Originally published September 7, 2010 at 01:41p.m., updated September 7, 2010 at 04:29p.m.

Lester ‘shocked’ by Perkins’ resignation

Sean Lester addresses the media at a press conference Tuesday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse. Lester was named interim athletics director after Lew Perkins resigned Tuesday morning.

Sean Lester addresses the media at a press conference Tuesday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse. Lester was named interim athletics director after Lew Perkins resigned Tuesday morning.



Lew Perkins retires

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KU's athletic director retired abruptly Tuesday afternoon. Perkins was involved in many changes in the department, good and bad.

Reader poll

How would you grade Lew Perkins' tenure at KU Athletics?

  • A 26% 1431 votes
  • B 31% 1719 votes
  • C 15% 824 votes
  • D 12% 681 votes
  • F 14% 779 votes

5434 total votes.


Athletic Director Lew Perkins

KU Athletic Director led the Kansas Athletic Department for seven years and retired on Sept. 7, 2010. Look back at his time at KU.

Lew Perkins will retire from his position as Kansas University’s athletics director effective immediately, according to a release from KU.

“There is no question that Kansas Athletics has benefited from Lew Perkins’ leadership,” said KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little in the release. “One need only look at the academic success of our student-athletes, at KU’s trophy cases and at our state-of-the art athletic facilities to see those benefits. I appreciate his service and understand his decision.”

Perkins had previously announced he would retire next September. Sean Lester, an associate athletics director, has been named interim athletics director.

In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Lester said he was shocked by Perkins' resignation and that he only found out about the situation Tuesday morning.

Men's basketball coach Bill Self told the press he heard the news when the chancellor called him Tuesday morning. He then called Perkins who confirmed the news.

Self said there is a plan in place to find a new athletics director, and that he would be happy to give his input during the process.

"I want someone to come in here and love this place as much as we love it, and to be able to sell it and have a passion about it," Self said.

Lester spent eight years as a senior administrator under Perkins at the University of Connecticut before coming to KU in 2003 — the same year Perkins became athletics director.

As part of a retirement agreement, Perkins will receive an amount equivalent to his salary through the end of his employment, which was otherwise set for Sept. 4, 2011.

All told, Kansas Athletics will pay Perkins $2 million before taxes following today’s announcement.

That figure includes payment for a retention bonus due to Perkins if he were still employed on June 30, 2011.

No taxpayer money or tuition dollars will be used.

He said the decision would allow him to stay involved in the Lawrence community in different ways, and allow him to explore other professional opportunities.

“I am grateful that Chancellor Hemenway allowed Gwen and me to come to Lawrence to be part of the great university,” Perkins said in the release. “We love this community; we consider it home.”

Check back with for updates.


JayhawkBigXII 3 years, 7 months ago

Actually, Self would make a good AD. An administrator with coaching skills. But I'm sure he wouldn't want the job, at least right now. He makes tons more more money right where he is. Let's hope he stays at Kansas till the ripe old age of someday becoming a Kansas AD.


mememe 3 years, 7 months ago

Gray-Little finally gives hope of an iron hand inside her velvet glove. However, the reasoning behind appointing Sean Lester, the man to whom the Williams Fund, Ticket Office, and Business Office report gives one pause on Gray-Little's knowledge of the athletic deparment. Her lack of knowledge became apparent when Bill Self led the press conference regarding an administrative issue. Self is a coach - not an administrator - was he simply flexing his overdeveloped ego with a thought to becoming both? No doubt he's a good coach, but an athletic director he is not. We can only hope Gray-Little will spend a little more time doing her research.


mcontrary 3 years, 7 months ago

Please, will he take Gil with him?


Mike Nicco 3 years, 7 months ago

What more proof do you need that we are a basketball school. Bill Self is the face of our AD's resignation conference.


Nick Cole 3 years, 7 months ago

Maybe the new AD will get rid of that ugly track inside the football stadium and bring back the carnival style font. Dreaming.


phi4life940 3 years, 7 months ago

Just read sands is possibly out with a knee injury for this weekends game...opportunity for TO!?!?!? I think so!


swunruh 3 years, 7 months ago

Bill is wearing an orange shirt... Is that a sign to T Boone? Is Self next to depart?


97jhawk 3 years, 7 months ago

Lester looks like he's been hanging out with Snooki or at least taking advice on spray tanning. Maybe he's not hip to Obama's tax increase on real tanning like his queen of the

Dude is looking a bit oompa loompa-ish. The blaze from Self's OSU-like polo probably doesn't lend itself to kindness on Lester's orangeness either.


jaybate 3 years, 7 months ago

Part III

As it says in Ecclesiastes, and as Pete Seeger put it down into music, and as The Byrds electrified it...

