It didn’t take long for newly named KU soccer coach Nate Lie to realize he wanted the Kansas coaching job.
The realization hit Lie during his first Zoom meeting with KU Athletics officials.
“The first Zoom was a bit of an inflection point,” Lie said at his introductory press conference on Wednesday. “You never know how serious someone is about you.”
Lie learned quickly that KU was interested. He said the questions from the search committee were “more meaningful and less generic” than he was used to.
“I think Travis’ (Goff, KU athletic director) vision just popped through the screen, that I considered him in one call to be a transformational leader,” Lie continued. “I think I spent maybe an hour and a half on that Zoom; I think the average one usually goes 30, 45 minutes.
“They sat and listened to all the questions I had, which was important. I think that made me sit a little straighter and think a little longer about what this opportunity might be.
Lie didn’t visit KU’s campus until Friday. He told The Star he officially signed his five-year contract with Kansas on Saturday.
“The thing that gave us enough confidence to make this decision as a family is how certain I felt this was the right fit,” Lie said. “It just felt different.”
KU Athletics officials, meanwhile, were impressed by Lie’s vision of the future of Kansas soccer. KU was seeking, Goff said, a candidate with “the ability to consistently articulate a vision and to demonstrate a plan.”
“Certainly someone who could bring to life their unique interest in the University of Kansas, and Nate from the first interaction all the way to the finish line was that in this pool,” Goff continued. “It was a remarkable pool. I think there was this steady confidence that we were all developing throughout.”
Lie was the head coach for Xavier for seven seasons and led the Musketeers to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments. He had a record of 82-37-19 (.663) at Xavier.
He follows in the footsteps of longtime KU coach Mark Francis, who coached Kansas for 25 seasons and retired in October.
Lie said he plans to talk to Francis about the program.
For now, he’s focused on improving a Kansas soccer team that hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2019. He’s got his sights set high. Like Goff, Lie says he’s committed to bringing a championship back to Lawrence.
“One of the reasons that I’m here today is I didn’t know exactly how much further we could take that at Xavier soccer,” Lie said. “ I firmly believe that that is attainable here.”