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Originally published December 14, 2010 at 03:50p.m., updated December 14, 2010 at 09:57p.m.

Sources: Bubba Cunningham to be KU’s next athletic director

Tulsa athletic director Bubba Cunningham speaks to the Rotary Club of Tulsa in this January 2010 file photo. According to sources, Cunningham will be named the next athletic director at KU.

Tulsa athletic director Bubba Cunningham speaks to the Rotary Club of Tulsa in this January 2010 file photo. According to sources, Cunningham will be named the next athletic director at KU.

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Bubba Cunningham timeline

1982-83 — Member of Notre Dame golf team

1984 — Earned bachelor’s degree in business administration from Notre Dame

1987-88 — Served as athletics department intern at Notre Dame

1988 — Earned master’s degree in business administration from Notre Dame

1988-93 — Served as Notre Dame’s ticketing and marketing manager

1993-95 — Became Notre Dame’s assistant athletic director/business manager

1995-2000 — Served as Notre Dame’s associate athletics director for finance and facilities

2000-02 — Served as Notre Dame’s associate director of athletics for external affairs

2002-05 — Accepted athletic director position at Ball State University

2005-10 — Became athletic director position at University of Tulsa

2010 — Reported to be Kansas University's next athletic director, replacing Lew Perkins

Kansas University has chosen Tulsa University’s Lawrence “Bubba” Cunningham as its next athletic director, according to sources, but as of Tuesday, the sources were unaware of a scheduled news conference to announce a successor to Lew Perkins.

The Tulsa World reported Tuesday on its website that KU would hold a news conference Wednesday or Thursday to announce the hiring.

“I think word would have gotten to me if that (a press conference today) was going to happen,” one Journal-World source said. “The last I had heard was that there would not be an announcement until after Christmas. I don’t know whether that will change.”

Tulsa faces Hawaii on Christmas Eve in the Hawaii Bowl, which might be a factor in why Cunningham preferred to delay the announcement.

Cunningham makes a weekly appearance on Tulsa radio station 1430 The Buzz at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Asked by the show host about reports he had accepted the A.D. job at Kansas, Cunningham didn’t tip his hand.

“I do not talk about it until there’s a change in employment status,” Cunningham said. “And there is not a change in employment status.”

Journal-World sources said Cunningham and Notre Dame Deputy Athletic Director Bill Scholl interviewed with Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little last week on the recommendation of a search committee that ranked Cunningham as its top choice.

Cunningham, 48, earned an undergraduate degree (1984) and master’s in business (1988) from Notre Dame. Cunningham has been at Tulsa for more than five years. Before that, he was A.D. at Ball State in Indiana for three years.

Born in Flint, Mich., and reared in Naples, Fla., Cunningham also worked 15 years in the athletic department at Notre Dame, where he played on the golf team.

His nickname, “Bubba,” comes from his childhood. Cunningham explained his nickname at his introductory press conference at Tulsa: “I have two older sisters, my first name is Lawrence or ‘Larry,’ same name as my father and my sisters couldn’t say brother. I was a short, fat little kid and it stuck. I have had that name ever since.

“By time I went to college, I thought this was an opportunity to go by my middle name. My middle name is Richard, so I would have been Richie Cunningham and I didn’t think that was a good option. I decided to stay with ‘Bubba.’”

Comments

danmoore 3 years, 4 months ago

I'd rather join the ACC. It would be great playing against Duke and UNC and this is a conference we can compete against in football. We've already beaten VAtech, Duke and GAtech. Make it happen Larry.

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Ray March 3 years, 4 months ago

If we do hire him, he's got to drop the "BUBBA".

That's not going to work.

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Chris Bruning 3 years, 4 months ago

all i gotta say is he better leave Coach Self alone and let him do his thing. We do not need another roy williams situation. can't remember that AD's name...al somthing

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KSA_21_3503 3 years, 4 months ago

Figures they would pick someone named Bubba. This ship is sinking and it's going to take 10 years to repair the damage that Gray-Little is causing.

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jhwkfan162515 3 years, 4 months ago

This is making me hungry for some Bubba-Gump Shrimp!

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rob4lb 3 years, 4 months ago

It is interesting to read these posts. I'm not sure who some of you expected KU to hire. Objectively, KU has a mid-level athletic program in a major conference. You are not going to get a big name to come here. Why would someone with Florida, Texas or Ohio State ties come to KU? If you would be happy with an assistant from one of those programs, you should be happy with Cunningham. Notre Dame probably has a Top 10 overall athletic program. Football has been down a little, but the overall programs are strong.

