Monday, May 29, 2017


Tom Keegan: Outgoing chancellor jumped gun on incoming chancellor

Charlie Weis laughs as he sits at a table with Kansas University athletic director Sheahon Zenger and Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little during a news conference in which Weis was announced as the new head football coach Friday, Dec. 9, 2011 at the Anderson Family Football Complex.

Charlie Weis laughs as he sits at a table with Kansas University athletic director Sheahon Zenger and Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little during a news conference in which Weis was announced as the new head football coach Friday, Dec. 9, 2011 at the Anderson Family Football Complex.


So let me get this straight: Dr. Doug Girod was chosen to lead the University of Kansas into the next decade, but the retiring boss gets to decide who will lead the new chancellor’s athletic department.


This couldn’t wait a couple of months? Before even considering whether Sheahon Zenger deserved the contract extension through 2021, let’s acknowledge the obvious: Girod deserved to make that decision. He was owed that courtesy. Period.

If I’m Girod, I’d feel as if I were just the victim of a hustle. I’d feel like the golfer who figures out he just got parking-lotted, which is a scam that three golfers cook up in the parking lot before the fourth arrives. They agree that after throwing up balls, whoever gets the fourth as a partner, intentionally plays poorly enough to lose all the bets. Then in the parking lot before going home, the three scam artists split the winnings three ways. Everybody wins except the one guy who arrived at the golf course with good intentions.

Girod conceivably could have arrived at the same conclusion as chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. Now we’ll never know, no matter who spins what.

Might the candidates for the chancellor’s job been told during interviews that Zenger was getting an extension and then asked if they had any objections? If so, that’s not the way to handle it. Hire the best and turn over the decision to the new chancellor.

I was shocked at the timing simply because it's akin to a muddy welcome mat at the chancellor’s residence.

I should have seen it coming because I had just read a clue. Zenger’s quotes to the Journal-World's Matt Tait after the naming of the new chancellor didn’t come across as the words of a man insecure about his position and looking to carry the new boss’ bags for him. Regardless of Zenger's intentions, the words came across as those of a man who considers himself an equal to his new boss.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Dr. Girod since I’ve been here over the past six years and, more specifically, since 2013, during the time that he’s been the executive vice chancellor at the medical school,” Zenger said. “He’s been a valuable colleague during that time as we have worked on issues that pertain to both athletics and the medical school. With both of us being members of the cabinet, I’ve seen him interact at a high level with issues that pertain to the University of Kansas at large.”

Fortunately, Dr. Girod has had a better record than 9-51 on his surgeries.


Robert Brock 11 months ago

This is an outrage! The out-going Chancellor extends the contract of a failed athletics director! Disgusting!

Mountain West. Big East (sans football). American Athletic Conference. Ugh.

Frederick Heckel 11 months ago

At least one person at this site has a brain and won't just blindly follow the sinking ship down into the abyss that Zenger and BGL steered it to.

Bill Kackley 11 months ago

There is Tom Keagan stirring up s--t again.

Suzi Marshall 11 months ago

Good for you Tom for this article. I likewise was taken aback that BGL did the extension. I was ok with the extension itself initially. The more I thought about it, the more the process bothered me. Nevertheless, I'm not all that comfortable Girod knows anything at all about athletics. My hope/expectations is Girod will be able to attract research dollars to KU, specially KUMC, so we are able to upgrade our academic standing.

Bryce Landon 11 months ago

The 9-51 record isn't entirely on Zenger. Zenger doesn't do the coaching. Zenger doesn't spend time in the film room. Zenger doesn't do the recruiting. Weis and Beaty are as much to blame for the present state of KU football. (As is Gill before them)

David Dunlap 11 months ago

You took the low road, Tom. Keeping Bill Self happy at KU is Zenger's top ten priorities as it should be. Staying a top 5 basketball program should continue to be the priority of our athletic department. Football is secondary at best.

Bryce Landon 11 months ago

If keeping Bill Self happy is Zenger's top priority as AD, then Bill Self has too much power in the athletic department. No coach, however successful or popular he has been, should ever be more powerful than the athletic director.

