Phoenix Coyotes exec Brad Treliving on Kansas AD list

From out of left field, or maybe from behind the blue line is a better way to put it, enters the mystery candidate in Kansas University’s search for a new athletic director.

He has no experience in college athletics, played a sport professionally that KU only offers on the club level and works for a professional franchise in that sport.

The search committee has spent time reviewing the candidacy of Brad Treliving, according to gossips interested in the outcome of the secretive quest for Lew Perkins’ replacement.

Treliving, 41, works as vice president of hockey operations for the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League.

It was as president of the Central Hockey League (Double-A level) for seven years that Treliving gained a reputation throughout the sport as a whiz-bang young administrator. Under his watch, the league steadily expanded and set attendance records, according to several hockey writers’ accounts.

Treliving’s Phoenix Coyotes bio reveals that he co-founded the Western Professional Hockey League in 1996 and served as its VP and director of hockey operations before spearheading a merger with the CHL in 2001.

As a player, he never reached the NHL, but came close.

A defenseman, Treliving played five seasons of professional hockey (1990-91 to 1994-95), advancing as high as the Triple-A level, where he spent more than his share of time in the penalty box, enhancing his reputation as an enforcer.

He’s a proven winner, yet without any background in college athletics, Treliving seems such a random candidate. On the surface, this native of Penticton, British Columbia, has no connection to KU. Where might the link originate?

Think stealth billionaire Philip Anschutz, a KU graduate and Denver resident whose net worth recently was estimated at $7 billion by Forbes Magazine.

Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) has a large ownership stake in the Los Angeles Kings and owns several athletic and concert venues throughout the country. Anschutz’s tentacles reach deep in hockey.

KU long has been a benefactor of the seemingly boundless Anschutz family largesse, beginning with Philip’s father, Fred Anschutz. In 1980, he gave $1.4 million for construction of the Anschutz Pavilion, a 40,000-square-foot, multi-purpose sports facility. Six years later, the family donated roughly 10 times that for construction of the Anschutz Science Library.

More recently, Philip Anschutz has aimed his philanthropy at the University of Colorado Hospital, to which he gifted more than $50 million to build the Outpatient Pavilion and the Cancer Pavilion.

Even if Treliving does have the backing of Anschutz, his candidacy seems like a long reach, unless of course Anschutz intends to become even more to KU what T. Boone Pickens is to Oklahoma State, in which case Treliving shapes up as the only man for the job.

Other gossip on the AD search has it that the new AD will be “strongly encouraged” to keep the current administrators in the athletic department in place for a minimum of 12 months. No wonder nobody seems nervous.