Sunday, July 31, 2011

KU athletic director reviewing department’s 6-figure salaries



Kansas Athletics: Coaches and administrators contracts and salaries and the Lawrence Journal-World requested all of the contracts handed out to employees of Kansas Athletics before Sheahon Zenger was named athletic director in January of 2011.

A review of salaries at Kansas Athletics Inc. shows 36 of the top 42 administrators and coaches — 85 percent — are paid at least $100,000.

The information was obtained by the Journal-World in an open records request from Kansas University’s athletics department.

After his first six months at KU, Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger indicated he would evaluate, at least through the end of the school year, his department’s administrative pay and staffing.

Zenger has inherited nearly all of his current staff from Lew Perkins, who resigned as athletic director in September 2010.

“Like all else, that’s under review. You walk into a situation. You deal with the hand you’ve been dealt,” Zenger said. “You deal with people fairly, and you treat others as you want to be treated.”

Perkins is credited with growing KU’s athletics department budget significantly during his seven-year tenure, especially through ticket sales and contributions, which helped KU upgrade several facilities. KU’s financial records to the NCAA also show what the department spent on support staff and administration, excluding coaches, increased significantly as well, from $10.1 million in 2004-2005 to $16.27 million in 2009-2010, the most recent report available.

The department’s total operating expenses in that time increased from $40.76 million to $69.24 million, while revenue increased from $50.8 million to $70.5 million, according to the reports.

Big 12 comparisons

One snapshot comparison of KU’s budget information with other Big 12 universities suggests KU is spending more on administration and support staff than all other athletics departments — besides the University of Texas — according to a USA Today database that lists athletics department budget information that public universities provide to the NCAA.

According to the same report, for 2009-2010:

• Texas spent $25.1 million on administrative and support staff and $130.4 million overall.

• Kansas — $16.27 million, $69.24 million total.

• Oklahoma — $14.5 million, $87.7 million total.

• Texas A&M; — $14.2 million, $75.9 million overall.

• Missouri — $11.1 million, $61.8 million total.

• Oklahoma State — $8.5 million, $83.7 million overall.

• Kansas State — $8.8 million, $42.3 million total.

When asked if he were comfortable with the number of six-figure salaries in the department, Zenger said KU was in the upper half of the Big 12 but “not at the tip of the spear.”

The six athletics department employees making less than $100,000 in the recent Journal-World records request were all head coaches of nonrevenue sports. The department provided salaries and contract information, when applicable, for 11 head coaches, 16 assistant coaches in various sports and 12 administrators or department directors.

No imminent overhaul

Since he began work Feb. 1, Zenger, a Kansas native who Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little hired from Illinois State University, has spent most of his time evaluating the department and moved forward with much of the staff members who were in place when he arrived. But he has called KU’s last-place finish among Big 12 schools in the all-sport Director’s Cup standings “unacceptable.”

Still, he doesn’t plan to make imminent head coaching changes. He did give a four-year extension last month to softball coach Megan Smith, largely because she was courted by another university.

But Zenger has little financial room to remove any coaches, at least in the short-term, if he wants a change. Contracts provided to the Journal-World show Perkins signed three multi-year deals for three nonrevenue coaches and one extension for women’s soccer coach Mark Francis in 2010 just before or around the time he announced he was initially stepping down.

Zenger has no plans to overhaul the administrative staff heading into the school year. Earlier this year, Zenger hired Terry Mohajir as an associate athletic director to supervise the Williams Educational Fund and earlier this month named him senior associate athletic director for external relations. Former KU basketball player Greg Gurley was also hired as director of development for the Williams Fund.

They assume responsibilities previously held by Ben Kirtland and Rodney Jones, who both worked under Perkins and are now in federal prison after pleading guilty to taking part in a scheme with others to steal at least $2 million in ticket revenue from the university. Federal prosecutors later said there was no evidence Perkins knowingly participated in the scheme.

