Bill Self, Turner Gill Welcome New Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger

Illinois State's Sheahon Zenger was introduced as the newest athletic director at Kansas.

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Bill Self, Turner Gill Welcome New Kansas Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger

The Kansas Jayhawks football and basketball coaches were on hand to hear the newest athletic director at Kansas get introduced for the first time. Sheahon Zenger, former Illinois State athletic director who has hired into the same position at Kansas, spoke with reporters for the first time since officially being introduced as the next athletic director at Kansas.

Both Bill Self and Turner Gill said he appeared to be the right man for the job.

"(He's) prepared, excited, energized. It's just going to be a matter of hours before I think the morale of this place has been improved," Self said.

"It was a great speech," Gill said. "More importantly, he's a solid person who I think is very much so the best man for us to move forward in this athletic department. I think our fans will enjoy him. I'm excited to have him be a part of it. You can obviously feel a sense of his coaching (experience). I know he's a very organized person. I've heard nothing but great things from people who know him and have worked with him. "

Zenger agreed that Self was the face of KU's athletic department and rightfully so with one of the best teams in the country. Gill probably has more to prove to Zenger moving forward as his team rebounds from a disappointing season. 


Kansas Hires Illinois State's Sheahon Zenger As Next Athletic Director

The Kansas Jayhawks have a new athletic director. Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little confirmed over the weekend that Sheahon Zenger will be the next athletic director at Kansas. 

"With his experience and leadership skills, Sheahon Zenger is the best choice to lead Kansas Athletics into the future. He is exactly who we need as athletics director, working to ensure that every Jayhawk team succeeds on the field and in the classroom, as well as making sure our programs operate with the utmost integrity," said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little in a statement.

If he were the best choice he would have been offered the job first but that's simply not accurate. A search committee originally targeted Bubba Cunningham before he decided to change his mind at the last minute and stay with Tulsa. So at best Zenger is the second choice.

But that's OK. he has a solid history in the area and was even a football coach at one point. Here's part of his resumebefore Illinois State, where he is athletic director.

Prior to joining ISU, Zenger was the associate athletics director for development at Kansas State from 2002-05. Before that, he spent two years as KSU's assistant athletics director for major gifts and also spent a year with the KSU College of Business as director of development.    

Kansas originally had middle of the spring semester as a target date to hire someone and thought they had Cunningham earlier this month when we was offered the job before he turned it down.


Kansas Chancellor Says Media Coverage Is Making AD Search More Difficult

Kansas' search for a new athletic director continues after the Jayhawks identified Bubba Cunningham as its target two weeks ago but he later backed out and agreed to a contract extension with Tulsa. At one point the committee hoped to have the search wrapped up by mid-December but the Cunningham situation may have delayed that.

Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little spoke briefly last week, according to the Lawrence Journal World, and said the media coverage isn't helping the search.

"The coverage is damaging to the search," she said, when it exposes candidates before they’re committed to the university. "I think it becomes costly for candidates to be involved. … I don’t think it’s helpful to our search and I think makes our search more difficult."

If you were ever wondering why schools spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on professional search firms, this is why. It's all about keeping things private and secret. Clearly, that's not the case here as multiple reports have come out with candidates and then the detailed accounts of the Cunningham experience.

If Gray-Little is looking to point the finger at anyone -- and apparently she is if she has public statements on it -- then it should go to the search committee, (reportedly) listed below:

Chaired by Ray Evans, the managing partner of Pegasus Capital Management in Overland Park; Kenneth Audus, dean of the KU School of Pharmacy; KU baseball coach Ritch Price; Linda Ellis Sims, an account executive with ExxonMobile Corporation; Debbie Van Saun, KU associate athletics director/senior women's administrator; and Thomas Ward, president and CEO of Russell Stover Candies in Kansas City.

If information is getting out, there are your sources. She said no candidate had backed out because they had been identified but it's happened to her in other searches.

