Anyone who considers Kansas a capsule of dullness should check the current administrative-academic-athletic mish-mash of the state’s two major universities. Charles Dickens on a cocaine binge couldn’t fashion a scenario more diverse and intriguing than what’s been going on at Kansas and Kansas State this summer. There are character matchups and unusual situations to burn.
We can only hope things are eventually resolved as neatly as Old Charlie used to be able to do with his Copperfields, Nicklebys and Scrooges. Don’t bet on it.
Right now, KU looks to be light-years better off than K-State with all the changes taking place. At least KU isn’t in danger of a $3.2 million ripoff, which K-State could face in the 2015-2020 period, if the Ron Prince-Bob Krause football agreement proves to be legal.
First at KU. Bernadette Gray-Little is succeeding Robert Hemenway as chancellor this August and has had big-time schooling about the local scene from the likes of Kansas exes Jim Moeser, Dean Smith and Roy Williams. They all know the territory well and can offer her tremendous advice on countless things. But since none of these North Carolina powers ever has dealt directly with athletic director Lew Perkins, Gray-Little may have to wing it in handling the clout of Perkins, providing he selfishly decides to go his way rather than Gray-Little’s.
In his six years, Perkins pretty much has been handed blank checks by the departing Hemenway. Lew’s just banked a tax-free $2.05 million bonus for lasting this long. Are there further bonuses for extended longevity for a guy making $900,000 a year; if so, how will Gray-Little respond in the light of a sagging economy and a new all-university fundraising venture?
Yet this is small potatoes compared to the Three Stooges fire drill in which Kansas State is ensnarled. Kirk Shulz is succeeding Jon Wefald as president; there’s a new athletic director in John Currie; Bill Snyder, who helped Wefald micromanage KSU for 17 years, is back as football coach; ex-AD Krause is in trouble for that outlandish deal he made, supposedly without Wefald’s knowledge, to pay the fired Prince a ton of non-earned money, since Prince was fired in favor of Snyder’s return.
Wefald indicates he feels betrayed by Krause, a 23-year colleague and the son-in-law of one of KSU’s main sugar daddies. K-State has taken legal action contending the Prince-Krause deal is not kosher and should not be honored.
What a chain of personalities, with so many riddles to solve: Wefald, Snyder, Schulz, Currie, Krause, Prince … KU has to feel pretty good about its administrative changeover prospects. At least the Perkins bonus caper is out in the open and wasn’t signed by candlelight at midnight in the bowels of that remote little zoo they have in Manhattan.
Prince, never noted for his cuddly-dog fuzziness at KSU, is now in Virginia arrogantly contending he’s entitled to that $3.2 million ripoff even if he got a $1.5 million settlement when he was canned — after signing a new five-year contract. Just what did Krause have in mind for himself if he bypassed Wefald and other K-State authorities with that 2015-2020 deal?
I’d love to bring back Charlie Dickens to see how he could work his way through this mess and make sure the good guys are rewarded and the bad guys are pilloried.