Kansas Athletics’ long-term plan lays out goals for football program, NIL efforts and more

Kansas athletic director Travis Goff watches with members of the football team as a South Dakota field goal misses during the first quarter on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021 at Memorial Stadium. (Photo by Nick Krug/Special to the Journal-World)

In the coming years, the University of Kansas athletic department wants to “relentlessly” focus on building the football program, grow its name, image and likeness opportunities for student-athletes by 25%, and ensure that its athletic facilities are “among the best in the Big 12,” according to the department’s newly released long-term master plan.

The “To the Stars” plan, which was released Wednesday, touches on areas as diverse as stadium renovations, student-athlete health and wellness, graduation rates and the athletic department’s finances. Athletic Director Travis Goff said in a letter to fans that it was intended to be flexible and change as the athletic department’s needs change.

“This document is not fixed or final,” Goff said in the letter. “It will serve as a compass that will evolve just as college athletics continues to.”

The plan calls for all of KU’s sports programs to develop five-year performance plans and metrics and to invest in their “recruiting infrastructure.” But some programs get more attention in the plan than others.

Specifically, the plan says the athletic department must “Relentlessly invest in and support Kansas Football in order to support our strategic goals,” and also “Vigorously invest in Kansas Men’s Basketball in order to sustain and enhance its unprecedented legacy of success and University-wide impact.”

In both of those revenue-generating sports, the plan envisions “significant” name, image and likeness opportunities for those athletes and says the programs need to “Recruit and retain elite coaches” by offering “competitive compensation.”

It also envisions upgrading their facilities, especially David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium and the Anderson Family Football Complex.

The list of goals for the stadium improvements includes a “reimagined seating bowl design; expanded concessions, restrooms and accessible seating locations; improved concourse circulation; and new and diverse premium amenities.” It also mentions “integrating elements of Anderson Family Football Complex” into the stadium itself.

Some new stadium amenities have already been rolled out this season, and KU announced earlier this month that construction work on some football facility improvements was set to begin in 2023, as the Journal-World previously reported.

The football stadium projects might not all be sports-related. Chancellor Douglas Girod has previously said the university wants to build a more than $300 million “gateway project” near the stadium, which might include retail, dining, health care services and more. And the athletic department master plan nods to that “11th and Mississippi project” — it says the athletic department needs to create a “revenue and fan experience plan” involving the project that will “provide transformational resources to Kansas Athletics and the greater campus and Lawrence community.”

Other sports are also mentioned in the plan for facility improvements. One of the goals was technology improvements and other minor upgrades to Allen Fieldhouse, which the university had already announced plans for. Another set of goals involved renovating the Hoglund Ballpark locker rooms and doing early planning for a large-scale remodel of the ballpark.

In terms of name, image and likeness efforts for student-athletes, the plan aims to “grow licensed NIL opportunities by another 25% in the next 2 years” and develop “2 new innovative ways to engage with our fans” that have a long-term impact on the department. The plan says KU will “lean on” Altius and OpenDorse, two third-party firms that work with NIL in college athletics.

Some of the other goals of the plan include:

• Providing more mental health support services for student-athletes that attempt to meet them “where they are”;

• Placing in the top third of the conference and the nation in graduation rates and academic progress metrics;

• Enhancing “programming to assist student-athletes to successfully transition post-eligibility”;

• and ranking in the top 20 nationally in revenue among Collegiate Licensing Company schools.


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