Ultimately though I'm not sure I understand her comments and what they're supposed to mean. Is Gray-Little asking the media not to report on this? Is she making sure everyone knows how difficult this search is? Is she setting KU fans up to be disappointed (and indirectly blaming it on the media)? Is she indicating the search will now take longer? Blaming it on the media is like blaming it on the referees. Nothing good comes from it.


Bubba Cunningham Staying At Tulsa; Will Not Be Kansas' Next Athletic Director

There are surprises and then there's this.

Bubba Cunningham will remain at the University of Tulsa, agrees to new contract with school.

Cunningham was reported to be headed to Kansas to be their next athletic director but that's not happening. The move to Kansas was reported by multiple news outlets -- Sports By Brooks, Tulsa World, Lawrence Journal-World and Kansas City Star.

If I had to guess, Cunningham or Kansas officials, at one point, expected the move to Kansas to happen, and that's why the reports came out. On Wednesday, Sports By Brooks reported that Kansas and Cunningham were working out contract details. Perhaps something went wrong in those negotiations or perhaps Tulsa matched it.

What we do know is that Cunningham has now received a contract extension at Tulsa, Tulsa President Steadman Upham announced.

"Bubba and I have a great partnership," Upham said "and his service to TU has been marked by exceptional progress by our student-athletes, including 31 Conference USA championships. We're on a roll and I'm confident we'll continue to build on our remarkable momentum and national visibility."

It would appear that Cunningham used the Kansas reported offer as leverage to get a new deal from Tulsa.

Basically, Kansas may have just been worked over pretty bad.

Back to the drawing board for Kansas.


Bubba Cunningham, Kansas Reportedly Finalizing Contract As Next Athletic Director

The Kansas Jayhawks are close to getting their next athletic director.


Sports By Brooks, who first reported the news that Tulsa's Bubba Cunningham would be the next athletic director at Kansas, says the contract between the two sides is being finalized. 

Bubba and KU Chancellor finalizing contract this morning. It will happen regardless of when it's announced.

Since Brooks' original report, the Tulsa World, Lawrence Journal-World and Kansas City Star have reported Cunningham is the next athletic director at Kansas.

The reaction on sports talk radio here in Kansas City following the original reports of Cunningham to KU have been mixed. Some have said: "Who?" While others have said people in the know have good things to say about Cunningham.

We'll see how it works when KU finally announces the deal.


Bubba Cunningham Doesn't Confirm Or Deny He's Next Athletic Director At Kansas

Multiple reports have come in on the Bubba-Cunningham-to-Kansas story. The Tulsa athletic director was reported to be leaving for KU to become the Jayhawks next athletic director. The story was first reported by Sports By Brooks and later reported by the Tulsa World, Lawrence Journal World and Kansas City Star.

The Kansas City Star's J. Brady McCollough writes that Cunningham is the choice to replace Lew Perkins as Kansas' AD but a deal to hire him isn't quite complete yet. Brooks' original report stated that a deal had yet to be consummated but Kansas could announce the move as soon as Wednesday.

Cunningham appeared on Tulsa sports radio on Tuesday night said, for now, there was no change in his status.

Cunningham, speaking on sports talk radio station KTBZ-AM in Tulsa on Tuesday night, said he was "absolutely" still the athletic director at Tulsa.

"I do not talk about it until there’s a change in employment status, and there's not a change in employment status," Cunningham said.

Clearly he qualified his statement that he's "absolutely" the AD at Tulsa at this time. It sounds like Cunningham is headed to Kansas. Unless there's a serious misinformation campaign and reporters from Kansas City, Lawrence and Tulsa have been fooled, then you can expect Cunningham to be named AD at Kansas shortly.


Bubba Cunningham To Be Kansas' Next Athletic Director, Multiple Reports Say

On Tuesday afternoon Sports By Brooks reported that Tulsa's Bubba Cunningham would be the next athletic director at Kansas. Since then, both Kansas and Tulsa media outlets have reported the same.

