Thursday, March 17, 2011

Open letter to Jayhawk Nation from KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger


I have been the Athletics Director at the University of Kansas for just a short time, but I truly feel like I have been a part of the KU family for much longer than that.

My mind has wandered these last few weeks back to the years I spent as a youth in Lawrence. My earliest and fondest memories involve rooting on the Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse and Memorial Stadium. I will be forever grateful to former KU Chancellor Gene Budig, who convinced me in the early ‘90s to pursue a Ph.D. in Lawrence. That allowed me to work with great educators like Ed Meyen, Del Shankel and countless others. I experienced first-hand the greatness of KU. Now, as we settle in for March Madness, I cannot help but pause and convey to you my humble thanks and pride that Chancellor Gray-Little selected me to be a part of all of this.

Over the last several weeks we have watched with delight and wonder as Coach Bill Self’s basketball team stormed back from two games behind to win the Big 12 Conference regular-season title outright. That’s an amazing seven straight championships — an unheard of feat in today’s world of the “power conferences.”

We watched with pride as the Jayhawks avenged their in-season loss to Texas, defeating the Longhorns in the Big 12 Championship final. That’s four of the last five Big 12 tournament titles the Jayhawks have won — another terrific feat.

Then we watched as the NCAA Basketball Committee validated KU’s outstanding season by awarding the team a No. 1 seed — the fourth time in the last five seasons that Coach Self and his staff have led their teams to that distinction. (We should all take time to appreciate the enormity of that accomplishment! In this era of outstanding players leaving college early to play professionally, the best college basketball staff in America has successfully maintained KU among the most elite of college programs.)

We should all be proud of our student-athletes, who have overcome the ultimate emotional adversity this season en route to yet another Big 12 Championship. The way the team and the entire Jayhawk Nation surrounded Thomas Robinson’s family was inspiring. And, having lost three players from last year’s squad to the NBA, who could rightfully have expected the kind of season we’ve witnessed? It happened because of the dedication, pride and focus displayed by these terrific student-athletes.

With the regular- and conference-tournament seasons behind us, we turn our attention to the third season — the Championship season. This is KU’s 40th appearance in the NCAA Championship and 22nd in a row. No other program in America is currently riding such a streak.

Nothing for me can compare to the breathtaking history and tradition of Kansas basketball, and I am honored that I can now enjoy this experience as part of the KU family. As we traveled throughout the state of Kansas in recent weeks, I was repeatedly reminded of the great love and passion that our fans feel for KU and the Jayhawks. Now, as we head to Tulsa and hopefully beyond, I look forward to many more reminders.

So let’s enjoy the journey together. Go Hawks!

Rock Chalk!

Sheahon Zenger


Mike Bratisax 3 years, 1 month ago

Glad you are here Sheahon Zenger!!


Mike Bratisax 3 years, 1 month ago

Glad you are here Sheahon Zenger!!


Mike Crosbie 3 years, 1 month ago

An AD that reaches out to Jayhawk Nation....that's a '91 alumni I like it.....if only Lew did that during his power struggle with Mangino....wishing you the best in using your enthusiasm to keep KU on top !!! Rock Chalk !!!


William Blake 3 years, 1 month ago

Can you really believe anything a guy named "Sheahon" says on St. Pat's Day?

; )

But seriously... so far I really like his style. He doesn't come across as a high-brow and that goes over well in the state of Kansas. I have a feeling he's a keeper and will be with us for a long, long time!

Rock Chalk, Sheahon!


Keith Hummel 3 years, 1 month ago

Great letter. First class. Awesome way to start off a big day. As others have said, I don't recall ever seeing something like this from the previous AD. I couldn't be happier to have you leading the Athletic Dept. Dr Zenger. Keep up the good work.


jayhawklawrence 3 years, 1 month ago

I appreciate what Mr. Zenger has done by writing this letter and I am confident that 95% or the Jayhawk Nation will understand and appreciate it also.

We need to change the image of our athletics department and what better time to do it.

Let's focus on the positives and appreciate these incredible student athletes and coaches.


Enoughsaid 3 years, 1 month ago

March Madness I would bet at Laird Noller Ford/Mercury is called March Green Dollars. As they have decided that certain persons in the Athletic Department have a Noller dealership vehicle with a Kansas dealer tag. All in violation of KSA 8-2406, which governs the use of dealer tags.

As some of you might know for years the KU Athletic Department has a program called the Wheel Club. Area (KC) new car dealerships sell new cars to the Athletic Department for a dollar and after four thousand miles or so buy the vehicle back for a dollar. In return the car dealership get preferred treatment when buying football/basketball tickets, team signed merchandise and invited to a golf tournament.

Certain car dealerships have decided to take this a step forward and allow certain members (not all) of the Athletic Department to use their Kansas or Missouri dealer tag license plate for an extended amount of time. This is a direct violation of 8-2406.

An official with Laird Noller told me the reason they allow the use of dealer tags is so that when they get the vehicle back, the vehicle can be sold as a demonstrator and not a used car as the vehicle was never titled. I was further told by the official that Kansas changed the law and they can do this. I advised the person he needed to read the statue.

