Jeff Long, named Director of Athletics by Chancellor Douglas Girod on August 1, 2018, brings over three decades of experience in athletic administration at the Division I level. Long is one of the most well-respected individuals in college athletics, which is evident by his role as the first-ever chairman of the College Football Playoff selection committee. His progressive leadership and expertise as well as his mantra of “compete, compete, compete,” has already made a lasting impact on Kansas Athletics.
Under the leadership of Girod and Long, KU set the standard and stepped out front as a national leader in student-athlete health care, teaming Kansas Athletics with LMH Health and the University of Kansas Health System for a true medical oversight and healthcare compliance model. Kansas is the first collegiate program to incorporate strength and conditioning into its medical oversight reporting model, which supports the health, safety and well-being of all student-athletes.
After assessing the football program in his first few months on the job, Long and his team implemented a new fundraising campaign called Break the Cycle, aimed at building a strong infrastructure for Kansas football. The next step in that process was finding the right coach to lead the football program. Long’s impact in only his second year leading the athletic department was evident by his ability to attract top candidates to fill the head football coach vacancy, which led to the hiring of Les Miles. With the hire, Long made Kansas Athletics one of the few programs in the nation that boasts national championship winning head coaches in football and men’s basketball, joining head coach Bill Self.
In 2019, two new facilities were opened across the Jayhawks’ campus including the Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena and a new indoor football practice facility. These state-of-the-art facilities enhance Kansas Athletics’ place as an attractive destination for the best student-athletes across the globe. The historic men’s basketball program, led by Hall of Fame Coach Bill Self, continued to lead the pack as Self led the Jayhawks to a nation-best 30th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
While Long pushes effort and excellence in each sport, it is also just as important to excel in the classroom. Nearly 500 student-athletes combined to set department records some of the highest grade-point averages in both semesters during Long’s first year.
Across the landscape of Jayhawk athletics, many individuals and teams continue to compete at the highest level. Junior middle-distance runner, Bryce Hoppel, won two national championships as well as three Big 12 Conference Championships. The tennis team, led by three First-Team All-American seniors, won the Big 12 Championship and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championship.
Long, and his fellow athletic directors in the Big 12, worked with the leaders at the conference to develop a branded offering on ESPN+. The Big 12 Now, exclusively streamed on ESPN+, is on the cutting edge for the future of television. Long’s vision has placed Kansas Athletics and the conference in the strongest position possible before the next round of television negotiations.
At the University of Arkansas, Long led a program of 19 sports and approximately 460 student-athletes from 2008 through 2017. During that time, he transformed Arkansas’ athletics department into one of the most successful in the country and established himself as a national leader within intercollegiate athletics.
During Long’s tenure at Arkansas, the Razorbacks captured 34 conference championships and advanced to 139 postseason competitions, including the school’s first Bowl Championship Series appearance in football, and national titles in Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track and Field and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field. In 2016-17, Arkansas finished No. 20 in the Learfield Directors’ Cup, which measures the institutions success across all sports. It marked the university’s eighth top-25 finish in the previous 10 years. Long also launched a $160 million renovation to Razorback Stadium. In the classroom, the Razorbacks posted a school-record student-athlete GPA and exceeded the national APR multiyear rate in all 19 sports, including posting its highest program average ever.
In 2015, Long was recognized as the SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily Athletic Director of the Year, and was also a finalist for the award in 2012. Long served as the chairman of the inaugural College Football Playoff selection committee for 2014 and 2015, and remained a member of the committee through 2017. He has been active in NCAA governance, having previously served on the NCAA Management Council, the NCAA’s Sports Wagering Task Force and the NCAA Championships/Sports Management Cabinet. He was also a member of the Executive Committee of the Division I-A Athletic Directors’ Association.
Prior to leading Arkansas, Long served as athletics director at the University of Pittsburgh. Additionally, he has held administrative roles at the University of Oklahoma, University of Michigan, Virginia Tech University, Eastern Kentucky University and Rice University. He held coaching staff positions at Duke University, the University of Michigan and North Carolina State University. In total, he has been an athletics director or administrator in four of the Power 5 conferences — the Big 12, Big Ten, ACC and SEC.
An Ohio native, Long was a two-sport athlete at Ohio Wesleyan University, earning seven varsity letters in football and baseball before completing his degree in economics in 1982. He earned his master’s in education at Miami University of Ohio while also serving as a graduate assistant football coach. He then moved on to football staff¬ positions at N.C. State, Duke and Michigan prior to joining the athletics administration at Michigan.
Long’s wife Fanny graduated from the University of Michigan. They have two daughters, Stephanie, a PhD student at Arkansas in cognitive neuroscience, and Christina, a journalism student in a bordering state east of Kansas.