “Without the chance to spend time with Coach Jones, his staff, observe, and then listen.
“I've got to listen to the individuals who know a lot more than I do today, about where Kansas football is at, the state of that roster, the mindset of the student athletes. And so that's, again, what I've kind of said, I want to dig deeper with you on that.”
Goff is from Dodge City where he was raised in a family of teachers, coachers, coaches, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. After graduating from Dodge City High, he enrolled at Kansas and recalled one day during his junior year.
“I walked into the athletic department and I said, ‘Hey, I want to volunteer. I just want an opportunity as a student to learn and try and understand a little bit about what college athletics is and this idea that there's potential career opportunities there,’” he said. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made.”
Twenty years later after asking to volunteer he finds himself back at his alma mater as the athletic director.