If you go to the basement southwest corner of the Allen Fieldhouse parking garage, you will find a Lincoln Navigator parked in private stall AFH 2. This vehicle has dealer license plate D-45-S belonging to Coach Self. If KU wins the tournament, this vehicle will be sold by Laird Noller for big big bucks.

Over the year I've written down the following dealer tags I have witnessed parked in lots #57/#70 at Allen Fieldhouse and Memorial Stadium. Missouri: D956-CG,D956-CK, D36-DZ, D23-GK, D36-EM. Kansas: D334-N, D334-K, D334-J, D3334-X, D42-D, D42-AJ, D334-X, D42-AJ, D45-S, D394-H, D334-F.

If this is all on the up and up, why doesn't Turner Gill Laird Noller vehicle run a dealer tag? Gill's vehicle is parked in a very public parking spot right across from the Anderson Sport Complex. I've noticed that certain members of Gill's staff have been backing their vehicles into stall or parking further down the lot. I would bet this is a disguise to hide the dealer tags they have on their vehicle.

When I complain about the use of dealer tags by certain Athletic Department personnel. I'm told its the Athletic Department and it has been going on for decades. So the next time you purchase a vehicle from a car dealership and they are a member of the Wheel Club and allow the use of their dealer license plate. Say, one want one of those dealer tags so I don't have to pay any taxes nor register my vehicle and I'll trade it in with-in a year for a dollar.


REHawk 3 years, 1 month ago

Style be all smiles. Rock Chalk, Hawks! Stomp Dukie V and all irreverent naysayers into the merry hardwood planks of OK and TX venues.


Joe Ross 3 years, 1 month ago

We interrupt March Madness to bring you another jaybate interlude. (Cue sleepy elevator music.) yawn

After another few hours of reading, we will return you to your normal programming (...hopefully in time for the KU game).


jaybate 3 years, 1 month ago


One tip about posting here. You've got to develop a style. We've got more stylin' board rats here than you can shake a shamrock at.


jaybate 3 years, 1 month ago

"Some Ways You Know Sheahon Is All KU"

~Wears crimson and blue shamrock tie on St. Patty's Day.

~Held ritual Longhorn gelding before last Texas game.

~Told Dickie V to "kiss my Irish you know what for that pre-season prediction of yours, you bald-headed bag of polenta."

~Has a front door mat with Norm Stewart's face on it.

~Once each days says, "Hail Mary and thank you Lew for all the infrastructure."

~Has said repeatedly that he will give anyone nose bleed seats that tries to keep the Naismith Rules from being displayed in Allen Field House.

~Has a speed bag with a picture of Coach Consonants on it in his office.

~Playfully praises Frank Martin for being the best former hit man ever to coach D1 basketball.

~Wears a T-shirt the week of K-State games that reads "K-State Is Great, If You Like Manure on a Plate."

~Praises K-State publicly, but admits in private that he would rather have his shins planed than spend a day in Manhattan.

~On a college scavenger hunt, once stole one of the columns in Columbia with a rented crane and dumped it in the Missouri River.

~Once hummed the Rock Chalk chant during foreplay.

~Often calls Dr. Tom Osborne "that albino with an online Ph.d."

~Says he will make money available for Self to hire Janks back, if new Illinois State AD has a petite mal and fires Janks after one bad season.

~Admits one of his major qualifications for the job was his bilingual fluency in English and Oklaguese, which helps him communicate with Coach Self.

~Let Chancellor Bernie win at arm wrestling in the first job interview, then took the job even after she beat him fair and square in the last interview.

~Working behind the scenes to raise funds for a mobile Larry Brown statue that keeps getting restless and moving around the Hall of Fame.

~Knows KU Memorial Stadium is still the greatest football venue never to have had a National Champion in college football and intends to fix that by lighting a peet fire under Turner Gill (Sheahon's ancestors cut and burned peet for heat in County Cork before emigrating to Kansas and burning buffalo chips for heat in a soddy).

~Has offered to buy Cin the Hope Diamond, if she will convince Bill to stay at KU till 65.

~Believes eclipses of the sun, or moon, are signs KU is about to beat Fizzou by over 30 points.

~Wants to build bridges with KSU, but burn MU to the ground.

~Calls MU "Fizzou" even during confession.

Rock Chalk, Sheahon! Get an alias and join us! No one here will tell Chancellor Bernie you're posting on company time.

Note: All fiction. No malice.


Bear86 3 years, 1 month ago

Like many Alumni we are touched by your statement. It's great to be a part of the Jayhawk nation. Now please do us a favor and get us out of this Texas ran conference. Do what is best for the University of Kansas. We should not be any one's little sister. F-Texas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Ron Franklin 3 years, 1 month ago

In my opinion, and experience, KU is the more prestigous of the two schools. My educators at KU were better and more profound than those I had at KSU. I feel that I got more for my money at the University of Kansas.

KU is my first school at heart & attendance & I've never cheered for the Wildcats over the Jayhawks. But, I have always cheered for the Wildcats over every other team.

They both have their strengths and weaknesses, especially considering the diverse cultures and lifestyles that can be found here in Kansas and throughout the midwest.

