When Travis Goff decided to go into the business involving the background of college athletics, two things the University of Kansas graduate didn't expect was to change his clothes to purple and work for a team nicknamed the Wildcats.
That is what the former Dodge City High alumnus has found himself. Luckily for him, the team isn't 80 miles way from his alma mater; but in suburban Chicago, the home of Northwestern University of the Big 10 Conference.
"That was a little bit difficult," Goff joked about the irony of Northwestern to Jayhawk-rival Kansas State University. "From a guy who lived in Dodge City and grew up a Jayhawk fan and went to KU, it was a little bit tricky to start wearing purple for a team called the Wildcats. Now purple is my favorite color and I love Wildcats. It's funny how it all works out."
Goff is deputy director of athletics for development, in which he is working on raising money for the program like he did previously as associate athletic director/senior director of development at Tulane University. He felt one reason why Northwestern decided to hire him was his duties with the Green Wave program at a private school was a perfect fit for what the Wildcats were looking for in their new athletic position.
"At Tulane, I had the whole fundraising operation as my primary focus, but I also had marketing and ticket sales," Goff said. "This one is more focused on the fundraising and development side. It's a new position they created because (Northwestern) is about to go undergo a huge new multiple-billion dollar campaign for the entire university and athletics is going to be a big part of it. There could be more than $300 million of athletics initiatives.
"I learned at Tulane that this business is all about relationship building. If you build and establish meaningful relationships with people, then there is going to be a positive return there in multiple facets. I am an athletic fundraiser, but I have to interact with university employees with other fundraisers; so I can't alienate the law school or the med school or the engineering program because I have to work with those people."
Goff said the campaign includes a $220 million athletic facility project that will be on the shores of Lake Michigan with the new home of Wildcat athletics around the facility.Competition areas will stay where they are, but everything else involving preparing for athletic events like training, strength and conditioning, academic and athletic support and practice facilities. It will also be used as a recreational area for all Northwestern students.
"It's going to be a unique deal and critical for us for the whole student athlete experience aspect," Goff said. "All of their training and academic experience will be at one place instead of having to back and forth from the main campus to the athletic campus.
Page 2 of 2 - "One of the biggest aspects is recruiting. This is going to be a huge recruiting advantage because we're competing against Stanford, Michigan, Duke, et cetera. This will have an impact on the general student body, as well."
Goff said the sport most likely to be benefitted with the new facility would be the football program with an upgrade and improvement with new indoor and outdoor practice fields. He said fundraising will have to start strong before the thought of breaking ground on new facilities start.
The one regret Goff had about moving changing jobs is that he won't be involved in the final product of Tulane's $70 million athletic improvement project entitled "Home Field Advantage" with its purpose to build a new on-campus football stadium.
"Those experiences at Tulane were critical for me getting this job (with Northwestern)," Goff said. "I did a lot of the same things down there that I will do at Northwestern. It is bittersweet because "Home Field" was a fun project to be involved with and I was working hard on that program.
"Part of me was thinking I would stay there and see the new facility open; but this opportunity at Northwestern was one in a million. It was a perfect fit in every way: the job, the title, the timing of it. More than anything, I really love the Northwestern concept and I feel it is positioned, when you think about academics plus big-time athletics, in the Midwest is the best combination as any place out there."