Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Wind whispers tidbits about KU AD candidates from Illinois State, Tulsa


Some gossips like to drop hints and leave it at that so they can pass lie-detector tests about whether they were the source of leaks.

With the search committee chaired by Ray Evans keeping such a tight lid on the candidates’ names, listening to the whispering wind is the best way to formulate guesses.

One such crumb: “They know enough to trust Bill Self’s judgment and Self has been told great things from a very close friend about a candidate who’s not from a big football school, but has a strong football background.”

That points to Illinois State athletic director Sheahon Zenger, about whom Self has heard great things from Illinois State basketball coach Tim Jankovich, Self’s former assistant.

Zenger’s in his sixth year at Illinois State since coming from his alma mater, Kansas State, where he was associate AD/development.

Zenger coached football at Manhattan High, as an assistant at Drake University and, at the age of 23, under Bill Snyder at K-State.

Zenger received a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications from K-State (1992) and a doctorate in educational policy and leadership from Kansas (1996). He then worked as an assistant football coach at South Florida and Wyoming.

His scandal-free record is appealing and so is his personality. Why didn’t K-State look to hire him when Bob Krause resigned? Who says it didn’t? One gossip shared that Zenger might have had reservations about having to clean up the mess created by former football coach Ron Prince’s secret agreement with Krause for a $3.2 million parachute for Prince. Plus, Zenger always says he loves it at Illinois State and everybody believes he means it.

Meanwhile, Self is not going to be the one to pick the next athletic director. He’s a secure enough individual to know that he’ll get along with just about anybody selected for the job. Self knows how to control a basketball team, as illustrated by the consistently strong defensive effort and wise shot selection of his players, but he’s never been a guy with a desire to control an athletic department.

Is Zenger a finalist? Nobody will say, but on the surface, there doesn’t seem to be much not to like about him. Kansas, which many believe could go as high as a $600,000 salary for the next AD, pays better than Illinois State.

One very keen pair of ears said that although not everybody from the search committee was blown away by Tulsa AD Bubba Cunningham, he remains a strong candidate.

For the past month or so, the prevailing wisdom has had it that the committee will bring three candidates to chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, ranking them in order and sharing their reasons for their preferences.

If Cunningham and Zenger are indeed two of the three finalists, the identity of a third remains a mystery. Search committee chairman Ray Evans made it clear from the beginning that he had heard from a wide array of impressive candidates and that not all of them currently are athletic directors. Could the mystery candidate fall into this category? He or she could.

KU Alumni Association director Kevin Corbett is highly regarded within the university, community and among donors as a bright, young leader, but nobody has mentioned his name to me as a possible candidate. Just a thought.


Randy Maxwell 6 years ago

The new AD has to care about football FIRST, it is the cash cow for every successful athletic department. Basketball is a secondary sport that can't possibly transform an entire department like football can. Football is king bottom line

Nutflush21 6 years ago

I agree Maxhawk, and besides as long as Bill Self is at KU, the basketball program will take care of itself.

Sam Brockert 6 years ago

your right, however at KU we have the 4th largest Endowment in the Big 12 BECAUSE of basketball...Think about if we had a decent football team too?

Nutflush21 6 years ago

Seriously, your handle is disgusting. You should refrain from ever posting on this site again.

Brad Farha 6 years ago

Nut Flush is a poker term. It means having the best flush draw in a poker hand that can't be beat. I could be wrong, and he means it in a lewd way, but on paper that's what it means.

LAJayhawk 6 years ago

No, Jacobpaul, it isn't. Rockn_Chalkn is correct. It is a poker term, generally speaking.

Chris Shaw 6 years ago

First I don't get the KSA_21_3505 and Second, the nut flush doesn't have to be a draw. You just have the stone cold "Nuts" or you simply have the "Nut Flush Draw". Nut Flush is, you already have the "Nuts".

kckmedic 6 years ago

KSA 21.3503 is the Kansas Statute for indecent liberties with a child. LJW staff should force him to change his handle.

rkck80 6 years ago

You my friend are an idiot. Your handle is neither clever or the least bit funny.

