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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Sources: Washington to hire Wash. St. AD Chun

The University of Washington is finalizing a six-year deal to hire Pat Chun, the athletic director at rival Washington State, as the school’s new athletic director, sources told ESPN on Tuesday.

The hiring of Chun, who brings both a familiar face and strong Big Ten ties, marks a swift response to the sudden departure last week of Troy Dannen to become Nebraska’s athletic director after only six months on the job at Washington.

Chun has led Washington State since January 2018, and his duties there included being selected to serve on the College Football Playoff committee and helping manage the university’s future in the aftermath of mass departures from the Pac-12.

His experience in the Big Ten proved appealing to the Washington brass, with the university entering the conference for the 2024-25 school year. Chun’s expected hire marks the rare occasion of the hiring of a rival school’s athletic director, although the extenuating circumstances of the Pac-12’s recent flurry of departures make this move less jarring.

Chun worked for 15 years at Ohio State, where his responsibilities included everything from managing all facets of external relations to serving as the administrative liaison with the football program. That time gave him a window into the ways of the Big Ten, as he spent significant time in both fundraising and football, which will be two linchpins of his tenure in Seattle.

His ability to lead an athletic department during financial challenges was valued, as Washington faces significant stadium debt. The school also must find ways to be competitive in the Big Ten while only receiving half of the television revenue — along with Oregon — of its peers through 2029-30.

Chun’s time at Washington State included the successful hire of men’s basketball coach Kyle Smith, who left this week for the head-coaching job at Stanford after leading the Cougars to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008. That job is currently open.

Chun also hired Kamie Ethridge as women’s basketball coach, and she led WSU to the Pac-12 tournament title in 2023 and three straight NCAA tournament bids — both firsts in school history.

Chun’s tenure included promoting Jake Dickert from assistant coach to head football coach, a move that’s resulted in two bowl appearances — one as an interim — and a 15-16 overall record that includes two wins over Wisconsin.

When Chun was hired at Washington State, he became the first Asian American athletic director to lead a Power 5 school. Chun came to Washington State from Florida Atlantic, where his tenure included the hiring of Lane Kiffin as football coach.

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