In a stereotypical sense, the city-slickers tend to flock to KU while the Farm Boys go to KSU. In reality, this is just is not true. I tailgated, I was (am) a member of fraternities, both socially & scholastically, went to house parties, and lived on and off campus. I've partied on Massachussetts and in Aggieville.

All this being said, I continue to be amazed at how being a fanatic of one athletic program over another can fog one's vision of what each education institution is, and offers on its educational merit alone.

Kansas State is a good school. Maybe KU is better. It is in my opinion. There are thousands of great people on both campuses. But I have resolved to inner laughter when I come across ideaologies of the two schools that are solely based upon which team we root for. It's truly a joke to make judgements about anything when the only insight is based on school rivalry. Isn't this judgement merely 'skin deep'?

I'm sure I"m in the minority here, but I've never understood the rivalry that exists beyond the hardwood and terf. I'm fine with that. I'm proud that I've spent time on both campuses & made friends in both locales. Afterall, many of us are all Kansans & Midwestern Folk, separated by less than most of us will ever admit.


wyansas 3 years, 1 month ago

It would be nice to get the women's program somewhat up to speed. Duke and Carolina did it.


milehighhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

Nice note.

Not going to make a snide comment about the women's team, but I think it is very, very telling that he didn't mention them at all. I expected to see a sentence or two saying 'nice work on the postseason' or something to that effect - the fact that he didn't include something like that makes me think he is not satisfied with the performance, and it's simply a matter of time before we see a regime change.


ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 1 month ago

sounds like a guy trying to justifiy his position. mix in some childhood memories, name drop a few professors, and maybe jayhawk nation will forget that i am totally under qualified for the postition.

i'm sure most of you will hit me with the "troll" response but before you do google Hancock (giggity) Stadium and tell me how his previous experience brings something to the big12 table.


Kye Clark 3 years, 1 month ago

Anybody else's CBS going schizo right now? Try blaming this one on sunspots CBS!


slowplay 3 years, 1 month ago

A well thought out, humbling tribute to KU's legacy. I did notice that although the women's team is still playing in WNIT, nothing was mentioned.


dynamitehawk 3 years, 1 month ago

An open letter to Sheahon Zenger:

I love the commentary. In fact, you are spot on with regard to Bill Self. Now that you have narrated another great season, please execute a plan to retain Bill Self and pay him what he's worth - indefinitely. Johnny the Squid is making more. Also, conference realignment should be on your radar. Just sayin'.

Thanks for the note.



RockCaCO3 3 years, 1 month ago

Nice letter. I dont remember anything like that from whatshisface.


Jabberhawky 3 years, 1 month ago

A very nice letter from the new AD -- save for one glaring omission.

For the second year in a row, the KU men's basketball team earned a perfect score (1000) on the NCAA Academic Progress Rate.

Under Self, the 'hawks have been excellent on the court AND in the classroom.

Everybody knows the former -- too few are aware of the latter. It deserves mention.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk, beat BU!


Woody Cragg 3 years, 1 month ago

One question...why did you apply for the AD's jpb in Manhattan? We deserve a straightforth answer & not some political, BS, digression?


kusayzone 3 years, 1 month ago

His message was "enjoy the ride". So just do that! Why the bashing...wait...could we smell a troll or two??


phog 3 years, 1 month ago

NO college can be considered a basketball powerhouse without men AND women teams that are top tier.

sooooooooooooooooooooooooory ku !


hawk_2011 3 years, 1 month ago

nice to see a letter from the Athletic Director. I thought the letter was written in a thoughtful and heartfelt.


NebraskaJayhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

Sorry....but nobody watches or cares about women's basketball besides the parents. I know that's terrible to say, but it's true.


Scruggsy 3 years, 1 month ago

Absoluely well said! Consider the Big 12 dominated! That should always be the priority. The Final Four runs will be there- but the Big 12 domination is what should make us all the most proud. Braggin' rights anyone?


Carter Patterson 3 years, 1 month ago

Thank you Dr. Z ! Welcome back to Lawrence. You have a lot of work to do and I'm confident that the team that selected you picked the right guy.


KGphoto 3 years, 1 month ago

That's great. Now let's get the women's team here too.

Breathtaking basketball tradition should include the third most popular college sport in America, women's basketball. March Madness could be so much more fun if they were mentioned in your future letters. Right?


Mary Darst 3 years, 1 month ago

njjayhawk.....Why couldn't you just say "Thank-you" to the new guy. He was really sounding so sincere. Ever see anything like that from the other guy? Don't be rude.


Pwnage 3 years, 1 month ago

The post-script says:

"I can get you tickets to the game for $125,000 a seat!"

The most corrupt athletic department in the Big 12. Something to be proud of!


Janet Scott 3 years, 1 month ago

Surely there is a PS to Dr. Zenger's letter, with PS saying something like this: "On the other hand, the Jayhawk women's basketball program under Bonnie Henrickson is a frickn disgrace to Jayhawk Nation. After the WNIT, Bonnie will flipping burgers full time at the local Popeyes here in Lawrence. I've already purchased a nice stainless steel burger flipper for her going away gift."


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