Brad Farha 6 years ago

I don't get it -- why reference this Kansas statute as your handle? I looked up the statute, so I know what it is. I just don't understand why you'd identify with it.

hammerhawk 6 years ago

I agree 100% with KSA. The names need to go back on KU football jerseys IMMEDIATELY!!!!

bad_dog 6 years ago

For anyone that might be interested, here's a long string of messages (and my responses to them) I recently received from KSA when I asked why he uses this loser name. I've asked him several times on both and This is the first time he's "responded" to my inquiry. As you will see, he never addresses or defends the name, he just tries to divert the question by informing the board that you are a hick, a homophobe, a poor dresser or in fact advocate child molestation yourself. Anything but an explanation, right KSA?

bad_dog 6 years ago

Like I said above, the guy never explains the loser name. Just tries to make it about the questioner.

midhawktx 6 years ago

This is disturbing...come on KUSPORTS, this poster's handle should not be allowed.

gchawk 6 years ago

Are you trying to impress us with the fact you're some kind of law maker or disgust us because you're a child molestor? Either way you're a loser.

ahpersecoachingexperience 6 years ago

I'm done. DONE! I've accepted the fact that we are going with the turner gill experiment when it comes to our next AD.

Dear search committee wake the eff up!

Brak 6 years ago

Hopefully you are DONE posting comments on this site as well.

Andy Tweedy 6 years ago

I would actually like to know what it is about this candidate you don't like...seriously. I dont' know anything about this guy except what I've read here. What have you learned about this guy to shape this post?

Dyrk Dugan 6 years ago

our next AD could be a k-state grad? God help us....

c'mon Bubba!

Lone_salina_kufan 6 years ago

and a doctorate in educational policy and leadership from Kansas (1996) I think this allows us to also call him an alum of KU so it works

Maracas 6 years ago

It lists KSU as his alma mater and he worked there as an associate AD. Great. First a Bugeater football coach and now a possible grape for an AD. JFC. Let's go for the trifecta and get a Mizzou grad to replace BG-L.

ahpersecoachingexperience 6 years ago

Hey candy man. If your were looking for someone to run your business would you hire a top level exec from herseys or some guy that managed the candy store at the mall?!?!?!?!?

LAJayhawk 6 years ago

Depends... how good is the candy at the mall, and would I get an unlimited supply? I mean if you're talking about gumballs and candy corn, then pass. But if it's soft-center chocolate truffles or reece's peanut butter brownies, then....

chickensandwich 6 years ago

The first thing you need to remember is that Keegan has never been even remotely close to accurate with his gossip column. Never once.

ahpersecoachingexperience 6 years ago

My favorite was when we were told mike leach could go to asu the day after asu's ad said erickson would be returning.

Robert Brock 6 years ago

This guy sounds marginally qualified. Today's KU needs - the money chase, upgrade of facilities, and improvement in the football program - means that the candidate should have a great deal of experience and financial ability.

Continue with the search.

Ben Kane 6 years ago

didn't lew already upgrade most of our facilities?

LANDOFOZ 6 years ago

Have you been to the concessions and restrooms on the upper level? disgusting. Why they remodeled the lowere level and didn't touch the upper, I'll never know.

Robert Brock 6 years ago

We may not be able to compete with North Texas.

Lone_salina_kufan 6 years ago

Strong Football background, considered great character, and great with financial matters= Denny Thume. He should absolutely be a candidate. I think its outside the box, and would be a total home run.

treidy 6 years ago

Absolutely agree with every word you said. Denny, is the ONLY candidate that should be considered!

Brianna Zaleski 6 years ago

Jay Hinrichs, the AD from Northern Colorado is, or was at one time, a canidate as well.

Hank Cross 6 years ago

None of these candidates appear to be what is needed above all else - to be a highly skilled negotiator with great contacts, The way KU was blindsided last Summer and its capitualtion to UT were humiliating. The next AD needs to hear what is going to happen way before it happens and be ready to deal with Dodds's bluffs.

lama 6 years ago

Bubba and Snyder Jr. are non-starters. Better keep looking....

rolo2383 6 years ago

I broke my vow to never read Keegan again but this was about the AD position so I read it and of course he mentions a KState guy. Keegan loves KState.

I think Thume would be great. He's a money guy and he's been around football forever.

Benjamin Piehler 6 years ago

im sure these candidates are nice guys and everything.... but is the KU AD position really so undesirable right now that we have to pick someone up from Illinois State or Tulsa? I mean, Perkins came from UConn, not that I want another Perkins. (Not everyone from a major school is scandal prone.)

I'm just saying, after this whole Turner Gill our of Buffalo thing; id prefer a safe bet.

midhawktx 6 years ago

I hope we find an AD with strong ties to a major conference. We will need that relationship when conference realignment happens in four years. It will be especially important if TG can't turn the football program around. We don't want to be on the outside looking in again.

midhawktx 6 years ago

Good point...maybe one with strong ties to a conference and not mingled in a ticket/kick-back scandal.

Ben Kliewer 6 years ago

Conference realignment won't happen in four years. Remember? The world is going to end in 2 years.

Chris1955 6 years ago

Warning.....Wild conspiracy scenario.