Lawrence Journal World:

University of Tulsa athletic director Bubba Cunningham will be introduced as the new AD at the University of Kansas on Wednesday or Thursday, sources told the Tulsa World.

Tulsa World:

Sources indicated Tuesday that the search committee's top choice, Tulsa University athletic director Lawrence "Bubba" Cunningham, will be named the next Kansas University athletic director, succeeding Lew Perkins.

So it looks like it's going to be official. According to Brooks' report, Kansas could announce the move as soon as Wednesday.


Tulsa's Bubba Cunningham Will Reportedly Be Kansas' Next Athletic Director

We've been waiting to hear who the next athletic director will be at the University of Kansas. The answer: Tulsa's Bubba Cunningham. Sports By Brooks reports that a Big 12 athletic director tells him Cunningham is the choice and they are expected to announce the move as soon as Wednesday.

Cunningham, who I first identified as a candidate for the job on November 14, has spent five years as Tulsa Athetic Director after working for three years in a similar capacity at Ball State.

Before Ball State, Cunningham worked in the Notre Dame athletic department business office for 13 years after obtaining his undergraduate degree and MBA from ND. He also played on the Irish tennis team.

Kansas has been working to replace Lew Perkins who retired this fall. A search committee has said recently that they're getting closer and suggested a hire could be made as soon as the middle of December. Originally Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said it could take as long as the middle of the spring semester.

We now await word from Kansas on the report.


Kansas Athletic Director Hire Reportedly Coming In 'Next Week Or So'

The Kansas Jayhawks and athletic director Lew Perkins parted ways earlier this year and since then a search committee has been sifting through candidates to find the next AD of Kansas University. According to Sports By Brooks, that hire will be coming soon. The report states that the search committee is expected to conclude soon and a new hire will be made in the "next week or so."

The candidates?

That leaves current Tulsa Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham as the leading candidate for the job. I’ve also been told of two other candidates that Kansas now is targeting for the job: Illinois State Athletic Director Dr. Sheahon Zenger and Univ. of Central Florida Athletic Director Keith Tribble.

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart was believed to be a candidate at one point as well but no longer is.

The Kansas AD job is an attractive one and is reportedly focused on fixing the football program. Cunningham and Zenger both have strong football backgrounds.

Earlier this year Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little suggested the search could go into the middle of the spring semester but a rep on the search committee has since suggested it could be done before the end of December. It's looking like it will be the latter.


Rumor Mill Pointing To Colorado AD Mike Bohn As Candidate For Kansas AD Job

I didn't think we'd hear a whole lot of rumors about the next Kansas athletic director and I've been correct to an extent. There haven't been a whole lot of rumors since Lew Perkins announced his retirement effective immediately on Oct. 7.

The rumor making the rounds these days involves Colorado AD Mike Bohn. From what I can tell the first in-print mention of this possibility -- and it's simply speculation -- came from Kyle Ringo of the Boulder Daily Camera.

Bohn to Kansas was a hot topic of conversation in the Missouri and Kansas State press boxes during football games last weekend. It`s the rumor du jour and it`s beginning to sound a lot like those early rumors back in late 2004 that CU might be looking at a promising athletic director at San Diego State who had grown up in Boulder. The school hired Mike Bohn four months later.

That seems to make sense. The issue was brought up again when Kevin Haskins of the Topeka Capital-Journal wrote the following on Oct. 19:

Some who follow CU are fearful that athletic director Mike Bohn won't be moving on to the Pac-10 (or 12), but instead will land at Kansas as its new AD.

Interesting. The connection laid out by Ringo in the first story seems to make a lot of sense. There are definitely dots you can connect. Alas, we're likely a couple of months away from any sort of decision. Kansas has indicated that a new AD could be announced before the end of the year to the middle of the spring semester.


