There’s never a dull moment for Kansas Athletics Director Travis Goff. In addition to his day-to-day duties, Goff is spearheading a major renovation to David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium and overseeing a strategic plan for the athletics department that highlights the role of philanthropy in a new way. He’s also looking ahead to what he hopes will be winning seasons for all Jayhawk student-athletes.
A native of Dodge City, Kansas, Goff’s first job in Kansas Athletics was with the Williams Education Fund as a student. He graduated from KU in 2003 with a bachelor’s in journalism and a bachelor’s in sociology. After working in athletics at Tulane University and Northwestern University, Goff returned to Lawrence in April 2021 with his wife, Nancy, and their three children, Ellie, Carly and Graham. His first two years as athletics director saw the KU men’s basketball team claim their first NCAA championship title in 14 years, the hiring of three new coaches, including football coach Lance Leipold, and the creation of new roles to support Name, Image and Likeness for student-athletes. For Goff, these accomplishments are just the beginning.
What are you most excited about for the future of Kansas Athletics?
We’re working on so many different things, but at the core is building comprehensive excellence across the department that’s not just showing up on the field, in the water or on the court. Our student-athletes are having a better experience now than arguably ever through medical support, mental health support, life after sport and being ready for the career world.
What will the Gateway District do for Kansas Athletics and the university?
The whole vision behind the Gateway District is to make sure it drives real impact. In Lawrence, you think about the impact this project will have on businesses and the community. We think it far extends beyond Douglas County and Lawrence; it’s a state asset that will drive economic impact. For the university, it’s going to be a catalyst for activity on campus. It will truly be a gateway into KU, and every student has a chance to benefit from what that means.
Tell us about the recently introduced Ad Astra Society and the role you see philanthropy playing in realizing your long-term vision.
With the Ad Astra Society, we created a platform for supporters to invest in the future of Kansas Athletics. I think about giving through the society as the fuel that will allow us to tackle our most important factors. At my press conference when I was hired, I said philanthropy is going to be the driving force. It’s how we’re going to invest in our student-athletes’ experiences and transform KU. There’s a way for everybody to be part of that success. It’s not just the headline-grabbing gifts; it’s about giving and engagement. And I think Jayhawk Nation is ready to be part of that.
On a personal level, why is giving important to you?
To me, giving is a reflection of gratitude for the opportunities you have. Without my education, both in the journalism school and the sociology program, I’m not sitting here, in every way, shape and form.
What is it about Kansas Athletics that makes you want to come to work every day?
It’s about people and passion. First and foremost, I think we have special people. And this Jayhawk passion, the traditions and the history. Then there’s the potential of where we’re going. It’s unmatched. To me, this is the best place to work in the country without question.
What is your favorite Jayhawk tradition?
I’m biased, so I feel many of the traditions are aligned with the athletic experience. Walking into the concourse of a full Allen Fieldhouse is a feeling you can’t get in any other environment. And seeing thousands of students in our football stadium Wave the Wheat is pretty tough to beat anywhere across the country.
We’ve just launched our capital campaign publicly. How do you see this initiative impacting the university?
This campaign is going to serve as a catalyst to help drive a better version of the University of Kansas. From a student perspective, whether through facilities or programs, the student experience at KU is going to benefit from the support the campaign is going to drive.
What does being part of this campaign mean for donors on an individual level?
Whichever area of interest you give to at KU, I think it’s important to note you’re giving to empower and maximize young people’s future. You’re also investing in the future of KU.
The Gateway District to Create Generational Campus Impact
At the intersection of 11th and Mississippi Streets, the University of Kansas and Kansas Athletics are breaking ground on a bold new chapter. The Gateway District, featuring the reimagined David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, promises to profoundly enhance the north end of KU’s Lawrence campus with a new conference center, multiuse facilities and retail and dining space that will drive economic development year-round.
Support from private donors will play a major role in the financing of this project as no tuition or State General Funds will be used. Since the initial $300 million fundraising goal was set, a total of $165 million has been secured. Fundraising is ongoing.
“The Gateway District is a once-in-a-generation project to transform our campus and drive economic development throughout the region,” Chancellor Douglas A. Girod said. “Specifically, this project will create exciting new amenities for students, employees and visitors while providing Kansas Football the facilities it needs to compete at the highest level.”
Construction on the project will begin after the 2023 football season and will be completed by the beginning of the 2025 season. The team will continue to play at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in the 2024 season with reduced seating capacity.
Learn more about this project at kugatewaydistrict.com.