1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, (note: or is that sew and reap?)

3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

For Chancellor Bernie, its a time to throw the stone that is Lew away. For Lew lovers, its a time to weep. For Lew haters, its a time to dance. For Lew, himself, it was a time to build, and now it is a time to heal. For Bob Hemenway, it apparently remains a time to be silent. For Bill Self, it remains a time to build, but it could quickly become a time tear down.

"OOOOOKlahoma, where the Thunder can really make it rain..."

From the Bible to Broadway and back again...

One thing Ecclesiastes does not mention, explicitly is "bureaucratic stasis."

For KU, the institution, the Father of All Basketball Programs, unless there is some kind of miracle in the offing, it may now be a time to stand pat and coast, as all bureaucracies so prefer to do.

Bill Self will not want to do this.

Chancellor Bernie, given the nature of bureaucracies and bureaucrats, probably will.

And a couple years from now, ay, there's the rub.

Perhaps Lew might do for KU basketball in the background, what Dean Smith did for Baja KU basketball after Smith retired. Perhaps.

But probably not.

I fear, Lew, that you were not with us long enough for that sort of power.

How I hope I am wrong this time.

How I hope the tendencies I have observed in so many other bureaucracies do not play out in my beloved KU.

Chancellor Bernie, who appears a caretaker type, is the key to avoiding the dreary scenario I have foreshadowed.

Chancellor Bernie is the person who could alter the whole bureaucratic inertia away from the dismal direction I have called attention to.

Individuals can make a difference, especially individuals that the establishment underestimates.

Rock Chalk, Chancellor Bernie!

Fight the stasis.

Take KU and KU sports to the next level.

Resist the easy path to stasis.

"He (or she) not busy being born is busy dying." --Robert Zimmerman


kualuminohio 3 years, 7 months ago

I remember listening to him speak during the big 12 mess a couple of months ago, he sounded like a total fool, could hardly speak. I thought "this is our AD, are you serious". As the scandals broke and more things came to light, his value diminished greatly. But for me it was the Mangino witch hunt. This was absolutely rediculous and unacceptable. It was time for the chancellor to step up and take control from this idiot. Now she can put in place a proper athletic department. Perkins was bad news folks, I am not being a hater, his actions have proven so.


jaybate 3 years, 7 months ago

Part II

In a bureaucracy, doing nothing is the prime directive: it is the purpose of the organization and of the parasites that administrate it during its long do-nothing phases.

In bureaucratic speak, round elbows equal long timers.

Sharp elbows equal short timers. An utterly pleasant, but utterly manageable AD will now be hired, regardless of whether he/she will be popular, or not. No more sports infrastructure development will occur for quite some time. A new status quo has just set in and Lew is being jettisoned to help it congeal and harden into a do-nothing, maintenance mode.

"''Cause I'm a bu, bu, bureaucrat/ Up on Lawrence on the Kaw..."

How do we know this?

Because Lew's assistant, Lester, is not even being considered as his replacement.

(Note: though a good bureaucrat reading this post would instantly correct this political boo boo by disingenuously saying that Lester was among those being considered.)

How else do we know this?

Marchiony's not being "considered" either.

Lester, especially, is stained with the reputation of a doer. Unless he is very bureaucratically saavy, or unless Lew takes him with him to Lew's new gig, Lester will be gone shortly, or marginalized into oblivion in the KUAD bureacracy. Lew probably has a new gig lined up, though what I haven't a clue. Lester will probably join him.

In turn, KU will probably get a do-nothing AD.

KUAD will probably coast until Self leaves; then there will be a crisis of leadership requiring a doer to solve it. I love Chancellor Bernie, because she's apparently feisty and bureaucratically clever, and a believer in playing by at least some basic rules, but she just does appear to be a significantly under-qualified caretaker type (however talented she probably in fact is) hired to be chancellor and not a mover and shaker in her own right. Perhaps Hemenway felt he had to make sure KU hired such a chancellor to ensure no blow back in the wake of his exit. Any budget-expanding, former chancellor of OU and UK might have mastered the art of exit strategy and wake clearing by the time Hemenway stepped down at KU. But I digress.

The point is: when the crisis of Self's departure finally arrives, it will probably be managed by a chancellor with certain characteristics of a caretaker type and the kind of AD a caretaker type Chancellor might hope to be in place at KUAD. This will, in turn, probably precipitate a mediocre hire for the next KU basketball coach--an inoffensive coach who incurs the least wrath among the various axes of alumni power.

