New KU AD Jeff Long willing to let people in via social media
It’s now been four days since Jeff Long was announced as the next athletic director at the University of Kansas and we’re just two days away from Long’s official introduction.
But in the time between then and now, Long has slowly but surely made the transition to being KU’s new athletic director.
While it’s not exactly clear what moves he has made to fully prepare for his new job behind closed doors, Long’s social media presence has provided a peek at just how excited he is for his new opportunity.
After first announcing his big news on Twitter just minutes after KU made the hire official with its news release, Long posted a handful of KU-related Tweets in the days that followed that showed that he was already all in as a member of the Jayhawk family.
All of this after quickly changing his Twitter handle to reflect his new role — @jefflongKU — and adding a giant crimson and blue Jayhawk as his header photo.
I’m not saying that any of this should come as a surprise. It makes sense for anyone in Long’s position to be thrilled about the new opportunity — both in terms of the professional challenges it presents and the monetary gains that come with it — and to be eager and excited to share it with those close to them.
But Long has taken it one step farther. And, in doing so, he has proven that he has both feet firmly planted in the modern world, where social media and the Internet are a big part of everyday reality — like it or not — and can be viewed and used as tools to promote yourself and your vision as much as they are a place for people to spit out their opinions and waste a bunch of time.
That’s not to say Long is ever going to hop on Twitter to announce a personnel move or discuss the KU athletic department’s budget. But having a consistent presence and letting people in will go a long way toward bringing a new culture to Kansas Athletics.
This whole concept is not something new for Long, who takes over at KU at age 58. He also was pretty active on Twitter during his time as the AD at Arkansas, posting his own thoughts and comments, ReTweeting pertinent information and even sharing videos of his support of the Razorbacks’ athletic programs from time to time.
That kind of approach will be welcomed at KU and should play at least a small role in helping Long connect with the people he will need to help him along the way.
One of the things I really like about what I've seen so far from Long on Twitter is that he chimes in on topics outside of KU and college athletics, as well, with posts about Seinfeld, The World Cup and even support for former Arkansas athletic programs — the school that fired him — coming in the past couple of weeks.
Traditionally speaking, at colleges and universities across the country, the bond between an athletic director and the average fan has not always been that strong. There are just too many fans and the worlds they walk in rarely overlap.
But if one Tweet or fun video here and there can bridge the gap and bring the two sides closer together, it’s hard to see that being anything but good news.
Long and his 125,548 Twitter followers get that. In a world where people are hired to run social media accounts for men and women in Long's position, it's clear that the new KU AD sees the value in running the account himself. And it should be interesting to see how well that approach serves him at Kansas and how many more Twitter followers he picks up along the way.
With that in mind, here’s a quick look at Long’s Tweets, in order, from the days since he was hired by KU.