I want to make sure we are in a stronger position if conference realignment continues and I can't tell if Cunningham's contacts and ties strengthens KU's position.

The Big 12 is fairly stable because Texas is happy. I live in Texas and will tell you the school that can make of break the Big 12 is not Texas, it's A&M. They could make a jump to the SEC (UT will never go to the SEC) and if that happens, I think the conference is in trouble.

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KU_FanSince75 3 years, 4 months ago

@ kcglowboy---good point---we all don't want to look like fools.

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kcglowboy 3 years, 4 months ago

Let's all keep in mind: NOBODY has confirmed this. All of our local media outlets are quoting a Tulsa media outlet. I give Keegan credit for acknowledging that the Journal-World hasn't confirmed anything. So before we get too wrapped up in this story, let's all pause and remember all the erroneous news stories last spring about conference realignment, and recall that about 95 percent of the "reports" showing up in local media outlets were using OTHER MEDIA OUTLETS as their sources. And more than a few times, some media outlets were citing other media outlets' reports of RUMORS, and calling it news.

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Phil Minkin 3 years, 4 months ago

To the new AD in words you can understand: "Git'er done!"

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KU_FanSince75 3 years, 4 months ago

Sorry folks---let me try again--- One of my favorite TV shows of which they decided to cancel, of course:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPe9TfrxBjs

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KU_FanSince75 3 years, 4 months ago

Anyone with a name like "Lawrence" or "Bubba" has to be good, right?

I wonder how he feels about the football program and Coach Gill? You know someone is going to ask that when he is introduced.

In honor of one of my favorite TV series, I say, "Welcome aboard, Bubba!"

www.youbube.com/watch?v=jPe9TfrxBjs&feature=related

Enjoy Lawrence, KS!

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up4par2000 3 years, 4 months ago

Why didn't Kansas go after Jim Livengood?

Livengood, who formerly was the chair of the NCAA Division I men's basketball Selection Committee.

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Dyrk Dugan 3 years, 4 months ago

it's a solid hire...and frankly one we needed. He has a good background at Notre Dame....darn near did everything there, except be an assoc. AD for a sport....then hired Brady Hoke at Ball St...and all he's ever done is produce the greatest football season in Ball St. history...and now he has San Diego St. flying high.

and now Tulsa....they're in one of their best all around sports success...as they've ever been...and definitely one of the best in their league. and football certainly has improved.

when he was first mentioned...i figured he was as good as anybody...and he's had a lot of midwest background....thank Christ we didn't hire the K-State grad.

Welcome Bubba!

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jayhawkinnebr 3 years, 4 months ago

Don't know Bubba, so will wait and see what he does on cleaning up the mes Perkins left KU. He has a pretty big job to do and it will take some time, I am sure. I think its a good time to use the word SCENARIO here. Ahpersecoachingexperience used the word the other day and I was so impresssed with it. So here goes! I think that a good SCENARIO would be that Bubba comes in and fires Gill and Bonnie then starts looking for good candidates. Bubba need to take a look at Jay Norvell with Oklahoma to replace Gill. Not knowing candidates for the replacement of Bonnie, it would be wise of him to look for someone like Sheri Coale stature. I think he will probably go slow at first, but then bring out the pink slips. Good luck Bubba, welcome aboard.

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Ben Kliewer 3 years, 4 months ago

What if every team in the country just merged up to a 120 team superconference!

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hailtoku 3 years, 4 months ago

The only thing saving this school from losing hundreds of millions of dollars is the Big 12.

***WARNING BOLD COMMENT**

The Big 12 conference is more important to this school than Bill Self.

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jayhawk4life15 3 years, 4 months ago

sounds like a good, solid hire. after reading his bio, it looks like bubba has done well everywhere he has been and Tulsa has had the most athletic department success since C USA formed. he has valuable experience that seems like it will translate well to KU. GO JAYHAWKS!

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ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 4 months ago

I guess I just think we are bigger/better to be hiring "time will tell" guys!

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minipman 3 years, 4 months ago

wow.. what is going on with KU athletics... first a no name football coach..from a no name school in a no name conference.. now a no name AD from a no name school in a no name conference.. lord help me if Bill Self leaves.. who would we hire as a new b-ball coach? mayb we'd go get the morehead state coach.. hahahaha .. somebody please save KU athletics.. i think its all Gray-littles fault.. rid her from this university

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jhox 3 years, 4 months ago

You people criticizing this hire have no qualifications to be doing so. None of us sat through the interviews, or saw the resumes of those interested in the position. He had an MBA from ND. I'm guessing he's probably a pretty bright guy.

