Originally published September 2, 2009 at 11:19a.m., updated September 2, 2009 at 07:06p.m.

Kansas Athletics to give $40 million to academic programs at KU

Revenue would come from proposed 3,000-seat addition to east side of stadium

Big Jay and Baby Jay greet new students as they fill the north end of Memorial Stadium for Traditions Night in this file photo from Aug. 18, 2008. A proposed addition on the east side of Memorial Stadium, at left, would produce revenue directed to a $40 million commitment by Kansas Athletics Inc. to academic programs at KU.

Big Jay and Baby Jay greet new students as they fill the north end of Memorial Stadium for Traditions Night in this file photo from Aug. 18, 2008. A proposed addition on the east side of Memorial Stadium, at left, would produce revenue directed to a $40 million commitment by Kansas Athletics Inc. to academic programs at KU.


KU athletics to donate $40 million to academics

Pending approval for an expansion to Memorial Stadium, KU's athletics department has agreed to donate $40 million to the university's academic programs. The expansion would add 3,000 seats to the stadium, raising its capacity to 56,000.

Kansas Athletics will direct $40 million — a portion of revenue expected from an addition to Memorial Stadium — to academic programs at Kansas University.

The revenue would come from a proposed club seating addition that would accommodate 3,000 fans on the east side of Memorial Stadium.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little has yet to determine the specific allocations for the dollars, but it will support students, faculty and academic programs.

In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Gray-Little praised the agreement. “This is big,” the new chancellor said.

She said it was a wonderful experience to have this agreement be her first significant interaction with the athletic department.

“I think it says something about the athletic director’s interest and knowledge of what the university’s main function and main purpose is,” Gray-Little said. “I think it says something about a great university being one where academics and athletics can not only co-exist but actually be mutually supportive of one another.”

Gray-Little said it had not yet been determined how the university would receive the money and over how much time it would be distributed. She said the money could support scholarships, fellowships and other programs that have suffered recent budget reductions.

Lew Perkins, KU athletics director, said the new addition could be ready by the beginning of the next football season.

The Gridiron Club, which would be housed in a tower on the east side of Memorial Stadium, is designed to complement the existing westside scholarship suites and enhance the appearance of the stadium from neighborhoods to the east.

The existing suites seat nearly 600 people, but also include areas for the media.

Lew Perkins, KU athletics director, said exact details of the structure were still being worked out. But the seats could run from end zone to end zone and feature both indoor and outdoor seating.

More details on the seats will be available later this month, when the project goes before the Kansas Board of Regents.

Revenues from the sale of those eastside seats are expected to finance the project’s $34 million construction cost, as well as the $40 million academic commitment.

Pricing and other details on seating in the club will be announced later.

Perkins said the project had already generated a fair amount of excitement, and Kansas Athletics had been fielding calls from people interested in information about the new seats.

Perkins and Gray-Little said that while the idea for the stadium expansion had been in place before her arrival as chancellor, the idea to share the revenue from the project came out of a meeting Perkins and Gray-Little had during the summer.

The Kansas Board of Regents, which must approve the project, will consider it during its Sept. 16-17 meeting.

Perkins said he thought the project would be a hit — and hit big. The westside suites are currently sold out, he said. Kansas Athletics has heard from fans interested in more suite space, and has conducted studies indicating that the seats would sell.

He said the university and the athletic department were a family; when one benefits, so does the other. So when an opportunity for a large revenue-generating project arose, he said, it was important to share the wealth.

“We’re all in this together,” he said. “When the university gets stronger, our athletic programs get stronger.”

Even with the announcement, he said, Kansas Athletics continues to work hard to raise money in a difficult environment.

“I wouldn’t want to give the impression that we’re flush with money and money’s hanging out all our doors, because that’s not accurate,” he said, adding that without the project, they could not have made the donation to KU.

Elsewhere, other academic programs have been bolstered by athletics in recent months. At the University of Oklahoma, the athletic department recently announced it would increase its support of the university by $3 million annually in rough budget times.

Currently at KU, athletics provides support for scholarships and programming through licensing revenue, which generated more than $750,000 for KU last year after winning the national championship.

The department also pays for more than $11 million in tuition for student-athletes and maintenance of athletic facilities during the last academic year.


Kyle Crenshaw 12 years, 1 month ago

here's an idea... close it off and make it a bowl so sound cant escape anywhere. not to mention more ticket sales

12 years, 1 month ago

Pretty = View of Hill

Hostile = Track Removed and Field Lowered

Very Hostile = Track Removed and Field Lowered with Closed Bowl

sevenyearhawk 12 years, 1 month ago

I'll say it ...

that's right, dollar signs!