Kansas Jayhawks AD Search Moving Along With Many Interested Parties

The Kansas Jayhawks athletic director's search committee continues on. Lew Perkins abruptly left the University last month and since then a search committee has been established a time frame of the middle of the spring semester has been set.

Ray Evans, chairman of the AD search committee, talked with Tom Keegan of the Lawrence Journal World Wednesday night and said it's a delight to take part in the process because people are talking highly of Kansas in the process.

"I’m embarrassed to tell you how much fun it is," Evans said of the search. "Just when you think you have pared down your list, you hear from others. Just today, I talked to someone calling on behalf of two very impressive people. We’re glad to have that problem."

Evans indicated that it's possible the search is completed before the end of December.

Kansas should be a highly sought after job. The football facilities are new, the basketball program is elite and there's still room for growth. KU is still doing well despite the football program being down -- that's the sign of a good athletic program. And to think, if or once that football program gets going, they'll be even better.

This will be a very competitive search for the committee.


KU Chancellor Updating Board Of Regents On AD Search, Ticket Scandal

Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little will update the Kansas Board of Regents on a couple of important topics in the KU athletic department.

The subjects expected to be discussed include:

Ticket scandal: Two men charged in the ticket scandal have had their sentencing delayed as they help the prosecution with the case. It sounds like they're going to give them all the information they have on it.

AD search: Lew Perkins abruptly retired two weeks ago so Kansas is searching for a new AD. Gray-Little is expected to give the Board of Regents an update on that progress.

These are two of the biggest incidents Kansas has seen in quite some time so it's of utmost importance that they get it right.


KU Chancellor Says Many People Are Interested In Athletic Director's Job

Bernadette Gray-Little told school administrators on Friday that she's heard from plenty of people regarding the search for a new athletic director at Kansas.

It should be among the best the jobs in the country because of much of the leg work Perkins put in. The basketball team is elite and the football facilities are very solid. Plus the pay probably isn't bad.

“I haven’t heard from the Vatican or the White House,” she joked, per, “at least not yet.”

She's putting together a search committee of five or six folks to find the next AD. She hopes to have the new AD by the middle of the spring semester which would be about March.

So it sounds like it's a solid job -- that or Gray-Little is saying that publicly to draw more interest into the job. The more people that want the job the more school-friendly contract they can get.


Turner Gill Could Be One Most Affected By Lew Perkins' Retirement

Whenever there is a regime change in any organization, the folks already in-house get nervous.

For Bill Self, there's no reason to be nervous because his job is safer than anyone's in the country. For Turner Gill, things are a little different.

He was hired by Perkins and in his first game on campus embarrassingly lost 6-4 to North Dakota State.

The new AD will come in and he won't have any ties to Gill. He doesn't have a reputation at stake with Gill's success. If Gill simply isn't getting it done on the field, the new AD may not have a problem with making an early change and putting his stamp on the program.

A change at the head of the football program after just one year would bring with it plenty of problems, mainly recruiting, but it's very possible that happens.

For Gill, let's hope he starts winning. The new AD isn't tied to him and he'll have to provide results.


Report: Lew Perkins Was Forced Out At Kansas To Avoid Input On Next AD Hire

Many found it curious that Lew Perkins decided to retire a year before his scheduled retirement date. KU's release on the topic did indeed describe it as an early retirement.

Of course with Perkins we've learned that there's always more to the story.

A report from Sports By Brooks says that KU didn't want Perkins to have any input on the next athletic director that is hired.

I’m told Perkins was already promoting one of his KU athletic dept. cronies for his former post, but that university officials were extremely uncomfortable in having the scandal-addled Perkins associated with the future hire.

Brooks also points out that the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission was scheduled to soon review Perkins reported $15,000 personal loan of exercise equipment (which he says he later paid).

