He may not be quite as excited as he was in the photo to the right — that’s a shot of the celebtration after UW rallied from a 23-3 deficit to win at Cal 24-23 in 1993 — but Damon Huard said today he is thrilled with his new role with the Washington athletic department.
Huard, a QB at UW from 1991-95, will work in acquiring major gifts for the athletic department.
“It’s time to come home,” said Huard, who played in the NFL for 12 years. “It’s just exciting that this opportunity presented itself and I can get back to my roots.”
Huard was on the roster for the 49ers last summer but cut before the season began. He never officially announced his retirement, but having turned 36, said it became obvious his career was over.
“If you don’t retire, the game retires you,” he said. “The 49ers didn’t work out, they went with a younger guy. That’s kind of what happens and you move on.”
The seeds for his new job were planted a couple years ago when Huard was still with Kansas City and attended a basketball tournament the Huskies were playing in. He talked with UW athletic director Scott Woodward about his interest in returning to the school someday in some capacity and mentioned that he had held a role with Football Northwest, Paul Allen’s group that eventually helped get a funding plan passed to build Qwest Field. Huard worked with that group his first year out of UW when he was not on an NFL roster.
“That’s kind of where it started,” he said. He officially begins his new job May 3.
He bought a house in Bellevue in 2004 and said he knew then he wanted his post-football life to be in Seattle.
A significant part of his job will involve helping to raise funds for a renovation of Husky Stadium, though he said he will also work on bringing in major gifts for scholarships and endowments and other such items, as well.
Efforts to get public money the past two years have failed. Woodward told the Times a few weeks ago that the Husky Stadium Advisory Committee will meet soon to formulate a plan going forward. Huard said that “it’s kind of back to the drawinng boards.”
Huard said his role will become a little more clear once that plan is set.
“Initially, that will be a big part of it (his role), the stadium,” he said.
Huard said he knows the job won’t be easy — the project is likely to be in the $250-270 million range, the committee possibly setting a more exact price tag when it meets.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” he said. “We’re going to have to be creative.”
But Huard said an emphasis of the campaign will be to note the importance of Husky Stadium to the university and community beyond just the six Saturdays a year that it is full for football games. Specifically, that the football program helps pay for much of the rest of the athletic department, and that Husky Stadium is a community landmark.
“There are a whole lot of neat things that can be done to Husky Stadium to make the experience that much better,” he said.
Then he lobbed the kind of shot sure to stoke the fires of Husky nation.
“We can’t let the Ducks have the best facilities in the Pac-10,” he said., “You kidding me?”