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Troy Dannen named Nebraska Director of Athletics

Note: A press conference to formally introduce Dannen to the media and Nebraskans will be scheduled early next week.

University of Nebraska Interim President Chris Kabourek announced today that he has named Troy Dannen, a leading voice in collegiate athletics with extensive experience as an athletic director and deep ties to the Midwest and Big Ten, as Nebraska’s next AD, effective Friday.

Dannen currently serves as Director of Athletics at the University of Washington, a fellow Big Ten institution. Previously, he was AD at Tulane, and before that led athletics at his alma mater, the University of Northern Iowa. Dannen brings Midwestern roots, having grown up on a farm just outside Marshalltown, Iowa.

“From my first conversation with Troy Dannen, I knew he was a perfect fit for Nebraska,” Kabourek said. “He is a fierce competitor, he holds himself and his programs to uncommonly high standards, and he cares personally about the success of student-athletes in sports, school and life. Troy sees the vision and momentum we have here at Nebraska, from our bold investments in facilities to our record success in the classroom to our bold plan to elevate our national reputation and competitiveness, and he is excited to be a part of it. I am thrilled that we’ve found someone who is 100% aligned with our high expectations and will be all-in on Nebraska.

“Husker Nation, we’ve found a winner in Troy Dannen. I can’t wait to welcome him and his family to Nebraska.”

Dannen said: “Joining the Nebraska family is truly an honor. My family and I are humbled by the opportunity to be part of such a proud athletics program, institution, community and state. Growing up in Iowa, I watched a lot of Nebraska football on Saturdays with my family. I’ve spent a lot of time in the state and I’ve found that we share a similar approach to life, work and sports: Work hard, stay humble, compete and expect to win.

“There is a storied tradition at Nebraska, but more work to be done. I truly believe our best years are ahead of us. I couldn’t be more grateful to Interim President Chris Kabourek for this opportunity. Chris has championed an inspiring vision for excellence across the University of Nebraska and he and I are completely aligned on where Nebraska needs to go in the future. I look forward to doing my part to helping Nebraska win championships across the board, graduate our student-athletes and elevate the world-class reputation of the University of Nebraska. I can’t wait to arrive in Nebraska and get to work.”

Head Football Coach Matt Rhule said: “I’m so fired up about this hire. Interim President Kabourek has found exactly the right person to lead the Huskers forward. Troy sees what we see – that Nebraska is a special place, with special people, a great vision and the courage to be unabashed about wanting to win across the board. The fact that someone of Troy’s caliber wants to join Team Nebraska will light a fire across our entire department. Let’s go!”

Dannen has been at Washington since 2023. He’s also in his fourth year as chair of the NCAA Football Competition Committee and as an Executive Committee member of the Football Oversight Committee.

From 2021 through 2023, Dannen served on the NCAA Constitution Committee and then the Division I Transformation Committee, as one of a small group of chancellors, presidents, directors of athletics, commissioners and Faculty Athletic Representatives across all three NCAA divisions tasked with charting a future path for college athletics. In 2022, Dannen was a finalist for Sports Business Journal’s Athletic Director of the Year award, and he received the Distinguished American Award by the Sugar Bowl Chapter of the National Football Foundation.

He arrived at Washington after serving as Director of Athletics at Tulane University since 2015. While at Tulane, Green Wave student-athletes earned 49 All-American honors, won a national championship, 21 conference championships and earned 41 postseason appearances.

In 2022-23, Tulane football won their first American Athletic Conference football championship, and won the Cotton Bowl over USC, ranked 9th in the nation at that time. Men’s basketball won 20 regular season games for the first time in two decades. Men’s tennis advanced to its sixth NCAA tournament in seven years, both bowling and beach volleyball finished ranked in the Top 20, and baseball won the conference championship.

Tulane’s football program participated in an unprecedented three consecutive bowl games from 2018-20, winning back-to-back bowl games for the first time in 128 years of football at the University.

In the classroom, Tulane student-athletes excelled at a high-level. At the end of the 2022-2023 academic year, over 68% of Green Wave student-athletes earned a 3.0 GPA or better, with a 93% Graduation Success Rate and a record-setting department Academic Progress Report of 992, with seven teams earning a perfect 1000 APR score.

Dannen spearheaded fundraising efforts and numerous capital projects at Tulane. He helped secure the largest unrestricted gift in Tulane Athletics history, an endowment gift which funds the operation of a new sport (sailing), and a $10 million lead gift for capital renovations, which is the second largest gift in department history. In addition, marketing and licensing revenue grew four-fold, and in 2022-23, Tulane football, basketball and volleyball set ticket sales and revenue records. Under Dannen’s leadership, the Green Wave Club Annual Fund grew by 40% in terms of donors, and 45% in terms of dollars.

Increases in fundraising and major gift donors positively impacted capital project development and completion. A $13 million renovation to the Reilly Natatorium, home of the swimming and diving program, as well as $8 million in renovations to locker rooms and the Wilson Center sports medicine center were completed in 2023. Dannen also oversaw construction of a new dining facility, weight room, basketball and volleyball locker rooms. Tulane also completed a $2.4 million academic center renovation and a $5 million television and digital production center.

Dannen came to Tulane after serving eight years as the Director of Athletics at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) from 2008-15. During his tenure, the Panthers enjoyed success at both the conference and national levels, as UNI was recognized with 39 All-Americans, 13 Coaches of the Year and nine Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Players of the Year. UNI football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, volleyball and softball combined to reach 15 NCAA tournaments and 20 postseason berths during that stretch. For his efforts, Dannen was recognized as NACDA’s FCS Athletic Director of the Year in 2014

Prior to his time at UNI, Dannen served as the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union’s Executive Director for seven years.

Dannen graduated from UNI in 1989 with a degree in communications. He is married to Amy, and together they have four children: Elle, Emily, Holly and William.