Time will tell if it is a good hire. There is no point freaking out over the fact that he hasn't been heading up a BCS school atheletic department.

Besides, how appealing do you think this job really is? Half of the key people from the prior administration are likely on their way to prison, and we have a new football coach with a $10 million guaranteed contract and a 3 and 9 first season record. Oh, and then there is that $90+ million of debt the athletic department is drowning in. I'm sure every big name AD in the country was fighting over this position, including he AD's at Texas, Florida, Ohio State and Notre Dame.

We're lucky to get someone with the qualifications this guy has.

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jaybate 3 years, 4 months ago

This implies two things.

1.Chancellor Bernie is running KUAD and will be guiding KU through the merger of the Big 12 with the Big East, not some AD. The regents probably told her to get it under control, or they would find a chancellor who would. She hired a guy she can control.

  1. Self approves the guy, or chancellor Bernie does not see Self at KU much longer without Perkins.
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Geekinout 3 years, 4 months ago

I'm still wondering why KU didn't go to the Big East and how TCU ended up there instead. We would be giving Texas and all the current schools left in the Big 12 the shaft and would have a chance in football. Not to mention that would already boost the Big East conference to the top of the food chain, which they pretty much already are. If anything, KU could go independent for basketball considering scheduling is pretty flexible anyways.

I think this could be Bubba's first big decision at KU. Just a thought and opinion. It's not like we still couldn't continue the rivalry games.

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RockChalk217 3 years, 4 months ago

This is a great hire. I think that this move was football motivated. This guy hired Gus Malzahn and I think that the committee was focusing on the football program and thought that if Turner doesn't pan out then Bubba can hire the top assistant in the country and best offensive mind in football right now who he hired previously at Tulsa.

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wheeljo 3 years, 4 months ago

As a KU alum and life-long Tulsan, who also works in athletic administration....I love the hire! No, Bubba may not be a flashy hire or a "big name" as some people want...but I will tell you this....he will do a great job. The guy makes good decisions and goes after good coaches. Just ask anyone around town what he's done with the facilities at TU. He's a perfect fit for KU....give the guy a chance!!!

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Janet Scott 3 years, 4 months ago

Let's give Cunningham a chance. I think he will do fine. KU athletics (less men's basketball) has no where to go but up.

I am amused that so many think KU can attract "big names" to fill headline positions on Mt. Oread. It's just not going to happen (again, with the exception of men's basketball). "Big Names" don't need a career stepping stone (which KU is) on their way to the top jobs in the land. And I suspect the KU AD search committee found out quickly it was slim picking re high profile national candidates who were interested in the KU AD job -- there were none. Not one.

And so we throw our fortunes on Bubba. Can Bubba keep KU in a BCS conference? Maybe. Will he have the guts to strongly and quickly deal with losing KU athletic programs, of which there are many? Maybe. We better hope so. Will he resisit seeking to influence men's basketball (contrary to our friend, Al Bohl)? Likely. Will he establish himself as a spectacular leader, working with, but largely independent of Bernie GL (who knows nothing about college athletics)? We'll see.

Best wishes, Bubba. Call if you need help, or just want to talk.

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Lloyd Kinnison 3 years, 4 months ago

The University of Tulsa is and was a great program. The new AD will bring experiece from private and public univesity experience. Great choice. LK

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milehighhawk 3 years, 4 months ago

Good hire - KC Star had a much better review of his background.

I remember when we hired Roy Williams, and people were stuck on his first name...I suppose that's the easiest thing to latch on to when you don't know anything about the guy, but it's hardly a reason to form a negative opinion.

Ahperse - Not sure what your deal is, but your schtick is tired...you really never offer anything worthwhile to these discussions. We could bring in Parcells and you'd find a way to gripe. Maybe consider waiting until he's on the job before you start critiquing his performance. Just a thought...you know, to mix it up and keep the rest of us off-guard.

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Chris1955 3 years, 4 months ago

From Ball State to Tulsa to KU for a 48 year old guy with his educational background is not the AD career path of a fast tracker. I hope he surprises me.

Sometimes committees need to shut down a search process, wait 2 months, and start all over again. I fear that this hiring may be an example where this principle should have been applied.

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phoggyball 3 years, 4 months ago

Q:why so serious oakville? Q:did lew win an orange bowl? Q:did lew win the 08 basketball championship? A: NO!