$ $ $ $ $ $ $


Tony Bandle 12 years, 1 month ago

1] Eliminate the track 2] Lower the field 3} Add more sideline seats 4] Add luxury boxes above the east stands 5] Square off the north bowl 6] Landscape and add more parking adjacent to stadium 7] Demo the slum houses from 11th to 9th and Miami to Missouri streets and build a major parking/tailgating structure 8] Enclose the south end [ still leave low enough for view from upper part of the Hill] 9] Span across east/west stands and hang Dallas Cowboy-like Mega screen 10] Ignore items 5 thru 10

chicagoeddie 12 years, 1 month ago

i think oakville might get a job rebuilding the stadium if they like your idea =)

MinnesotaJay 12 years, 1 month ago

Definitely a positive development. A win-win no-brainer. Hats off to Lew (AGAIN)!

MitchumMan 12 years, 1 month ago

This is great news. I love me some dollar signs! hahaha And txrockchalk is exactly right. It's just a matter of time before Memorial Stadium becomes "very hostile." I love the view and all but it's all about giving your team the best chance to win and the dollar signs! lol

rtyoungku 12 years, 1 month ago

7] Demo the slum houses from 11th to 9th and Miami to Missouri streets and build a major parking/tailgating structure

You had me until this...

labbadabba 12 years, 1 month ago

We don't have to close off the stadium to have a large hostile environment. If we extend the North Bowl up and add seats where the track is now, you're looking at another 20k seats.

That leaves the south side open to the view. The Horseshoe works just fine for Ohio State...

TxJyHwk 12 years, 1 month ago

Not closing off the bowl isn't because of the veiw during football games. It is because of the tradition of walking down the hill at graduation.

Joel Hood 12 years, 1 month ago

KU will never enclose the south side. There are too many other additional seating options available. Walking down the hill to an open stadium is as much a tradition at KU as the Rock Chalk Chant (I’ve walked twice and both times are easily in my top ten things I’ve ever done.) KUAC would never shoot themselves in the foot with that idea.

12 years, 1 month ago

OakvilleJHawk ~

Bullets 1 through 8 sound great! I think some people who own the homes described in bullet 7 or tailgate there might disagree. My group lost our traditional tailgating spot with the addition of the practice fields, so that was tough at first but we got used to it.

whoisjohngalt ~

I know Seven personally, and he is extremely obnoxious! Great guy though :^)

trojanhawk ~

Nice point...

Andy Hess 12 years, 1 month ago

Lew has already come out publicly in saying that we will NOT lower the field because it is too expensive. I believe his quote was something like "i think we can find a better way to spend $X million"

Code_2008 12 years, 1 month ago

Athletics already re-did the field, the track isn't going anywhere. Quit whining about it. Until another track is built somewhere, it'll be in the stadium.

12 years, 1 month ago

Code_2008 ~

Before you have a coronary, let me point out that we aren't saying these desired improvements have to be done by Saturday's game. We are well aware they won't remove the track until another facility is in place. We are talking about changes in the future, much like the context of this article.

Joel Hood 12 years, 1 month ago

RE the Track at Memorial Stadium -

When/if KUAC builds the new Olympic Village, the track might actually be removed from the stadium.

There is a lot of history in the KU Relays at Memorial Stadium. If the track goes, expect a loud outcry from the traditionalists. Also, even if the track does go, I remember a study that found it would not be economical to lower the field and add rows of seats closer to the field. I belieive there wouldn't be that many new seats and the sightlines would be unacceptable (I could be mistaken on that one though.)

charlesyu 12 years, 1 month ago

If the mandatory student fees that go to athletics stay in place. Than the KUAD will collect more in mandatory student athletic fees over this time, than they will have paid out towards academics. Great deal for ku athletics.

Dirk Medema 12 years, 1 month ago

Charles - What do the student athletic fees fund?

If you check, I think you'll find that there are a lot of athletics that the students fund that are not intercollegiate athletics (KUAC). Intramurals (general student population) is the most obvious, but my guess is that there are lots of other general student athletics being funded by student fees.

Eurekahwk 12 years, 1 month ago

Keeping the south end open loses sound to absorption from the open air. Closing it in bounces the sound off the stands and back into the stadium plus the sound created by thousands of screaming fans on that end would make Memorial very loud. Is this really that hard to understand?

What view are we talking about? The one on graduation day? One day out of the entire year? Or gameday where there is no view thanks to a video board and a million tents?

Put in stands like Texas has on the open end. They come down pretty easily for storage.