Jim Stauffer 11 months ago

Well, Tom, we like you too. Why don't you have the guts to say you think Zenger should be fired. Do some research of the previous AD's at KU and you will learn why the FB program has always been the program that stood back and let all the money and effort be directed toward basketball. You will also learn that coaches of other sports were essentially given lifetime contracts to serve until they decided they no longer desired the job. Zenger and BGL have presided over a great growth program of facilities of not only basketball but also Football and all other sports. He is the perfect AD for this school and if Girod did not want him there would have been no extension. From the standpoint of those haters such as you, BGL did Girod a favor. If he decides he doesn't want Zenger at any point in the future (I am sure he signed off on the extension) he can simply fire the AD that the previous Chancellor foisted on him and he and you all will be happy as hogs in slop. Thanks for throwing water on the fire that is now burning in the Athletic Department primarily due to Sheahon Zenger.

Buck Bukaty 11 months ago

blah, blah, blah.........the typical arm chair quarterbacking followed by the requisite brown nosing. More of the same.

A voice of reason from Mr. Stauffer!

Jerry Walker 11 months ago

"Fortunately, Dr. Girod has had a better record than 9-51 on his surgeries." -- Keegan

Regardless of one's position on the extension that line is nothing more than childish buffoonery.

Steve Corder 11 months ago

Questions for Tom: 1. How do you know Dr. Girod was not part of the extension process? 2. When did the extension review process begin? 3. Is this piece about who gets to present the extension or is it about Dr. Zenger not being your choice to continue as AD? 4. Do you think, with the soon to be unveiling of a massive athletic capital campaign to renovate Memorial Stadium and other facilities, that key "money people/donors" were not consulted or considered? Have you ever considered the time and energy required for this anticipated campaign to start and conclude beyond the contract's original expiration? 5. Did you pick-up the phone and call Dr. Girod, Dr. Zenger and Dr. Gray-Little?

Throw a little mud on the wall and see what sticks.

Barry Weiss 11 months ago

I have to believe Dr. Girod was told of this ahead of time and was okay with it.

Robert Brock 11 months ago

The football program (and facilities) is awful. Zenger should have been fired due to the Weis disaster. He deserves to be fired NOW.

The future does not look bright for KU athletics. The GOR expires soon; look for KU to fall to a lesser conference.

John Brazelton 11 months ago

You can tell it's the summer and nothing is going on in KU sports. Another unnecessary rant by Tom Keagan! Any management official will tell you that employee raises and benefits are given for both past performance and future potential. Zenger has worked for Chancellor Grey-Little for a number of years and not one day for Dr. Girod. Which Chancellor knows his performance best? All KU sports and facilities have gotten better, even the KU football locker rooms. Texas just spent several million dollars to upgrade their locker rooms, just to catch up with KU. Perhaps the Lawrence Journal World's Sports Director needs his performance evaluated? If I was his boss, I would choose to find a better Sports Director!

Humpy Helsel 11 months ago

If you don't like or think he is not doing a good job as AD, why are you waiting until now to voice this? Do you know Girod was not consulted? What are Self's thoughts on this and how does he work with Zenger? I know Self issued a public statement, but that may or may not mean anything. I will grant you, the Weis thing was a total disaster, but at the moment it was made the only coaches to be attracted to the program were name brand that had failed other places, or an unknown up and comer. Zenger gambled wrong on that one, while the second strategy is looking better every day from what I can tell. The head football coach at KU doesn't really have much clout with AD hires, but the basketball coach does, Or at least he should.. Is Self happy with Zenger? If he is happy, we all should be happy. To compare surgery outcomes to win/loss of football games seems a little disconnected. Your story is provocative in a time of slow KU sports news, but not some of your better journalism.

Carter Patterson 11 months ago

Two things.

1) The new chancellor could fire him at anytime. Albeit, with a contract buyout.

2) My guess is that the new chancellor was kept appraised of the situation and if he had any objections would have had the opportunity to inject them. Now if Zenger ever did have reason to be let go, the new Chancellor has cover.

Jerry Walker 11 months ago

Well done, Steve and Humpy. A well deserved spanking of Keegan for this crappy attempt at journalism.

When writers lack talent they often resort to the trickery and dishonesty of click-baiting. That's all this is...clickbait.