Lew Perkins left about a year or so earlier than he previously agreed to, thus the current search for an new AD began. Prior to leaving KU, Lew arranges for Turner Gill's 5 year, $2mm/year contract. The high dollar and length of this agreement precludes making any buyout before the end of year 4 doubtful. This past spring saw the near demise of the Big 12. Many have speculated that the Big 12 in its current configuration will not survive.

Currently, Lew doesn't represent KU in any offical capacity to my knowledge. We can debate Lew's personal foilables, however, I think we can agree that his overall tenure at KU was successful, though marred by ethic issues. Lew is/was also a respected figure in the college AD community. Any new AD that is brought on by KU, will have their hands full learning their new position at their new university. Would anyone expect that a newby AD would be able to successfully and effectively negotiate KU's entry into a prestigious athletic football conference, such as the Pac 10, Big Ten, or SEC? I don't think that is likely.

Texas decided not to pull the plug on the Big 12 when they determined that they couldn't take their favorite B*tch, Texas A&M with them into the Pac 10 to create the Pac 16. A&M sought the greener non-looming UT pastures of the SEC as their exit plan. This hesitation gave Lew a chance to campaign for KU's entrance into the Pac 10, which I believe would have happened if the Big 12 folded its tent.

So, is it completely ridiculous to wonder if Lew is a stealth negotiator who will continue to work on KU's placement into another conference, should UT decide that life for them is better as an independent, ala Notre Dame, than it is for them being the controlling power of a 10 team Big 12 conference? I wouldnt be the least bit suprised if this was the case.

LAJayhawk 6 years ago

I would. Lew walked away before half a dozen employees he would have been in charge of were handed federal indictments.

It would be great if what you said was true, but you were correct with your disclaimer: it is a wild conspiracy theory.

ralphus 6 years ago

Cunningham may be a perfectly viable candidate, but I would be intrigued to hear him explain to the committee why Tulsa continues to play its home football games in front of a half-empty stadium despite the fact they've consistently been pretty good the past few years.

If he can't sell THAT product to that community, what makes them think he could sell THIS product to this community?

Not saying he doesn't have his merits, I'd just love to hear the answer.

LAJayhawk 6 years ago

My guess would be because Tulsa is swamped with OU supporters. It's all OU all the time down there.

They're not going to attend a minor league game when their championship caliber major league team is contending for conference and national titles year in and year out. Simple as that.

Andrew Fry 6 years ago

a friend of a friend of a friend whose cousin works in the athletic department at the university of MidWest Tech said he knew of someone that might have the inside scoop into the search for the KU AD

Layne Pierce 6 years ago

The unfortunate reality of our conference is that it is still extremely unstable. Texas has every reason to stay, because it is the king, but that still does not mean that it will decide to do something else, because that is just UT. Every one in Texas knows that, just ask the other Texas schools.

Nebraska sought a level of committment that Texas was unable or unwilling to give. Therefore they took equality and security over any other considerations and they bolted.

Our new AD had better come in looking at our options. We have absolutely no guarantees about our future. A bigger problem is that Texas prevented us from going after say TCU and Tulsa. There are not that many candidates, and ultimately if we are going to be a viable BCS conference, we are going to have to expand again.

Mr. Beebe may be comfortable with the new status quo, but reality says otherwise.

Andy Tweedy 6 years ago

I think on the surface what you say is true, but I'm starting to think otherwise. Going to 12 teams has a lot of legs because of the playoff money, but I was thinking about the Big 10 and how valuable it can be to the conference to NOT have a playoff. It's hardly unthinkable to have two teams with none or one loss, and that conference championship game will pretty much guarantee that one of those teams gets knocked out of the BCS. The way things are now, I could see the conference being more likely to get two BCS bowl teams. Not sure I'm sold on this, but it did cross my mind.

Layne Pierce 6 years ago

The unfortunate reality of our conference is that it is still extremely unstable. Texas has every reason to stay, because it is the king, but that still does not mean that it will decide to do something else, because that is just UT. Every one in Texas knows that, just ask the other Texas schools.

Nebraska sought a level of committment that Texas was unable or unwilling to give. Therefore they took equality and security over any other considerations and they bolted.

Our new AD had better come in looking at our options. We have absolutely no guarantees about our future. A bigger problem is that Texas prevented us from going after say TCU and Tulsa. There are not that many candidates, and ultimately if we are going to be a viable BCS conference, we are going to have to expand again.

Mr. Beebe may be comfortable with the new status quo, but reality says otherwise.

LAJayhawk 6 years ago

Please, PLEASE tell me you typed that on purpose... the 12 year old in me is on the floor with laughter...

Of course, the adult in me is shaking his head at myself... but he really needs to lighten up... severly immature sense of humor is so much more fun!

