The University of Kansas' search for both a new athletics director and football coach has ramped up in recent days, with multiple sources telling FootballScoop that strong contenders are emerging for both top positions.
Sources across college athletics have told FootballScoop that Northwestern administrator Travis Goff has emerged as the top candidate for athletics director while Tulane Green Wave football coach Willie Fritz and Army's Jeff Monken remain at the forefront of Kansas' ongoing football coaching search, and don't discount the possibility of Lance Leipold (see more below).
This also comes as KU, despite having fired former athletics director Jeff Long and separated itself from Les Miles, on Friday announced it was awarding a “lifetime” basketball contract to Bill Self.
Goff, Northwestern's deputy director of athletics and assistant vice president for development, is a KU grad. Mike Harrity, Army's deputy athletics director and chief operating officer, also is a Jayhawks grad who's expressed interest in the top post at his alma mater.
Multiple sources on Saturday told FootballScoop that Tulane athletics director Troy Dannen had informed people that he had withdrawn from consideration for the KU position.
Fritz has been seen as a top target for Kansas throughout this expedited process, made necessary last month when sexual harassment allegations against Miles were unsealed at LSU. So, too, has Army's Jeff Monken.
Fritz is a Kansas native with deep connections in his home state.
He served as a head coach at both the high school and junior college levels in Kansas, as well as Fritz's own collegiate career Pittsburg State. Fritz then began to carve success at the collegiate level as head coach at Sam Houston State as well as national junior college power Blinn College. Fritz also had a strong run as head coach at Central Missouri, further widening his name recognition in areas critical for the Jayhawks to recruit if they are to revive a program without a winning season since 2008.
Additionally, Fritz's brother, Ed, is a well-regarded and highly success prep basketball coach in Kansas with more than 600 career wins and also a friendly relationship with Self, Kansas' uber-successful basketball coach and the most influential member of the Jayhawks' athletics department.
Fritz arguably is the best overall possible selection for the beleaguered Kansas program. He's led the Green Wave to three-straight bowl games; the program had three in 31 years prior to Fritz's arrival.
Additionally, multiple sources confirmed to FootballScoop that Monken, who has dramatically rebuilt and reshaped the Black Knights' program, has remained a viable candidate for the Jayhawks' head coaching job. Though extended at Army through 2024 with a revamped contract after the 2019 season, Monken, per sources, has a handful of schools to which he can leave the Academy without a buyout penalty. Per sources, Kansas is believed to be one of those programs.
Buffalo's Lance Leipold has also remained a constant candidate throughout the process, having had national championship success at the NCAA's Division III level with Wisconsin-Whitewater and leading his current program, Buffalo, to unprecedented success. Leipold also has previous experience in the Midwest after multiple seasons as a Nebraska assistant.
Emmett Jones is presently serving as Kansas' interim coach. He's a former prep head coach in Texas and has been leading the team through spring camp since late March.
If the Jayhawks cannot nail down one of their top choices for head coach, sources indicated they could elect to keep Jones in an interim position through the upcoming season and then conduct a more traditional search process in the fall.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest coaching news.
UDPATE >> Multiple reports, including the attached tweet from Matt Fortuna, share that Kansas is nearing a finalized deal with Travis Goff as their new athletic director.