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Fortesque Beagleton 3 years, 4 months ago

Alright, the dude has a pretty impressive resume. At 48 he sounds like a real up-and-comer slash go-getter. Could be that we're just another stepping stone on this guy's rise to the top. Or maybe not, but I'm willing to give him a chance. My advice to him is this: let coach Self handle every aspect of basketball operations that he wants, and do the exact opposite for Gill, who needs to focus on coaching and recruiting only. Football HAS to be priority number one from the get-go. Facilities still need to improve, as does monetary support. The ticket scandal is pretty much in the past at this point. Run a tight ship with loads of integrity and transparency where needed, and he's got my vote.

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danmoore 3 years, 4 months ago

I was hoping to land his brother Cletus.

For God sake, just go by Larry.

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Tony Bandle 3 years, 4 months ago

WOW...I'd call a lot of these posts throwing the guy under the bus...and the bus hasn't left the garage yet!!

I have to admit the "Bubba" name carries an implied, noncomplimentary connotation but no one said just because you were a little country you were dumb.

Step back folks and take a look at this from the other side of the mirror. Is the Kansas A.D. job just dripping with potential glory and instant success....I don't think so.

Maybe he was the only one who said 'Yes".

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treidy 3 years, 4 months ago

As both a KU and ND grad who lived in Tulsa, I must say that I am very please with this hire particularly considering what he did while at ND: he renegotiated the school's footwear contract, he was responsible for a $30 million budget, negotiated with Westwood for football radio rights and helped plan and complete the renovations and expansion of Notre Dame Stadium amongst many others.

Larryville has a whole new meaning now! Welcome home Bubba!

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Hank Cross 3 years, 4 months ago

He could be OK and should be given a chance. I wasn't sure about Scholl b/c it wouldn't surprise me a bit if ND AD Swarbrick was in on the scam with Dodds to cause the whole conference chaos of last summer. Swarbrick and Dodds are reportedly close and the next biggest winner behind UT last summer was ND who got to keep their independence and the B10's threat to break up the BE to force ND to the B10 is now gone.

The only thing to be concerned about is whether Bubba will feel confident in this big new job to run the show, and not be run.

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ltownatrain 3 years, 4 months ago

I say just give the guy a chance because we all know Basketball kind of runs itself and the true test of this guy will be how he handles cleaning up the mess that Lew left him with like the ticket scandal and how he handles the Turner Gill situation if and say if Gill doesn't show improvement in the next 3-5 years (and I will say IF again so no one misreads what I'm saying)

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ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 4 months ago

He oversaw an annual fundraising campaign of 2.2 million (thanks d_p for the link) dollars . . .ummmmmm. . .yeah. . .we just had a alum buy two peices of old ass paper with some rules writen on them for 4.3 million just because he could. dude is going to be over his head from day one!

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kureader 3 years, 4 months ago

The guy has a strong resume. I'll look forward to learning more about him.

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ZDKC 3 years, 4 months ago

Why didn't we go for a big time name? I just don't understand. We don't really know how this guy is going to do, but really. Why risk it?

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Clarence Haynes 3 years, 4 months ago

Most of the comments above come from a bunch of ignorant idiots. The man worked 15 years at Notre Dame! I like his credentials and the level of succes everywhere he has been. Some of you really need to grow up!

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ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 4 months ago

Shhhhhh you didn't hear it from me but someone wrote an article not that long ago saying the search group was less than impressed with his interview.

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ltownatrain 3 years, 4 months ago

At least he has experience at a big time program such as Notre Dame. I mean KU could have done much much worse. Also for people saying WHO? keep in mind we are talking about an AD here not a football or basketball coach, they typically are behind the scenes and if you have heard about them it could be good or it could be very very bad also.

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Kent Wells 3 years, 4 months ago

Bubba. Nice. I mean his given name is perfect (Lawrence). But seriously, what Gomer, or Goober, or Cooter was busy pumping gas in Tulsa?

I guess we will find out if it is more than just a name...

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swunruh 3 years, 4 months ago

Coach Self was once at Tulsa... He's done fine. Bubba will too.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 4 months ago

I hope we did the smart thing and signed this unproven small college experienced leader to a long term contract with no buyout!

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Benjamin Piehler 3 years, 4 months ago

Hmmm maybe everyone saying we are headed for the mountain west were right.....

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ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 4 months ago

Kiss our major conference affiliation goodbye!

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king_dom 3 years, 4 months ago

Not the flashiest candidate but I think a good hire. Did some solid things down there in Tulsa!

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Benjamin Jones 3 years, 4 months ago

"Bubba"? Jethro wasn't available?

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beenahawk 3 years, 4 months ago

Think the fanbase might have seen this one coming...but thanks for the scoop.

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Dickless Head 3 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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LAJayhawk 3 years, 4 months ago

This comment board should be interesting....

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