Ranked: Who are and aren’t realistic UW Huskies AD candidates

Mar 20, 2024, 11:10 AM | Updated: 1:52 pm

The UW Huskies are suddenly looking once again for a new athletic director following Wednesday’s news that Troy Dannen is leaving for Nebraska after just five months on the job.

Story: UW Huskies athletic director Troy Dannen leaving for Nebraska

Having just executed a search following the departure of previous AD Jen Cohen, who left for USC last August, will Washington turn back to some of the same names who were reportedly in the mix the last time around?

Not even an hour after Dannen was officially announced by Nebraska as its new AD, UW Huskies alum and FOX football analyst Brock Huard shared his insight into potential candidates for Washington to replace him on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

Here is a look at what the former Dawgs quarterback said about the top names as he went through them during the show’s daily “Ranked” segment.

Ranked: Who will be the next UW Huskies AD?

No. 5: Scott Barnes

Current position: Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Oregon State
UW Huskies connection: Senior Associate AD at Washington from 2005-08
Additional PNW connections: Native of Spokane, was Eastern Washington AD from 1999-2005

Brock’s take: “Scott Barnes was a name that was mentioned the last time this opened up six months ago. Scott Barnes’ name is going to be mentioned, more than likely, this time around. He knows the job, he knows the ask, he knows what’s required of him. He didn’t get the job for some reason the last time around. Can he get it this time around? Can he add a level of stability and say, ‘Listen, (Washington president Ana Mari Cauce), this is my job. This is what I want. I am not leaving. I’ve been in Corvallis doing my thing and fundraising and building a football stadium and all of that. Let me get into the Big Ten and let me be a difference maker for you.’ So Scott’s name is going to be involved in it.”

No. 4: Pat Chun

Current position: Director of Athletics, WSU

Brock’s take: “(Chun is) No. 4 on my list – with a strong caveat. He might be No. 1, but I don’t see Pat Chun taking this job. I don’t know how Pat Chun, who’s been stabbed in the back and has to feel that way over on the other side of the mountains largely by the institution on this side of the mountains (Washington), could do this. I mean, it would be must-see TV now if he were to say yes, if he were to bury the hatchet and somehow work. From a talent standpoint, he would be No. 1. An acumen, an experience, a background, a relationship, hiring great coaches, doing more with less – which you’re going to have to do in the Big Ten with a half-share. So Pat Chun would be No. 1 but he’s No. 4 because I just don’t think he could do that. I might get a text from him saying otherwise, but I would have a hard time believing that he could quite bury that hatchet.”

No. 3: Erin O’Connell

Current position: Deputy Athletic Director & Chief Operating Officer, Washington
UW Huskies connections: UW graduate and former Huskies athlete who also an assistant women’s rowing coach for seven seasons
Additional PNW connections: Was Director of Athletics at Seattle Pacific from 2009-15

Brock’s take: “I don’t really know Erin O’Connell, I apologize. She’s the deputy AD, she’s going to fill in in the interim. She filled in in the interim last time when Jen (Cohen) left. So I’m going to put her on that list and probably No. 3 on this list because she’s been there and done that. She may be No. 1 on this list. She may be the one hired. I don’t know. … I just don’t have a relationship there. … I know that she was the interim the last time around and I’m sure was a candidate the last time around, as was Scott Barnes the last time around, as was maybe Put Chun the last time around before everything totally disintegrated and blew up. But I don’t really know her well enough to really give you a strong opinion.”

No. 2: Shannon Kelly

Current position: Deputy Athletic Director for Revenue Generation, Washington
UW Huskies connections: UW graduate who played basketball from 1992-96

Brock’s take: “Shannon Kelly was a hooper here. An awesome hooper, tough as heck, and feisty and aggressive and competitive. … This school is her lifeblood. … She is the deputy AD and she’s been big in fundraising, working with their big donors and big boosters. And guess what? Fundraising is really, really important as we move forward.”

No. 1: Damon Huard

Current position: Director of Community and External Engagement, Washington
UW Huskies connections: UW graduate who played football from 1991-95, joined athletic department in 2013 as Chief Administrative Officer of the football program.
Additional note: Is the older brother of Brock Huard

Brock’s take: “He knows all of the big donors, and he’s got great relationships with a bunch of them. I think the last time around (when Cohen left for USC), there were a bunch of them that put his name in the hat, and it was like, nope. Following Jen, we need somebody with experience. We need somebody connected. Following Jen, we need somebody as we move into the Big Ten to figure all this landscape out. … I would think this time around, if there were big donors and big boosters that were interested in ‘Big Brother’ last time, well, for six months he was on the inside. He’s worked right alongside Troy (Dannen) and he’s gotten to see how this whole administration works. If he wants to do it, if he wants to get up early and he wants to stay late, there may be an opportunity to entertain that. I would think he would interview this time around.”

Hear the full “Ranked” segment from Wednesday’s Brock and Salk at the end of the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

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

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Ranked: Who are and aren’t realistic UW Huskies AD candidates