It makes a lot of sense on the surface. Over the last year plenty of reports have come out that paint the picture of Perkins running a dirty program at Kansas. He personally hasn't been implicated but several people under him have been. So KU doesn't want Perkins hands on the next hire because that could potentially bring back the same problems KU has now.

If this is the case it's an unfortunate end for Perkins. He did so much for Kansas but also cost them so much.


Lew Perkins Says Retirement Will 'Allow Me To Explore Other Professional Opportunities'

Lew Perkins surprisingly announced his retirement from Kansas University on Tuesday afternoon.

It's a little surprising he left early because he had previously said after his retirement he would continue to live in Lawrence. His plans to stay in the community were reflected in the statement he gave on his early retirement.

“I’ve enjoyed my seven years here at KU,” said Perkins. “What I’ve cherished more than anything is the opportunity to work with our coaches, student-athletes, staff, alumni, Williams Fund members and K-Club members.

“I am grateful that Chancellor Hemenway allowed Gwen and me to come to Lawrence to be part of the great university. We love this community; we consider it home. This decision will give us a chance to stay involved in the community in different ways. It will also allow me to explore other professional opportunities.”

What would those "other professional opportunities" be?

It's unclear if Perkins' retirement agreement with KU would keep him from accepting certain jobs in college athletics.


Kansas AD Lew Perkins Walks Away With $2 Million After Early Retirement

Lew Perkins was supposed to be paid up to his retirement date on Sept. 4, 2011.

He'll still be paid -- but he's not going to work until that date.

Here's part of KU's announcement on Perkins' retirement:

Perkins’ contract provides for a June 30, 2011, retention payment, which will be paid at this time. Therefore, the total amount entitled to Perkins following today’s announcement is approximately $2 million before taxes. This will be paid by Kansas Athletics; no taxpayer or tuition dollars will be used.

Not bad work if you can get it.

Though Perkins will be criticized upon his departure -- and rightfully so in some cases -- he leaves KU in good shape creating a bigger and bigger flow of money into the university every year. He was a public relations nightmare at times but when the facts are presented it's hard to argue he wasn't one of the better ADs in the country.


Lew Perkins Out As Kansas AD Effective Immediately

In a surprising move, Kansas Jayhawks officials announced on Tuesday that athletic director Lew Perkins would leave the university effective immediately.

KU is calling it his retirement.

Sean Lestern has been tabbed the interim AD.

There was no reason given as to why the move happened now.

Back in June, following a ticket scandal and allegations (later said to be false) that Perkins had borrowed exercise equipment in exchange for tickets, the Kansas AD announced he would be retiring on Sept. 4, 2011. Some people's ears perked when they learned Perkins would be receiving a $600,000 bonus about a month before his retirement date.

Perkins' has been under fire for a multitude of reasons lately including the ticket scandal, blackmail scandal, his flying habits and the Mark Mangino situation.

We'll be curious to find out the back story behind his departure.


Kansas AD Lew Perkins Due $600,000 Bonus One Month Before Retirement

Maybe it's a coincidence, or just the way things worked out, but Lew Perkins can't announce his retirement without a few questions attached to it.

The Kansas AD on Thursday announced his retirement effective Sept. 4, 2011. Revealed on Friday by Tully Corcoran of the Topeka Capital-Journal was Perkins is due a $600,000 bonus on August 1, 2011, just 35 days before his retirement.

Oh, and that bonus is after taxes. For all intents and purposes, a tax-free, $600,000 bonus one month before his retirement.

Interesting, no?

While on the surface it appears scandalous, there's one thing to keep in mind: Kansas agreed to this. They knew about the bonus and they agreed to the retirement day.

Perkins survived the Mark Mangino mess, the ticket scandal (so far) and was cleared of any wrongdoing in the blackmail case.

The way things have gone recently, maybe KU's finance department is banking on Perkins screwing up again -- next time, though, I suspect he won't be forgiven.


