Jeff Konya, whose marketing acumen played a major role in putting mid-major Oakland University on the national map, is leaving his athletic director post for the same position at Northeastern University.
A source close to Konya confirmed the move to The Detroit News on Tuesday night, on condition of anonymity because Northeastern hasn’t yet announced the hire. Oakland University confirmed the move in a news release Wednesday morning.
“Since I came to Oakland more than three years ago, I’ve enjoyed seeing the progress we’ve made in the classroom, on the field and in the community,” Konya said in the news release. “It’s been an honor to share in the success of our student-athletes and continued development of our athletic program. I’ll never forget the passion of our Golden Grizzly fans and community partners.”
At Northeastern, a private Division I university in Boston, Konya is replacing Peter Roby, who announced last year his intention to retire in June 2018. Roby is expected to retire sooner, and Konya is expected to start in the next several weeks, according to the source.
Konya came to Oakland, in Rochester, in 2014, after spending five years as athletic director at Cal State-Bakersfield.
At Oakland, he oversaw several marketing and fundraising campaigns that helped enhance the school’s reputation, among them the installation of the innovate black-top court at the O’Rena.
Known for thinking outside the box, Konya also hired co-head baseball coaches — a first in Division I — and is pursuing the addition of men’s and women’s hockey at Oakland, with the help of an NHL-funded feasibility study that’s expected to be finished this month.
“Jeff has been a tireless leader and advocate on behalf of our university, its student-athletes, alumni and Golden Grizzlies,” Oakland President Ora H. Pescovitz said in the release. “He’s worked with OU leaders and community partners to strengthen our commitment to student success academically and athletically. His contributions have positioned us for continued success, and we wish him much good fortune as he starts a new chapter in his career.”
He also created the Black & Gold Awards, an Oscars-style ceremony for Oakland athletics held at the Fox Theatre, and televised, every spring.
Fundraising, corporate sponsorships and ticket sales have risen dramatically under Konya, and he was the brains behind Oakland’s popular “Wear The Bear” marketing slogan.
Konya, 44, earned $210,000 at Oakland under a five-year extension he signed last June. He is expected to receive a significant raise at Northeastern, which has 16 sports teams and is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association.
At Cal-State Bakersfield, he oversaw the athletic department’s transition into the Western Athletic Conference, and set program records for scholarship fundraising and overall fundraising.
With a bachelor’s degree from Princeton and a juris doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law, Konya also has worked in athletic departments at SMU, Memphis, Bucknell and UTSA.
A Royal Oak native, he grew up in West Bloomfield an avid Detroit sports fan.
Last spring, Konya was a finalist for the Eastern Michigan AD job that went to Scott Wetherbee.
This is the second significant departure from Oakland’s athletic department in recent weeks. Longtime sports-information director Scott MacDonald left and has taken a similar job with the United Shore Professional Baseball League in Utica.