Last week, one of the final hires of the Perkins era, director of security Ron Olin, a retired Lawrence police chief, announced he would resign from the athletics department after evaluating KU’s internal controls, policies and procedures. Once he leaves, Olin could serve as a consultant on an as-needed basis. Zenger earlier had called it a unique position to an athletics department.

Zenger also said KU alumnus and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Gale Sayers, whom Perkins hired in October 2009 on a four-year contract at $150,000 a year as director of fundraising for special projects, is now working in an alumni relations role.

“We’ve found him to be very key in just being Gale Sayers in representing us in an exemplary fashion across the state of Kansas,” Zenger said.

‘It’s a process’

Jerry Bailey, KU’s faculty athletic representative who served a year as chairman of the Kansas Athletics Corp. board of directors, said he believed Zenger has done a “very smart thing” by taking his time to assess the department.

“You can’t figure out where you’re going if you don’t know where you are,” Bailey said.

Tim Caboni, KU’s vice chancellor for public affairs, said that when Gray-Little hired Zenger she did not give the new athletic director any directives on how he must manage his staff. Caboni also said Zenger has spent the last few months evaluating the department and meeting fans and donors, but now he’s closer to moving into a new phase, which he’s discussed with Gray-Little.

“Restructuring does not happen all at once,” Caboni said. “Most of the time it’s a process, not a moment in time.”

On personnel, Zenger has also talked about treating the employees fairly as he evaluates the department.

“I don’t believe you make knee-jerk reactions with regard to their futures,” Zenger said, “and the futures that eventually impact their families as well.”

One of the department’s major donors, Dana Anderson, whose family’s name is on the Anderson Family Football Complex next to Memorial Stadium, said many supporters want to see KU become competitive in football and other sports. He also said he was confident Zenger was looking at how much money KU spends on administration and support staff, compared with other universities, and how effective they’ve been.

But Anderson, a California businessman, said he also supported Zenger’s “more reasoned approach” to evaluate the department’s landscape.

“The fact that he hasn’t done anything dramatic,” Anderson said, “I think maybe that’s a good thing.”


ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 5 months ago

Remember this the next time you have to give a donation just to buy a parking pass for a football game.

TwistedFish31 10 years, 5 months ago

Waiting up every night to be the first person to post on a school's site that you hate. LOL! What a pathetic loser...

Jim Pendleton 10 years, 5 months ago

Only ahperse would be concerned about donations first when it comes to buying a parking pass. What you couldn't (or more likely wouldn't) get tickets for games here, so you worry about what your donation is to get a parking pass? Nice!

Of course since ahperse cares nothing about KU in the grand scheme of things, he can take his extra money saved from not making a donation, and go park in someone's yard a couple blocks away from the stadium for $5 or $10. Of course, his car will probably be boxed in, thus keeping him from getting out right away so he won't be able to get home for awhile to post something negative.

Ahperse, you need to take a look around major college sports. If you want good seats, and good parking, you must be a donor at one of these schools. Since this is something I doubt you have ever been, it creates the need for you to be a chronic complainer all the time. Rock Chalk!!

Kevin Studer 10 years, 5 months ago

Sorry, fellas, by ahperse has a legitimate complaint here. Given the athletic performance of KU's teams (outside of men's basketball), there is no reason on Earth that staff salaries should be near the top of the league. If they are going to bleed the fans out of money like this, they had better put it to some tangible use.

KEITHMILES05 10 years, 5 months ago

If you go to KUAC website you will see there are over 30 peope who have some form of "AD" beside their name. This is preposterous and needs to be thinned down. The huge salaries only reflected what Perkins saw in himself........untouchable. Hopefully Zenger will do the right thing and make this organization about the athletes and not fat salaried staff.

Marcia Parsons 10 years, 5 months ago

I think it sounds funny because they specify "athletics". It wouldn't be such a strange-sounding title if it was associate director for equipment operations (for the athletics department), but terribly cumbersome.

notigers4me 10 years, 5 months ago

It's always easy to spend other peoples money and until the donors demand accountability everything will always be the same.

blackhawkjayhawk 10 years, 5 months ago

What's the problem? 1 and 13 v. the Purple Plague. Last in the Director's Cup. But first in a bloated administration. We shouldn't be talking about minor trimming here and there, we should be talking big-time shake up.