KU basketball will likely suffer through some decline.

The next window of opportunity for substantial progress in personnel and sports infrastructure for KU sports and KU basketball in particular, will probably not come until the University power brokers decide they need a big time chancellor to lead KU into its next developmental phase.


jaybate 3 years, 7 months ago

Part I

"A Time to Stand Pat, a Time to Coast"

Some board rats may need new prescription lenses.

IMHO, many are not reading this one clearly.

Lew was probably a gonner from the moment the exercise equipment got referred to the state ethics board.

In hindsight, the plan apparently was to:

a) buy some time to let things cool down;

b) give Lew time to get another gig set up;

c) get the next seasons started, so the games would distract some from his departure;

d) promise to give him all the dough, when he got another gig and announced his departure; and

e) let his lawyers try to hang onto the dough once the ethics board finds against him, if it would.

Either way, this was Operation Move-On with everyone hoping to get as little legal egg on anyone's faces as possible.

The only uncertainty is whether all the Federal investigations and NCAA investigations have turned up something else.

No one in a new career can risk serious blow back for anyone nearing the end of theirs. Its the harsh reality of business life that no one ever likes to talk about. The old at the ends of careers are sacrificed by the young, albeit with kind words and a check that the law may or may not let them cash, just as the old, at the zeniths of their careers, ruthlessly sacrifice the young to stay on top as long as they can.

This is the reality of hierarchical competition in bureacracies small and large.

Still, Lew Perkins appears to have done a good job for KU, maybe a great job, if one were really into fund raising and building (and not architecture and internal accounting controls), but bottom line the still relatively new Chancellor probably wanted her own man, once there was the least hint of scandal.

Lew was a doer.

And in bureaucracy, even less doing than truth telling is required.

If a little truth goes a long way in a bureaucracy, doing even the tiniest thing shakes the bureaucracy to its status quo loving foundations.

Once Lew raised prices and threw up the bricks and mortar, then like a general at the end of a rough and tumble military campaign that lesser generals avoided, the civilian leadership dumps him ASAP, because politics of maintaining the status quo, not doing something, reassert primacy.

Let's be honest.


Janet Scott 3 years, 7 months ago

Lew is gone because the high end Williams Fund donors will no longer tolerate the national embarrassment that the KU Athletic Department has become. I'm sure these folks have made their voices loud and clear to Bern Gray-Little. Accomplished and successful people who are philanthropy-driven to the level of near millions in giving will never accept that their giving be associated with benefactors who exhibit near constant ethics lapses and shocking behavioral shortcomings - and regrettably that is just how the KU Athletics Department can be defined over the past year.


stravinsky 3 years, 7 months ago

"That figure includes payment for a retention bonus due to Perkins if he were still employed on June 30, 2011."

How the hell does that make sense? He gets a retention bonus... when he's not being retained?

Lew did his job (being a cutthroat CEO) pretty dang well. Financial figures DRASTICALLY improved, facilities were improved, and KAI, even despite the recent black eyes, is a much more profitable enterprise than it was before Lew got here.

Blaming Lew for on-the-field troubles is like blaming Obama because your car won't start. It's idiotic. It'll take a lot more time before we can adequately assess Gill (obviously, the first game, uh, didn't go too well. And by that I mean was beyond embarrassing). But overall, KU Athletics is doing better than it was when Lew got here, and he deserves to be assessed from that perspective.


FreddyinLA 3 years, 7 months ago

Finally got the kingpin of the Lawrence mafia formally known as the Kansas Athletic department. Now we can get rid of the cop recently hired, and the women’s intramurals basketball coach. The cronies he was bringing in at twice what they were worth should all be fired immediately. Hopefully the district attorney of Kansas will sue that pile to get our money back for his travel expenses.

The men’s basketball team was the only one to win a regular season title under that tool. Nice record.


lathamhawk 3 years, 7 months ago

Sorry, never liked Perkins. After what he did to Wichita State just as we were making headway with Coach Chismar, he shut down the funding for football. Not much of a fund raiser then, I think. I have never forgave him for that.


