UW Huskies athletic director Troy Dannen leaving for Nebraska

Mar 20, 2024, 7:23 AM | Updated: 11:52 am

UW Huskies Athletic Director Troy Dannen...

UW Athletic Director Troy Dannen gets introduced at Washington on Oct. 14, 2023. (Jesse Beals/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Jesse Beals/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

For the second time in less than a year, the UW Huskies will be searching for a new athletic director.

Early Wednesday morning, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported that Troy Dannen is leaving the Pacific Northwest to become the new Nebraska athletic director. Nebraska was in need of a new AD as Trev Alberts left the school for Texas A&M last week. Nebraska officially announced the hire of Dannen roughly two hours later.

Per Thamel’s report, Dannen is receiving a six-year deal with Nebraska. Additionally, Thamel reports that the move from Washington to Nebraska was “deeply personal” for Dannen and his family. Both Dannen and his wife are from Iowa, so it’s a chance to be closer to home.

ESPN’s Thamel: Why Dannen left UW, what it means for hoops coach search

“There is a storied tradition at Nebraska but more work to be done. I truly believe our best years are ahead of us,” Dannen said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more grateful to interim President Chris Kabourek for this opportunity.”

Dannen came to Washington from Tulane last October to replace previous athletic director Jen Cohen, who left Washington for USC in August. Now, Washington will have its third athletic director in eight months and second in less than six months.

Dannen’s short time at Washington was interesting, to say the least.

He inherited a football program that was coming off an 11-2 season and joined the university partway through an undefeated regular season that culminated with an appearance in the College Football Playoff and National Championship game, which the Huskies ultimately lost to Michigan.

But Dannen was unable to ink then-head football coach Kalen DeBoer to a new extension, and DeBoer left the Huskies for Alabama just days after falling to Michigan. Dannen then moved quickly to hire Jedd Fisch away from Arizona.

Additionally, Dannen fired longtime men’s basketball head coach Mike Hopkins, whose tenure ended last week after seven years with the program. Hopkins’ Huskies teams had largely struggled in his tenure, failing to make the NCAA Tournament since his second season at the helm.

Now, Washington will be looking not just for a new athletic director, but a new men’s hoops coach, as well. The school’s last two athletic directors will both be conference competitors in the Big Ten with Cohen at USC and Dannen at Nebraska.

It was expected that Dannen would be the one taking the Huskies into the Big Ten coming off the major success in football but with a department deficit of nearly $8 million in the next fiscal year and a major jump in the debt services paid on the Husky Stadium renovation in the coming years.

At Nebraska, Dannen finds more fiscal stability, but also a tradition-rich football program that has not been to a bowl game since the 2016 season.

Dannen and Cornhuskers football coach Matt Rhule, who was hired last year by Alberts, know each other from their time in the American Athletic Conference. Dannen was Tulane’s athletic director while Rhule was coach at Temple.

“I’m so fired up about this hire,” Rhule said. “Interim President Kabourek has found exactly the right person to lead the Huskers forward. Troy sees what we see — that Nebraska is a special place, with special people, a great vision and the courage to be unabashed about wanting to win across the board.”

This post includes contributions from The Associated Press.

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