As for coaches, anyone who has been here more than 4 years and doesn't finish in the top-half of the conference needs to be fired. And please don't respond that the AD's hands are tied by coaching contracts. There are only three contracts of any real value (FB, MBB, WBB). Everything else is edible.

blackhawkjayhawk 10 years, 5 months ago

And one more thing.....Chuck Woodling used to rail against the growing middle management thicket at KU while many of you on this board railed against Woodling. Excellence in performance can't be bought. It must be earned.

Funhawk 10 years, 5 months ago

Chuck Woodling was an excellent sports journalist, one of the best.

rob4lb 10 years, 5 months ago

No way KU's administrative expenses should be higher than OU and A&M. Missouri and OSU should be a good benchmark. It is a bit sickening to read when academic programs are being cut. And I know, no state funding goes to the Athletics Department, but it's all about perspective. I will continue to give my money to Engineering School and Chemistry Department.

HawkTronic 10 years, 5 months ago

It really gets ridiculous when you look at spending as a percentage of revenue: TX: 19% KU: 23% OU: 16% TAM: 18% MU: 17% OSU: 10% KSU: 20% (this seems to be money well-spent, since the 'Cats' only goal is to win against big brother).

Since it's clear we can't do more with more, let's try more with less. Oh, and most of those schools offer more sport opprotunities for atheltes (like men's swimming, tennis, wrestling, etc). I would imagine that getting rid of 3-4 Associate/Assistant AD's would allow swimming and tennis to come back.

kureader 10 years, 5 months ago

While most other organizations tightended their belts during the last 5 years, Perkins increased spending for administration by 60%. KU now spends $6 million more on administration than MU ... 50% more than MU.

Hopefully these high percentages won't be lost on Zenger. I'd take issue with his remark that KU is in the upper half, but not at the "tip of the spear".

He's smart enough not to play his cards during an interview with a sportswriter, and you can't criticize a first year AD for taking time to survey the situation. But, hopefully, he's also smart enough to be working hard on this issue. The article suggests that there are too many administrators with high salaries. That's not the primary issue. Merely cutting salaries doesn't fix this problem. There are too many administators period. Of course, our administrative staff was reduced when 5 of them went to prison. And, Zenger did eliminate a $100,000+ position when the "security consultant" retired recently, saying his job was completed. Somehow, I doubt that the security consultant vacated his $120,000 position because he decided his job was done. It was professionally handled by Zenger ... AND the security consultant. I'm bettting Zenger will eventually resolve this problem.

mikehawk 10 years, 5 months ago

It appears while he is "taking a reasonable approach" he recognizes changes have to be made and he is putting people on notice that the salary structures must change. He is doing the same with the coaching staffs across the program, giving notice he is going to be deliberate with changes coming based on performance. From a distance it looks like the department salaries are bloated. There are smart, talented people out there who would love to work for the KUAD making good money, yet below the current salary range. I like what I see and hear from Dr. Z, at least fromt he distance from which I sit.

quigley 10 years, 5 months ago

Bring me another Orange Bowl victory and pay them what they want... who frickin' cares. Bunch of cry babies.

Jeff Soisson 10 years, 4 months ago

Fire the AD!!!!!! idiot, look at these numbers, does anyone at this university have a clue? stop looking at salaries and grow the revenue?:

Who's Making Money In Big 12 Football?

Football Profit

University of Texas $68,830,484.00 University of Oklahoma $38,145,119.00 University of Nebraska $32,084,379.00 Texas A&M $25,315,630.00 Oklahoma State $17,308,088.00 University of Colorado $13,675,426.00 University of Missouri $11,618,417.00 Texas Tech $11,512,627.00 Iowa State $6,606,483.00 Kansas State $6,412,835.00 Baylor University $1,893,081.00 University of Kansas $1,614,926.00

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