We leaned into candidates with ties to UW or the Northwest
USC’s next athletic director is Washington’s current athletic director, in what could be interpreted as Big Ten-on-Big Ten violence.
Jen Cohen is leaving the Huskies after seven years to take over at USC, an unexpected move that makes sense for both USC and Cohen.
The search for her replacement will almost certainly take weeks, if not months, and will almost certainly begin with Chris Petersen, the highly respected former UW football coach.
To be clear, we are skeptical of Petersen’s desire to enter the day-to-day operations of an athletic department.
After all, he resigned as coach after the 2019 season, partly due to dissatisfaction with the direction of college football. Four years later, the sport’s trajectory hasn’t changed — in fact, it has moved further away from Petersen’s ideal. As the department’s head, he’d be immersed in the shady side.
Having said that, Petersen would be a valuable asset to UW during the search. So he should be the first phone call — force him to say no, then allow him to offer advice.
Here are seven names that caught our attention. (Please don’t use this list for anything other than the Hotline’s curiosity.)
Scott Barnes: We anticipate that the Huskies will conduct a national search with a regional bias. Barnes has been in charge of Oregon State’s athletic department for seven years and is perhaps best known in Seattle as the man who hired Jonathan Smith off the coaching staff of the University of Washington. Furthermore, Barnes was born in Spokane and worked as an athletic department executive for Washington in the 2000s.
Pat Chun says Why can’t the Huskies hire a Cougar if Washington can join the Big Ten and Washington’s athletic director can go to USC? Chun has been vocal about his dissatisfaction with Pac-12 leadership (or lack thereof) in the two weeks since Washington left for the Big Ten. But, as far as we know, he has not specifically criticized the Huskies and has had a great working relationship with Cohen over the years. However, his dream job at Ohio State is currently unfilled. Chun will not make a move until the Buckeyes have made a decision.
Reed-Francois, Desiree: Why would Missouri’s athletic director leave the SEC for a position in the Pac-12? She refused. However, she may leave the SEC for a job in the Big Ten. In addition, the Bay Area native — she attended UCLA and has a law degree from Arizona — recently hired Dennis Gates as the Tigers’ men’s basketball coach. And guess what decision may be next on Washington’s agenda.
Stephanie Rempe: Nevada’s second-year athletic director has close ties to the University of Washington — and Petersen. She worked for Cohen’s predecessor, Scott Woodward, on Montlake for eight years, managing the Husky Stadium renovation project. Rempe went to Texas A&M and then LSU after Woodward. Oh, and she spent five years at Oklahoma under Joe Castiglione, one of the industry’s most respected athletic directors.
Terry Tumey: The former UCLA football player is now the head coach at Fresno State, and he hired Kalen DeBoer as the Bulldogs’ head coach in 2020 (after first working with DeBoer on Jeff Tedford’s coaching staff). The precise nature of their working relationship is beyond our expertise, but DeBoer will undoubtedly have a say in the hire. If things went well with Tumey in Fresno, the Huskies might consider a sequel.
Vincent, O.D. Have you never heard of him? That’s all right. The Huskies have done so. He was born in Seattle back in 1968. Then he went to Washington University and became an All-American golfer. He then led the Huskies to four NCAA Tournament appearances (before moving on to UCLA and then Duke). Then he was an athletic department executive for the Huskies and a PGA Tour executive. He is now a vice president at Montage International. Is he ready to return to campus? We don’t know. However, he would be both an inside and outside-the-box hire.
JD Wicker: Another move that favors men’s basketball. Wicker is in his eighth year at San Diego State and hired the head coach who just led the Aztecs to the national championship game (Brian Dutcher). Wicker is also familiar with the Pacific Northwest, having spent a decade on the athletics staff at Washington State. He was named Athletic Director of the Year by the Sports Business Journal in May.