Examining the Group of 5 candidates in the Kansas Athletic Director search

Kansas fired Sheahon Zenger on Monday, after serving as Athletic Director for the Jayhawks since 2011. During that time, Kansas athletics have been in a proverbial death spiral. In fact, during Zenger’s almost seven and a half year tenure, the Jayhawks football program won only 12 games.

But, Jayhawks fans are optimistic that the losing days are behind them.

Recently, Brett McMurphy tweeted out a few potential names that could be in consideration for the Kansas Athletic Director job:

Since this is Forgotten 5 – let’s dive in and take at the two Group of 5 candidates.

Terry Mohajir – Arkansas State

Honestly it’s incredible that more big programs haven’t come calling for Mohajir yet.

Since his hiring in 2012 the Red Wolves have been conference champions in football almost every year. That stat is incredible to begin with, but compound that with the fact that Mohajir has had to make several major coaching hires during that time frame – including replacing Gus Malzahn back in 2012. The fact that he was able to keep the Arkansas State football program in tact through multiple big-name departures, and continue to bring championships home to Jonesboro is incredible.

Arkansas State is Mohajir’s alma mater though – so it could take a little extra incentive for him to leave. However, if anyone is going to be able to lure him away, it could be Kansas.

Mohajir is actually originally from Overland Park – less than an hour’s drive from Lawrence. He was also an assistant football coach at Kansas back in the 90’s and worked in the athletics department there before being hired to lead the department at Arkansas State.

Things could get interesting between Mohajir and the Jayhawks. Sure, there are other promising candidates. But Mohajir has proven to be REALLY good at leading programs through adversity and making great coaching hires in football – two things that Kansas desperately needs in their next AD.

Sean Frazier – NIU

Sean Frazier has worked in athletics administration for the past few decades, and (if hired) Kansas would be his second stop at a Power 5 school. He served as Deputy Athletics Director at Wisconsin from ’07-’13.

Before I get in to negatives, I’ll point out that I think Frazier has done a really great job at NIU. But overall I just think there are a lot of reasons why this potential hire doesn’t make much sense.

NIU athletics have enjoyed a lot of success over the past few years under Frazier’s direction. The volleyball team won the conference championship in 2015, football won the conference championship in 2014, and basketball made it to their first postseason appearance in over 20 years during the ’15-’16 season.

Frazier has also had a direct hand in some pretty great things for NIU. He’s prioritized home-and-home football scheduling – managing to schedule several Power 5 programs for home games. Frazier has also set major records for fundraising during his tenure including a 190% increase in sport-specific giving at NIU over the past year.

But here’s why I don’t think he’s the guy for Kansas:

He’s perfect for all the things NIU needs – but he hasn’t really proven that he can do what Kansas needs.

In his last role, with Wisconsin, Frazier’s primary role was fundraising. And at NIU, fundraising and capital improvements have continued to top the list of Frazier’s accomplishments.

The problem is Kansas doesn’t really need that in their next Athletic Director.

They need a guy who can come in, make a big football coaching hire, make a few hires in non-revenue sports, and get fans energized about Kansas athletics again. Unfortunately, that kind of triumph-through-adversity scenario isn’t something that pops out at you on Frazier’s résumé.

Final Thoughts

McMurphy’s tweet raises some interesting possibilities. Overall – out of the two Group of 5 administrators named, I like Arkansas State’s Terry Mohajir the best. In fact, I think he’s got a strong chance over the entire candidate pool and I think he’d make an excellent hire for the Jayhawks.

Hell, maybe they’ll just hire Jeff Long and all will be well. Arkansas State fans certainly hope so.

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