03 May

Washington loses second key athletics administrator in less than a year

Nebraska has hired Washington athletic director Troy Dannen to the same position, the university announced Wednesday. Dannen will officially replace Cornhuskers legend Trev Alberts, who departed for Texas A&M last week. Dannen’s initial deal will cover six years, according to ESPN.

“Joining the Nebraska family is truly an honor,” Dannen said in a statement. “My family and I are humbled by the opportunity to be part of such a proud athletics program, institution, community and state. Growing up in Iowa, I watched a lot of Nebraska football on Saturdays with my family. I’ve spent a lot of time in the state and I’ve found that we share a similar approach to life, work and sports: Work hard, stay humble, compete and expect to win.”

Dannen’s departure leaves Washington scrambling for an athletic director for the second time in less than a year. In August 2023, the Huskies lost former boss Jennifer Cohen to USC, which led to Dannen’s eventual hiring in October.

Though Dannen’s time at Washington was brief, it was impactful. He was hired in the middle of one of Washington football’s most successful seasons in program history. The Huskies finished the regular season 12-0, won the Pac-12 championship and made it all the way to the College Football Playoff National Championship before suffering their first loss at the hands of Michigan.

On the back of that success, and in the wake of legendary coach Nick Saban’s retirement, Washington lost coach Kalen DeBoer to Alabama in January. That left Dannen with a coaching search just four months into his tenure. He worked quickly to lure Arizona’s Jedd Fisch, with the hiring made official just four days after DeBoer’s departure. Fisch, who led Arizona to a 10-win season in 2023, received a seven-year contract that pays him just under $8 million annually.

Now, at least, Dannen should have some time to establish himself at Nebraska before facing any major decisions. On the gridiron, the Huskers are entering their second year under coach Matt Rhule, who just missed out on making a bowl in his first year with the program. The men’s and women’s basketball programs are both playing in the NCAA Tournament (coincidentally enough, against Texas A&M in both brackets), and the women’s volleyball program recently hosted the most-attended women’s sporting event of all time with more than 92,000 fans inside Memorial Stadium.

If Dannen ever needs to make a move, though, he has a proven track record of identifying successful coaches. Prior to his stint at Washington, Dannen was the athletic director at Tulane from 2015-23 and hired former Green Wave coach Willie Fritz in 2016. Fritz subsequently took the Green Wave to three AAC Championship Games, posted a 3-1 record in bowl games and amassed a 23-4 record over the last two seasons. Fritz parlayed that success into an appointment at Houston this offseason.

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