Brennan Keller 3 years, 7 months ago

i hate seeing lew go!!! I have a feeling it will be similar to Marc Mangino leaving. We're happy at first, but once things get going, we will regret him leaving. Thank you Lew Perkins for all that you have done for the University of Kansas throughout your time here!


atexasjhawk 3 years, 7 months ago

Hmm... I wonder if this has anything to do with the events of last Saturday evening.


kureader 3 years, 7 months ago

So who's in charge ... Bill Self? Where's the Chancellor? Maybe this isn't your favorite part of the job, Chancellor, but you need to do it anyway. You don't delegate a press conference to Perkins' underlings ... Take charge woman! This is why you get the big bucks!


jvinland 3 years, 7 months ago

The Perkins' witch hunt had much to do with Mangino's seven straight loss. The timing of that witch hunt and the time it took hire a new coach destroyed of the 2009 recruiting. All of us including Turrner Gill and his team will have to pay the price for error in Perkins' judgment.


Aligned 3 years, 7 months ago

He's leaving early because they're giving him two large for not working another year. What can't you people understand about that?


JayhawkBigXII 3 years, 7 months ago

Lew is leaving early because he knows Gill is going to stink up the joint, and it's drifting back on him. Getting a couple million extra to add to his fat bank account doesn't hurt either. Come to think of it, it does look like he's wearing handcuffs in that photo!


Benjamin Piehler 3 years, 7 months ago

good ol lou, staying just long enough to walk away with 2 million extra of the school's dollars... i don't like him, but he was good at raising money (and spending it).


coolsportsdad 3 years, 7 months ago

Interesting that it's appears lew's already got the handcuffs on in that photo!


Ray March 3 years, 7 months ago

good riddance! i'm glad the money grubbing tool is gone. now we just need to get rid of all his sleeze bag assistants like Jim Marchiony.


GoodwinK 3 years, 7 months ago

let's not give this guy more credit than he deserves...he didn't hire self or mangino. turner gill is his only major-hire as AD and we've all seen how that is shaping up


live4h2o 3 years, 7 months ago

Cue indictment and/or disclosure of additional ethics violations/misconduct.


KU_FanSince75 3 years, 7 months ago

Wow! Perkins goes bye, bye! I wonder what Turner Gill is thinking right now. He's probably thinking my dream job is going up smoke if I don't start winning games on the hill. You have to admit, this has been a "roller coaster ride" ever since the scandals, the seven-game losing streak from last season, Mangino's treatment of players, etc., etc. Now, you turn the page and you have the chapter on Turner Gill chapter---unbelievable!


mulaza 3 years, 7 months ago

Worst case senario. the NCAA found something about basketball while investigating Shelby


Shawn Mansfield 3 years, 7 months ago

sounds like everybody would rather have Lew's predecessor back. I, for one, have liked the job he did, with the exception of the last year or so, and I reserve the right to change my opinion on this as obviously more will come out about the ticket scandal.

I don't live in Lawrence/KC area so don't have many rival fans jawing about this to me, so I'm less affected by what some idiot KSU or MU fan has to say about it, nor does it require me to defend my alma mater.

Lastly, while Lew didn't hire Mangino, he could have easily fired him since he really didn't produce a good season until 2005, and since he wasn't "his guy" nobody would have blamed him. Mangino has to take blame for his firing too, he wasn't an angel. The money Lew's brought in and the upgrade in facilities is critical in both money-making sports, so while he's had some negatives, he's left the program in a better place than his predecessor.


Andrew Moore 3 years, 7 months ago

Kevin Pritchard? or is he too busy in the NBA?


mulaza 3 years, 7 months ago

Sounds like someone doesn't want to take the heat over a recent football hire


sportjunky 3 years, 7 months ago

Lew Perkins did some excellent work during his active tenure at KU. Personally, I appreciate that work and I wish him well. It's sad that it ends on some sour notes, but, Lew, I do sincerely wish you well. Thanks for all that you have done for KU!

Most on this board disagree with me (at least of those who actually post things), and there will be plenty who voice their opinions to contradict my claims that he did good work at KU. I choose to look at the entire picture, and it is a pretty good picture overall. That men's bball championship happened during Lew's watch, the changes in seating at the Fieldhouse happened under Lew, and a 12-1 football team with a victory in the Orange Bowl happened under Lew. Student athlete graduation rates went up under Lew. This list could go on and on, but the haters will have a counterpoint to everything, so it is pointless to try to go further.

Good luck Lew!!


SCHNBALL 3 years, 7 months ago

Will the next name b R Morningstar


KU_Alumn_2000 3 years, 7 months ago

Bring mangino back...please Mangino come back !!!!


MyName 3 years, 7 months ago

The main thing is to make sure to hire someone who knows how to navigate the large number of byzantine NCAA rules and regulations


gchawk 3 years, 7 months ago

And the hits just keep on coming. I suppose I am a little surprised with Perkins' exit, I always figured he rather be a part of the fight rather than run from one. While Lou did in fact do some good things at KU, the past couple of years he truly alienated a lot of people by his arrogance and narcissitic attitude. At this point and time, I can't say that I'm very impressed with Gray-Little, maybe I'm just anti hyphen !!


