Huard: The 3 things UW must prioritize with next athletic director hire

Mar 20, 2024, 1:54 PM

For the second time in less than a year, the UW Huskies are looking for a new athletic director.

Troy Dannen, who was hired in October after Jen Cohen left Washington for USC in August, is leaving the school for Nebraska after less than six months in Seattle.

UW Huskies athletic director Troy Dannen leaving for Nebraska

Seattle Sports’ Brock Huard, a former UW quarterback, is sick of the turnover at key positions at Washington.

“It’s just constant turnover. The University of Washington is on their fourth football coach in five years and will be on their third AD in less than a calendar year,” he said in an instant reaction video (watch at the top of this post). “There’s just no way you’re going to convince me in college athletics that moves so fast that this kind of instability is a good thing.”

Ultimately Huard says there are three things the University of Washington must prioritize when hiring Dannen’s replacement.

1. Local ties – ideally with UW Huskies

“First and foremost, they’ve got to have skin in the game. They’ve got to have purple and gold. They’ve got to (have that) blood that courses through their body and a background in our market and in particular this institution where it matters,” Huard said.

The Huskies have three in-house candidates who fit that bill, Huard said, in Erin O’Connell (deputy athletic director), Shannon Kelly (deputy athletic director for revenue generation) and his own brother, Damon Huard, a former UW and NFL quarterback and UW’s current director of community and external engagement.

O’Connell is a UW alum and former rowing assistant coach who was athletic director at Seattle Pacific University from 2009-15. Kelly is a former UW basketball player and Damon Huard joined UW’s athletic department in 2013.

“I think that’s first and foremost after all this change and all this turmoil, you’d better have somebody with blood in the program, a background in Seattle that loves it and calls it home and wants to be there,” Huard said.

He later added: “I think this time you get it right, and get somebody with some purple and gold blood flowing through their body.”

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

2. Better be a fundraiser

College athletics are all about the money, and that has to be a key attribute for this next hire, Huard says.

“You’ve got to find a fundraiser. This is about fundraising and raising funds,” Huard said. “You’re going to be on a half-share in the Big Ten and you’ve got to close that gap. That background in fundraising is critically important.”

3. Relationship builder

Relationships are critical in any job, but especially as an athletic director working with so many coaches and players. The Huskies will have a major change in the athletic department soon as UW is looking for a new head men’s basketball coach after firing Mike Hopkins last week.

“Relationships in hiring your next basketball coach, managing it,” Huard said. “Ultimately you’re the athletic director and you manage relationships and connections with people … You better have connective tissue with (the school’s head coaches across all sports).”

Check out the full video at this link or in the player at the top of this story.

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

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