Dirk Medema 12 years, 1 month ago

trojanhawk says - (regarding the track being removed) KU needs to catch up with the rest of the college football world soon.

jayhawkerjoel says - There is a lot of history in the KU Relays at Memorial Stadium. If the track goes, expect a loud outcry from the traditionalists.

Moving the track isn't nearly as much a matter of catching up with the CFB world as it is a matter of catching up with the T&F world. The track in the stadium and the relays were once a wonderful part of KU. The reality is that the track is now substandard dimensionally (lane widths, etc. not length around for all those ready with the jokes) by elite/international stds.

A traditionalist might yell, for nostalgic sake - it's an expected part of change, and motivation for a Mayer article. Even a former runner might object - but only until they realize that the track and relays will never be elite until the track is moved.

Rather than whining (A lot like a 2 yr old "Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh ..." into histerics) about the track being at the steadium, how about doing something to see that a replacement track was constructed elsewhere on campus. Hmmm, being proactively constructive? Na, whining is easier - right?

mandomax 12 years, 1 month ago

I'm just glad to see KUAC donating this money to KU academic programs. You'll notice that the article never uses the word "donate," but that's what this is. Granted, students fund KUAC to a certain extent, but student activity fees accounted for only $1.9 million, just under 2%, of KUAC's revenues in the fiscal year ending June 2008. KUAC is stepping up in a time of Kansas state budget crisis and supporting the students that support it's teams.

Rock_Chalk_NYC 12 years, 1 month ago

Great move KUAC!

Reading a few messages above actually suggesting we keep the Track... are you nuts! That track is an embarrassment! Not to mention, weakens the potential homefield advantage we have and could enormously build on. We're the only program in the Big 12 and only top 25 program with a Ghetto track around our football field.

I've said it before and I'll say it again... Our TRACK Program deserves better (Olympic Village) and our Football Program does as well.

Also, the crying about $$$$ and how its ruining KU... I assume those folks are liberal students, professors or just young kids that have no idea about the real world. Any of you "juniors" complaining about the recruits we've been getting b/c of the new facilities? That came from good 'ol money. BTW, we're not even in the top 50 programs regarding revenue... but hopefully we'll get there!

Rock chalk!

escaped_labrat 12 years, 1 month ago

Alright, so really we just need to enhance the sound with a soundbooster. Place strategic speakers throughout that pump in just enough amplification of crowd noise to 'enhance' the atmosphere ;-) Problem solved. Isn't there some sort of speaker technology that could be used to enhance or direct sound towards certain spots, IDK, say maybe the opposing sideline and then computer, laser directed sound emitters that could track opposing players and direct extra crowd noise and a few intimidating phrases seemingly in the background noise along with subliminal persuasion like "you can't play against these Jayhawks, you'll only fail" or something like that. I really think that this could be done for under a cool million, but I could be wrong. Don't be surprised if this post suddenly disappears and opposing teams start acting skittish in the next year or so as the KU home record streak soars ;-)

OCJHAWK 12 years, 1 month ago

"Donating" $40 mil? More like extortion money to keep the new chancelor off KUAC's back. I'm sure that there are no pending needs for the cash in the athletic department like the minor sports or even upgrading the band. $40 mil is close to half a years expenses for the department.

I really hope that the new chancellor doesn't suck the lifeblood out of the positive momentum Lew and company have been creating. Kinda sounds like she sees KUAC as a taxing proposition.

truefan 12 years, 1 month ago

I agree with removing the track simply because the Olympic Village is under contstruction. Those suggesting the bowl should be closed, not a chance in hell. You don't need a closed football stadium to have a great football atmosphere...ever heard of the Horse Shoe at Ohio State? What KU needs is steady success in football to create the lifetime fans (such as our basketball fans) that the major football programs have. If KU can continue success long enough, people eventually won't remember the dark ages, they'll just remember the Fort Worth Bowl, Insight Bowl and Orange Bowl and many bowls to come.

jchief40 12 years, 1 month ago

seven - in the words of Herman Edwards "GET OUT! " :D

jchief40 12 years, 1 month ago

Give me a K give me a U give me a freakin upper case :D !!

12 years, 1 month ago

truefan ~

Regarding the Horse Shoe, click on this link:

If for some reason you are unable to open it, it shows the Horse Shoe is mostly closed. There may be some hostile stadium environments with an open end, however the majority are closed.

