Jen Cohen: “I think for the first time in a long time Husky fans know that this is a sustainable model” for the football program.
This month marks the one-year anniversary of Jennifer Cohen’s hiring as the Washington Huskies athletic director. Cohen sat down with The Seattle Times recently to discuss her first year on the job, the turnaround of the football program under Chris Petersen, the early stages of Mike Hopkins’ “Operation Stop The Bleeding” and more.
Note: Coming later this week, we’ll publish a breakdown of how UW’s athletic department went from a deficit of $7.6 million in 2016 to a break-even point this year.
Times: You’ve been the AD now for one year. What’s the most significant thing you have done as a department in the past year?
Cohen: There’s a couple things that stand out. First is just the general culture of our program and our department. We really made it a priority with our leadership team coming in — we have an almost entirely new leadership team here — was to go back to the basics. What’s the foundation of this place? What does this place stand for? How are we going to behave? What are our priorities, and how are we going to hold ourselves accountable to them? It might sound kind of silly, but that stuff’s really important. We feel like alignment is everything with what we do. With 22 teams, 250 employees, 10,000 donors and the campus community — we have to be aligned. So just that general feeling of, if you work here you know you’re here to serve students. That there’s behaviors we expect out of you and we’re going to hold you accountable to that. I’m really proud of that, and I’ve been lucky to be able to bring new people into the organization that demonstrate that. We’ve already hired five new coaches (women’s gymnastics coach Elise Ray; women’s rowing coach Yasmin Farooq; men’s golf coach Alan Murray; men’s basketball coach Mike Hopkins; and…