Less than a decade ago, Josh Looney spent his summers pushing twin beds together for Chiefs players at the Scanlon Hall dormitory during training camp at Missouri Western.
On Tuesday afternoon, Looney returned to Missouri Western as the university’s eighth athletic director.
“It feels great to be back in this community,” said Looney, a product of Blue Valley Northwest High School who earned his undergraduate degree in business administration from Washburn and masters in business administration from UMKC. “What a special moment. The opportunity to be a part of this family at Missouri Western is special.”
Looney’s journey to becoming an athletic director was nontraditional. After working public-relations stints with the Orlando Magic (2005-06) and the Chiefs (2006-12), he stepped away to become an associate director of NCAA Division II sports. Looney worked as the athletic director at East Stroudsburg in Pennsylvania for 18 months before accepting the Missouri Western job.
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Missouri Western conducted a search that produced 52 applicants, more than a dozen of whom were ‘overly qualified’ candidates, according to school president Robert Vartabedian. Looney succeeds Kurt McGuffin, who in June was hired by University of Tennessee-Martin.
Looney realizes he has plenty of work on the table. The Chiefs are entering the final year of their training camp agreement with Missouri Western and have mutual-option years for 2018 and 2019 remaining. Chiefs president Mark Donovan said last week the team intends to come back to St. Joseph next year.
Looney said he has a positive working relationship with Donovan, but the two have yet to discuss future plans between the Chiefs and Missouri Western.
“I was very encouraged to see some of the comments he had last week in The Star about the future of camp,” Looney said. “I’m excited to engage him and learn about what’s changed here since I was here last. I value what this is for this region, this campus and this community.”
He said he’s looking forward to discussing the future of training camp in St. Joseph.
“I have the historical knowledge about how important the decision was to move training camp from Wisconsin to Missouri,” Looney said. “I’ve been able to see the impact it’s had on this community, this campus and Chiefs fans. It’s an openness and friendly type of accessibility this camp bring.”