I spent nine years working for a state university,

and state hiring rules can be pretty ornate. A lot of times the jobs are union jobs, too, which adds another layer of bureaucracy.

It’s possible that the position was accepted and they didn’t have a good process to let them use the same search once a candidate accepted.

Another possibility is that there are often rules for the composition of the applicant pool. For example you may have to have a certain percentage minority, women, veteran candidates. This sort of thing is sometimes controlled by a small board or even a single administrator who can gunk up the works if they don’t like the outcome.

In our state, I’m know of one search where all the best qualified minority candidates withdrew (snatched up by places that could move faster, no doubt) and the search had to be started over. After the second search the hiring manager was given the choice of hiring a clearly unqualified minority candidate, or doing a *third* search for the same position. Each search took 2-3 months. He chose to hire the unqualified candidate, and did his best to train him, but the guy had to be fired later at great hassle and expense. Everybody lost.  I lucked out on my hire because my very clear first choice was Haitian-American. His paperwork *flew* through the system and I got all sorts of praise for hiring him. He was my first choice because he had the skills and experience and clearly wanted to work in a university environment. Plus he was an alumni and we knew him and *liked* him. I didn’t care what color he was, I just cared that he knew what colors the right cables were 🙂
Sigh, it was such a screwy system.

I’ll say though, that if you can stomach it, you might as well use the system in your favor. If you’re a minority or a veteran or have any sort of disability, and you’re applying for a job with a state or federal agency or a large non-profit like a university – make sure you put that information into your cover letter. It’s going to affect the hiring decision so you might as well put it up front. (and yeah, I know “minority” is not a great word to use, but it’s the one they will use)