Bear86 6 years ago

Like it or not Lew was very connected in the AD/Sports world. He was instrumental in getting KU to the Orange Bowl. MU beat us in the final game of the year and they were passed over largely to due with Lew's connections. The fact that were looking to bring in a new AD from some Jr College (Ill State or Tulsa ??) just shows how bad things have gotten. Our ticket scandal and the Big 12 shake up this summer have not helped but KU is still a very prestigious university that should be able to hire a solid D1/BCS AD that know's how to run a big time athletic program. We better bring some one in that is connected because the conference is very fragile and we are the week sister in Football once again. F-Texas!!!!

kureader 6 years ago

We were invited to the Orange Bowl because of Lew's influence?

LAJayhawk 6 years ago

There are more than a few who believe that he played a rather important role in that decision, yes.

rockchalk_dpu 6 years ago

I know that there has been a lot of debate about the candidates that Keegan has proposed in this article, however I am curious to know what you all think of Kevin Pritchard stepping in as AD.

I realize that this would be his first position in the head office of a university, however his experience as GM for Portland substantially increased their talent level in a number of deals (shrewd negotiator) and undoubtedly would be loyal to his university trying to steer them in a direction to keep them nationally relevant in all sports. The only area that I am not convinced is with his ability to raise money, since NBA teams don't really require this, I have to think that he would be well suited to shaking the trees and selling KU since he is well-versed in the tradition and is a part of the KU family.

Shoot it down, praise it, whatever you like, but I am curious to know what you think about this idea.


Chris1955 6 years ago

I wonder if the professional sports GM experience has any relevance to being a university AD? I honestly don't know.

Hank Cross 6 years ago

It's not a bad idea. As I posted above, we need someone who is experienced with high level negotiations and will have their calls answered. I don't know if Pritchard has that much juice, but his professional associations have got to be a help.

If the criteria is going to be someone who is 'a good guy' who might possibly, someday build a decent FB program, KU might as well just ring up Dodds and have him send one of his assistant ADs to do the job and officially rename the school UT-Lawrence.

LAJayhawk 6 years ago

I know what I'm getting when I click on a Keegan article, so, of course, I have no one to blame but myself for reading them. But I am trying to avoid work at the moment, and the gossip monster got the better of me.

I have to say, though, that Keegan is really turning into a National Enquirer reporter. This is supposed to be journalism, and you truly are just throwing darts at a board. I'm sure you've heard some voices, probably from people with some connections, but is that really fit to print?

I swallowed the bait and clicked on the article which is exactly the purpose of gossip rags -- so, of course, people like me deserve part of the blame -- but, Keegan, do you ever feel bad about the level to which you perform your craft? Do you ever dream of respectability? Do you ever feel like you shouldn't stoop to the gossip level to get the clicks you need for ad revenue? Doesn't it make you feel a little dirty? A journalistic prostitute of sorts?

Just my two cents as a consumer of Kansas sports information. And apparently a gossip John....

Geekinout 6 years ago

KU has one of the goofiest football stadiums in the Big 12. I just wish the new A.D. focuses on this issue. The football culture of KU would greatly be influenced from this and we can at least pretend we are a real team that's consistently relevant every year. Fake it till you make it, right? Well, that's just like, my opinion man..

Benjamin Piehler 6 years ago

interesting choice for a user name......

kureader 6 years ago

Apologies in advance to Keegan if we later determine that Zenger really was on the short list. But it looks more like a article to stir up KU fans who think KU deserves a more experienced AD, and that a good candidate couldn't possibly come from K-Straight.

ahpersecoachingexperience 6 years ago

kureader i fell for it too. fish hooked! this is clearly a case of bubba and zenger getting a phone call from the search group and then leaking it to the local meatball that they are up for the job in hopes of getting some support from the fans. looks like it didn't work for either of them.

rob4lb 6 years ago

Needless to say, the AD selection is very important. A plus for KU, is that we have state-of-the art facilities. Facilities are important for recruiting and achieving maintaining competitiveness in football and Perkins did a great job in this area. This is something that a new AD will be not have to be concerned with.

Building the football program is key, but we need someone who will be able to put us in the best position during the next round of conference realignment should that occur. I think the best option for KU is a strengthen Big 12. I would like to see a new AD with strong ties to another BCS conference who might be able to get us into the Big 10 or Pac 10 or even the SEC should the Big 12 implode.

Chris Weaver 6 years ago

Denny Thum makes the most sense. He has an incredible mind for the money (see the renovations at arrowhead) and obviously comes from a football background. He's a by the book guy who will quietly go about cleaning up any hints of impropriety and has no problem letting others take the spotlight (see carl peterson).

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