GoodwinK 3 years, 7 months ago

Lew built us up to fall hard. good riddance. hopefully whoever takes over can get us into a BCS conference!


jayhawk2062 3 years, 7 months ago

I appreciate Lew. And I would hope that people would take a look back at where Kansas was prior to Lew and where we are now. Our budget is respectable, our facilities were in a shambles and now most of our facilities, especially in revenue producing sports are top notch. Student athlete GPA's have been the highest on record. Attendance has been the best EVER for football. We are getting football recruits we never would have before because of the facilities.

We got to the point where a 7 game losing streak got a coach fired because he gave the coaches the tools to improve the program! Football matters at this school again......unfortunately I think his two biggest disappointments will be Turner Gill and of course Bonnie. Those two hires are going to define him. I was at the game on Saturday and there were 48,000 restless, frustrated, and bored people in the stands. To go from average 30 or 40 points a game the past three or four years to putting up 3.....could be a long season.


billhawk 3 years, 7 months ago

Perkins has been a mixed bag that's for sure. A national championship in basketball, an orange bowl victory and new facilities on the plus side. However, it could be debated if either of those on-field achievements were at all due to his efforts. I'll give him full credit for the new and upgraded facilities however. On the negative side, the scandals, the hires (thus far), and what seems to surely be another shoe to drop after this announcement have been almost directly due to his influence. All in all, after paying him millions, it sure seems like the scale is tilted toward the negative.


jtjhawk 3 years, 7 months ago

I hope they move quickly on Turner if the team continues to stink. It is not like he had to totally rebuild the program. The fatman did a decent job of reruiting. The new AD will have some difficult work to do soon.


whats_going_on 3 years, 7 months ago

lol, he probably is like yah...see ya. He's still getting paid to go into retirement, don't forget.


KSA_21_3503 3 years, 7 months ago

Fire Gray-Little, aka Ed Smith.


mobyrock 3 years, 7 months ago

I know I'll take some heat, because the Lew Perkins haters are thick on these boards. However, Perkins did some great things for Kansas. Let's not lose sight of that. Yes, under his watch, there have been far too many embarrassing moments for KU, and that, I imagine, is a large piece of why he is out the door. But let's keep our dignity (by keeping his) and discharge him, honorably.


caribhawk 3 years, 7 months ago

Talk about someone coming in with a bang and leaving with a WHIMPER! His last 3 acts were the ticket scandal, excessive travel costs, and turning KU football into a powder puff again. He gets the last laugh getting all the salary and bonuses as if he were here until next September....I assume, like everyone, the biggest shoe is yet to fall that could really land KU in some big trouble. Sure you can celebrate his successes, but a real leader does not have the negatives that will punctuate Lew's career at KU. Of his two hires, Bonnie is a flop, and Turner got off to perhaps the worst loss in KU football history in a long time, and that says a lot!


RockChalk26 3 years, 7 months ago

Bye Lew, and thanks for firing Mangino. That was the worst decision ever. We go from being nationally ranked to getting beat by NDSU.


Maracas 3 years, 7 months ago

I hope they don't promote someone from within. I truly don't. The culture of this athletic department needs to be stamped out. And Lester is a dbag.


Dyrk Dugan 3 years, 7 months ago

thank goodness! finally some guts shown at the University of Kansas! too much money, but since we're wallowing in it, why NOT buy him off?

it's a case of thanks Lew for coming here, but you became arrogant, and totally ineffective the last couple of years......and that ticket scandal was a disgrace. good luck and good riddance!


jhawk23 3 years, 7 months ago

Maybe KU has become privy to the state employee ethics violation investigation report/finding?


woodfly33 3 years, 7 months ago

counting the days until the DA releases new information


Mike Joseph 3 years, 7 months ago

Got a feeling more is going to come out after this announcement. The '10-'11 school year isn't starting out well, what with the egg laid Saturday night and the NCAA holding up our freshman guard in hoops.

Good luck BGL finding a replacement.


KEITHMILES05 3 years, 7 months ago

Gray-Little finally forcing his hand and showing him the door.


FinalFinal 3 years, 7 months ago

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


ksangel1 3 years, 7 months ago

Miracles do happen!!!! Thank you Lou! Good-bye! The only civil thing to do now, is leave without any pay.


Carter Patterson 3 years, 7 months ago

Wow....Tom Keegan has a crystal ball.


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