Turner Gill And Bill Self Address Lew Perkins's Retirement Announcement

J. Brady McCollough of the Kansas City Star has posted statements from Kansas’s head football coach, Turner Gill, and head basketball coach, Bill Self, in response to the announcement that Athletic Director Lew Perkins has decided to retire in September 2011.

"I am saddened and I love him," Gill said in a statement. "His leaving doesn’t affect the vision our staff has for our football program. We are here to build relationships with our fans, alumni and everyone associated with the university and to bring excellence to our football program."

Self told the Star that his Thursday afternoon meeting with Perkins started with Perkins entering his office and closing the door.

"Usually, when he walks in and shuts the door, that’s not a good sign for me," Self said. "I said, ‘Is it over?’ I was referring to what’s going on with the league, good news or bad news. He said, ‘I’m retiring.’ I said, ‘Come on.’ He went into it. He is in good spirits, from my perspective. I think he has a peace about it."

React along with them over at Rock Chalk Talk.


Lew Perkins's Big-Dollar Impact At Kansas

With news that Lew Perkins is set to retire, Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star surveyed the athletic director's significant financial impact upon the University of Kansas.

Perkins took over an athletic department with a $27 million budget. Kansas’ budget last year was $55 million, bolstered by record football attendance the last three seasons.

The school reported more than $80 million in annual revenue from such sources as donations, apparel, conference revenue and broadcast royalties for the year ending in 2009.

The increased revenue has helped Kansas bolster its facilities. New construction included the $31 million Anderson Family Football Complex, the Booth Family Hall of Athletics and several renovations to Allen Fieldhouse.

For everything Jayhawks head over to Rock Chalk Talk.


Kansas AD Lew Perkins Releases Statement On Retirement

Soon-to-be former Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins released a statement along with the official announcement that he was retiring effective September 4, 2011.

"I have loved my time here at the University of Kansas and I will continue leading Kansas Athletics over the course of the next year.

"At this time, my greatest priority is working on conference alignment issues, and as I've committed to the Chancellor, I will work tirelessly on these efforts. Conference alignment is the biggest challenge we have before us as an athletics department and an institution.

"I am very proud of the academic and athletic success of our student-athletes during my time at KU and I will forever treasure the friendships and experiences being a Jayhawk has brought.

"Our supporters are among the best across the nation and I could not be more pleased with how much we have accomplished together.

"Gwen and I are proud to call Lawrence home. We've talked over the past couple years about retirement, and with my 65th birthday this year, this is the right decision for us.

"After more than 40+ years in the athletics business I look forward to retiring next year, spending time with my wife, our children and grandchildren, as well as finding a little more time on the golf course.

"However, my work here is not done. Chancellor Gray-Little has my support as she chooses a new Athletics Director, and my commitment to make the transition as seamless as possible. We have a lot of work to do over the course of the next year and I am honored to do it."

Read more reaction at Rock Chalk Talk.


Kansas Confirms: Lew Perkins Last Day Is September 4, 2011

Kansas just issued a press release concerning the news broken by that Lew Perkins will "retire" effective the end of the 2010-2011 school year.

The official last day will be September 4, 2011, which is right around the time school starts.

For more, stay tuned to SB Nation's Rock Chalk Talk.


Report: Kansas Athletic Director Lew Perkins Resigning At The End Of The 2010-2011 School Year

I knew this was a possibility. We all knew it was a possibility but it's still surprising.

With the end of the Big-12 rapidly approaching, we receive word that Lew Perkins is resigning at the end of the year.


Kansas Athletic Director Lew Perkins is set to resign from Kansas University effective with the end of the 2010-2011 school years, sources have told the Lawrence Journal-World and

The embattled athletic director has plenty of reasons to re-sign, including:

  • Mark Mangino situation
  • Ticket scandal
  • Blackmail case (Perkins was later cleared of any wrongdoing)

We'll have much more on this as it develops. Stay tuned to SB Nation's Rock Chalk Talk.

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