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Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Mangino eager to get to work

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The athletic director who hired Mark Mangino was fired in April.

His new boss axed Wichita State's football program in 1986, but more recently he worked to elevate Connecticut's football program to Division I-A status.

"I'm hoping for the latter," Mangino quipped Tuesday after former WSU and UConn athletic director Lew Perkins was introduced as the successor to Al Bohl at Kansas University.

Perkins won't be lowering the boom on Mangino's program.

"They're hard decisions, but it was the right decision at Wichita State," said Perkins, who was WSU's athletic director from 1983 to 1987. "I might be the only person in the history of college athletics that has dropped football and has taken a football program to I-A. It's not me personally or philosophically, it's what the institution (needs), the goals of the institution.

"Personally it was very hard on me. It was a very difficult time and something that I'm not very proud of, but it was something that had to be done."

Perkins, who had been AD at UConn since 1990, spearheaded an effort to build a $90 million football stadium that will open this fall. The 58-year-old thought strengthening the Huskies' football program would bolster Connecticut's overall athletic program.

He'll take a similar approach at Kansas, which hasn't had a winning football season since 1995.

"Football at Kansas is going to be extremely important, but not at the expense of obviously men's basketball, women's basketball," Perkins said. "There's no reason why we can't have a total athletic program. One of the jobs that I have is to help educate the people of Kansas and the alums that football is very important. You run out of revenue sources after a while. When you can't sell any more basketball tickets, you have to look for other revenue sources and football is obviously a place where we could generate a lot more revenue.

"One of the things people need convincing of is that a true Jayhawk fan will do anything for the university. They have to understand that we have to be very, very supportive of football and all the other sports. You just can't pick one sport and tell me you're a supporter."

KU's second-year football coach was encouraged after meeting Monday and Tuesday with Perkins and listening to the AD's introductory news conference.

"I'm very pleased," Mangino said. "Chancellor Hemenway had promised that he was going to find the best athletic director available in the nation. I think he achieved that goal today. I'm really pleased with the selection, and I'm really looking forward to working with Lew and building our program.

"There's no mistake about it. Our entire athletic department needs a lot of attention for every sport from top to bottom, but I'm very pleased with his approach and his philosophy about football and its role at a Big 12 institution."

Mangino laughed at talk-radio speculation that he would be on the hot seat this fall after posting a 2-10 record in his first season.

"Nothing surprises me now," he said. "That's the way this profession works, but I don't see that at all."

He also wasn't worried about working for someone other than Bohl, the man who hired him.

"The university, the chancellor is very much supportive of me and the program," Mangino said. "Lew has already said he's going to do everything he can -- not only to improve football but the entire athletic department. We really need a lot of things. We desperately need great leadership here, and he's going to provide that.

"Do I feel any added pressure? No. All the pressure I have is self-induced."

Perkins expressed confidence in KU's coach.

"People here feel that he's an excellent football coach," Perkins said of Mangino. "I obviously did my homework, and every place and everybody I talked to has assured me that, in their minds, he is the guy that can get the job done here. I'm excited about working with him and look forward to helping him develop a football program."

Mangino likely will seek Perkins' help in raising funds for a multi-million dollar project that would move KU's football offices to Memorial Stadium. The coach wasn't talking about specific needs Tuesday.

"We are laying the foundation," he said of his team -- not the stadium project. "I'll tell you what I need. I need a strong athletic director to come in here to help me get a roof on this thing. I'm not sure I could do that without a strong athletic director, somebody that will support you, help you, gather resources for you. He's the guy. There's no question in my mind that he's the guy."

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