I agree with others, we need to start selling out the Memorial Stadium regularly before we make plans for significant seat expansion.

charlesyu 12 years, 1 month ago

Each ku student pays $40 dollars a semester in fees to support "minor sports" at ku . . . so it may "only" be about $2million a semester . . . but the bigger question is, what does ku athletics need with $2 million a year in student fees, when they're apparently making money hand over fist?? So, while Lew is handing back $40 million over a number of years, if the fees stay in place, ku students will hand back about the same amount money during that time and get nothing for it . . . except what?? Free admission to volleyball matches?? The stuff the ku students really care about still costs extra money like football and basketball tickets??

If you want to read some interesting stuff, go to the UDK articles about what happened when the SGA tried to amend those fees in light of the tuition hikes and budget cuts.

Blake Post 12 years, 1 month ago

wow, lot of gabbing going on here. I guess we are planning on selling out our stadium regularly. How great would that be?

Kman_blue 12 years, 1 month ago

Rock_Chalk_NYC said, "BTW, we're not even in the top 50 programs regarding revenue... but hopefully we'll get there! "

Actually, if the program you are talking about is athletics, then KU is currently #11 in the nation in revenue and have been in the top 20 or so for the last several years. If you only were talking about football, then you'd be about right.

Rock_Chalk_NYC 12 years, 1 month ago

Talking football only... not top 50... We'll get there though! Texas #1...hate seeing that.

Dirk Medema 12 years, 1 month ago

trojanhawk - As for constructive criticism, my ideas are no different than the plans set forth by the AD back last winter. They have a site planned out for the Olympic complex and an estimated cost. I give plenty to the Williams Fund, and helped promote renovations of stadiums at two different universities. Don't lump me together with irrational whiners.

Hi Trojan, My apologies to you. Your earlier comments were a starting point for my comments, but the whiner comment isn't necessarily directed at you. I have no idea what your (or anybody elses) involvement is with the Williams Fund or anything else. Glad to hear that you are willing and able to support our uni.

So who is a whiner? I thought my comments indicated that it was someone that only sees the track as a detriment to the FB team, and not a necessary, tho substandard, part of the track team. A new track has to be built before the existing track can be removed. Not grasping that fact makes a person an irrational whiner in my book. If that's not you, great! There's really no reason to even feel a need to defend yourself. If it is you, defend away.

Also, please note that the word choice in the original comment does not mean that moving the track or not won't have an impact on FB. In my opinion, it's just more important to the track team/relays, b/c the existing substandard track hinders KU from bringing in elite T&F athletes. I'm all for bringing a bigger crowd closer to the FB game. Hopefully, we'll continue to fill the stadium this year and years to come, so that there will be that much greater motivation to enlarge it and make the place that much more hostile. Maybe someday, people will remember a track at Memorial the way they currently remember a track at Phog.

Larry Smith 12 years, 1 month ago

I really don't understand the whole "close off the south end" crowd. Or the "Lets remove the track and lower the field to add more seats" crowd. How about a "lets sell out the seats we currenly have" crowd? Who wants to build more seats on the south end so that they can be left empty?

The "Hostile Crowd" is not made by adding more seats or closing off the end, its made by adding more people. Lets try to get that done first.

I know this is not a popular opinion, but I'm just sayin...

DJay23 12 years, 1 month ago

Kyle Field at Texas A&M comes to mind as a major college football stadium that is both loud and open on one end.

12 years, 1 month ago

Good point, DJay23. Kyle Field is certainly proof that it can be done, however that stadium is somewhat unique in that I would argue they have the best fans in college football. It doesn't matter how much aTm is down by or up by, when the opposing team has the football, the fans (particularly the students who fill the majority of the east side of the stadium (30,000-ish?)) make an incredible amount of noise on every play. Here is a link to a good photo of the stadium on game day:

They set up some portable bleachers on the south end of the stadium, though it is mostly open. If a person has never been to a game there and has a chance to do so, be sure and go. It is a great experience and the fans are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet in the Big 12 (outside the ones in Lawrence of course :^)

Clarence Haynes 12 years, 1 month ago

A new track at the "Olympic Village" will do more to put KU Track and Field back to where it is suppose to be than to continue to hold the Kansas Relays at Memorial Stadium. If KU is to attract a greater number of national calibre track and field athletes, it requires a state of the art facility such as that at the "Village". Moreover, the new track facility would seat pretty much what the attendance has been at the Relays in recent years and if not, one could always put in temporary stands.

Getting back to football, if we are to be truly competetive, we need to further upgrade our Memorial Stadium facilities with the added benefit of money going toward academics. In effect, I would love to see KU not only continue to move up in the football polls, but also begin to move up to higher levels academically, in the US News and World Report rankings.

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