Saturday, August 11, 2001

New AD Bohl accepts challenge

Former Fresno State administrator eager to direct Jayhawks


In late June, Kansas University chancellor Robert Hemenway introduced 53-year-old Al Bohl as the school's 13th athletics director.

Bohl, AD at Fresno State the last five years, was to take over for Bob Frederick officially on Aug. 1. Frederick's 14-year tenure ended June 30. Frederick will teach in the KU School of Education.

At Fresno State and during a nine-year stint as athletics director at the University of Toledo, Bohl oversaw football resurgence at both schools and built a reputation as a strong fund-raiser.

Both skills should come in handy at KU, where the football team hasn't been to a postseason bowl game since 1995 and where financial difficulties this past year forced the athletics department to cut men's swimming and men's tennis.

"We're starting a new and exciting era for KU athletics," Hemenway said.

Bohl earned the nod over three other finalists athletics directors Mike Hamrick of East Carolina, Doug Woolard of St. Louis and senior associate AD Kathleen DeBoer of Kentucky who interviewed on campus with a 16-member search committee and with Hemenway a day before Bohl's hiring was announced.

"I felt his vision and my vision and most peoples' vision about KU athletics were congruent," said Hemenway, who said Bohl had agreed on a base salary of $255,000 annually, a dramatic raise from Frederick's $166,000 salary.

Specifically, those visions entail better performance nearly across the board KU, despite the sixth largest budget in the Big 12, ranks last or next-to-last in the league all-sports standings and increased revenues while maintaining or improving Kansas' academic performance.

"Our athletics department isn't just about winning games," Bohl said. "We want to win games. But athletics is just one major component of the university."

A native of Vermilion, Ohio, and graduate of Bowling Green, Bohl earned his masters in education at Southern Mississippi and his Ph.D. in physical education administration at Ohio State.

At OSU, Bohl worked his way up to assistant AD before he became Toledo's athletics director in 1987. At Toledo, Bohl oversaw record-breaking fund drives and season-ticket campaigns.

He went to Fresno State in 1996 and inherited an athletics budget around $12 million, he said. He'll leave behind a budget that has increased to $18 million $4 million short of Kansas'.

"Just because you have more dollars doesn't necessarily mean you have the better team," Bohl said. "Fresno State is funded less than KU, but we managed to win a national championship."

After having missed out on postseason football since 1993, Fresno State has been to two bowl games in the past two years, and FSU sold out all but one home football game last season.

Fresno State won the NCAA softball title in 1998, FSU under controversial coach Jerry Tarkanian, who was hired to his alma mater a year before Bohl's arrival has been to two straight NCAA men's basketball tournaments and Bohl boasted of five or six teams regularly ranked among the top 25 in the nation.

"Football and basketball are so visible," Bohl said. "But I'm not athletics director for football and basketball. I'm athletics director for all sports. I'm really going to focus on making sure we raise money, but I'm not going to neglect the other business of the athletics department."

Bohl had been a candidate for at least three other athletic director jobs in the past year Iowa State, California and Minnesota.

He said Kansas was a perfect fit and vowed to paint the state crimson and blue.

"This won't just be in Lawrence," Bohl said. "I believe KU represents this whole state."

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