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Shadyside native Matsakis promoted in Kansas athletics

September 8, 2012
By SETH STASKEY - Times Leader Sports Editor ( , Times Leader

George Matsakis just continues to climb the collegiate sports ladder.

The 1988 Shadyside High School graduate was promoted to the job of Assistant to the Athletics Director at the Kansas University as of Sept. 1.

Prior to his new assignment, Matsakis has served as the Jayhawks' Director of Football Operations for the past 11 years despite three coaching changes in his tenure.

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Matsakis' new role will keep him involved with football, but he'll take on a much bigger role in dealing with sports such as men's and women's basketball as well as baseball.

"Actually, I'll be involved with all of the other sports in some facet or another," Matsakis said via the phone Friday morning. "I'll still be dealing with football, but just not on the day-to-day basis like the past 11 years."

Kansas Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger was hired two years and Matsakis had an inkling that a new job could be forthcoming because of a prior relationship the two had.

When Zenger fired football coach Turner Gill and hired former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weiss for the position, he wanted Matsakis to stay on help ease the transition. That's what led to the delay in the formal announcement of Matsakis' new position.

Matsakis will aid Senior Associate Athletic Director Sean Lester, helping to relieve some of the many duties he faces on a day-to-day basis.

"I'll be dealing with budgets and bigger issues," Matsakis said. "In football operations, I dealt with the coaches and the sport every day, but this is more of a big issue and major importance. I'll be doing the same thing for basketball."

While the job is still obviously high demanding, Matsakis has seen a break in his hours, allowing him to spend more time with his wife and daughter.

"I love the job so far," Matsakis said. "There's still a lot of work, but not as much day-to-day with the same sport."

During his career with the Jayhawks, Matsakis has seen three new football coaches and four athletic directors.

"Usually, the football coaches bring in their own people," Matsakis said. "I am fortunate that I made it through that many changes. I've been here 11 years and just love living in Lawrence. It's hard to believe that I've spent more of my life living in the state of Kansas than I have in Shadyside."

This experience could eventually lead Matsakis to being an athletic director at a college down the road.

"If that's the path I choose this will certainly help," Matsakis said. "Being involved with all of the sports and different aspects is big if you hope to be an athletic director. We love it here so much, it would have to be a a really special opportunity to leave Kansas. It's

Along with serving as director of football operations at Kansas, Matsakis has held the same post at Houston and Wyoming. He's been on staff at Kansas State

George's youngest brother Elias is currently the special teams coordinator at Youngstown State. His oldest brother, Manny, is a high school head coach in North Carolina.

However, the actual coaching

"I've really never been an actual on-field coach," Matsakis said. "I've never really wanted to go out and blow the whistle. I really enjoy the behind-the-scenes stuff."

When it comes to the Big 12, Matsakis admits there were certainly some nervous times as the league's future was clearly in doubt after Nebraska, Missouri and Texas A&M all bolted for other opportunities. However, with the additions of West Virginia, TCU and the recently announced 13-year television deal with ABC, ESPN and Fox, which pays each institution some $20 million annually, the Big 12 is here for the long haul.

"We're as solid as any conference in the nation," Matsakis said. "Obviously, these moves are driven by football and television. We've got a true conference champion because it's round robbin format and I just think we're extremely stable."

Speaking of WVU, Matsakis is looking forward to the Jayhawks trip to Morgantown on Dec. 1 for football. He's expected a large delegation of friends and family from the Ohio Valley to make the trip.

Staskey can be reached at



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