Joseph Bullock 11 months ago

Bryce Landon, Gill came in to a no win situation, and was told to be nice, after the unjust firing of Mangino! He was highly criticized by the media, and the mother of the kid (I forget his name, who was the best receiver in the Country, who then went to Misery, and the OU, and how did that work out for them. Obviously, Gill and his staff, did their homework on that kid, he was big trouble! Weiss was a total disaster, and when he was hired, I voiced on 610 Sports Radio, that if he can't win a ND (where football recruits itself), how could he possibly win at Kansas. Pertaining to Coach Beaty, he took the job, with the Program in shambles, and without having the full allotment of Scholarships available (until this coming season), thus having a serious depth problem, rebuilding task, and image issues, and had a great Coaching Staff, many of whom were snatched away, because the Administration did not give them good, contracts, that did not allow them to leave so quickly, and Coach Beaty replaced them with more great Assistant Coaches, and and people can't see the fantastic progress, and steps forward, the Football Program is making, then you obviously don't know much about Football! It takes at least 3 to 4 years, to turn a Football Program around (many at Misery wanted to fire Pinkle-they didn't, and it turned out really great for them)-so let's watch to see the Progress our Football Team makes, this year, and next year!

Bryce Landon 11 months ago

Going from 0-12 to 2-10 is not progress. Not being able to beat Ohio or Iowa State at home is not progress. Having a kicker who's accuracy on field goals didn't improve one iota from 2015 to 2016, thus costing us an upset of TCU, is not progress. Upsetting Texas was nice, but it doesn't mean progress; that had more to do with Texas losing it than with us winning it. Until we win four games in a season, win more than one Big 12 game in a season, and win a road game at least once in a season, we are not making progress in our football program.

Jeff Coffman 11 months ago

I think the question being asked is whether you extend somebody in your final moments of service. I don't think the outgoing chancellor should have extended making the new person inherit longer term issues.

For those saying the new chancellor may not be in position to make that decision, one would question their overall credentials.

Bob Bailey 11 months ago

It's been obvious for 6 yrs that Zenger doesn't understand coaching. He was a piece of junk when hired! He's worse than a piece of junk now! What makes you less than knowledgeable commenters think Self is happy? He would be the last name on my list to make that comment.

John Fitzgerald 11 months ago

I've had my doubts about Zenger when it comes to football, but Beaty has instilled a little confidence in me as he's done some things our recent coaches haven't (Gill/Weis), such as upgrading the locker rooms as one of the best in the nation, recruiting better talent, going hard after in state recruits, and developing a strong walk on program. Aside from those things we still need to see wins. And hopefully everyone with a finger in the football program understands it takes more than a good coach to have a winning program. There are a lot of moving pieces and they lie on the shoulders of Zenger. But regardless of this new contract my gut feeling is his tenure still hinges on the outcome of this football season.

Chris DeWeese 11 months ago

First, isn't this Tom's blog and not an actual news article? Those questioning his journalistic integrity might be off base here. Second, I agree the timing of this contract extension seems a bit fishy, but what other alternative would you prefer? Starting all over AGAIN with a new AD (and ostensibly a new head football coach) would set the football program back yet again. All the positive momentum would be lost (Devonta Jason is now listed as a 5 star recruit. Shouldn't we try to keep him through stability and consistency in the program?). The 2018 recruiting class is shaping up to be phenomenal as far as KS recruiting classes go. The track teams, volleyball team, and tennis and golf programs are seeing great successes. I don't think that all happened by accident.

Dale Rogers 11 months ago

So, Tom, how do you know they didn't discuss this and Girod gave the go-ahead? To me this article shows what is wrong with today's media.... publishing articles based on assumptions rather than known facts.

Brad Sherp 11 months ago

Here is the timeline of how things actually went down:

  1. Zenger's extension is put into place.
  2. A few days later the New Chancellor was hired/announced.
  3. Zenger's extension announced a few days after that (i presume to avoid the scrutiny that they are getting with Tom's article).

How could the new Chancellor be consulted with if he was not even hired yet at the time that the deal was put into place? Unless someone has a time machine, it is not possible.

Dale Rogers 11 months ago

He was employed by KU as head of KU Medical Center and has been for years. So he was easily available for discussion. I would guess, and it's just a guess, that the hiring decision was made sometime prior to the announcement. It could be that he was not involved in the decision but in my past, pre-retirement, we always consulted the incoming person before making the decision and sometimes the announcement took place before they actually assumed the new responsibilities. My bet is that he was, in fact, involved in the decision. But that's just my opinion. Unless someone on the inside talks about it we'll probably never know for sure.

Clarence Haynes 11 months ago

Brad, My sense is that BGL did confer with Girod. When she did it, I don't know but I'm sure that she gave ample notice after learning when Girod was the choice of the Regents. Moreover, she probably has had prior discussions with the big donors who are likely going to facilitate the stadium upgrade.

Brad Sherp 11 months ago

I hope you are right, but I struggle to see how it is possible with the timeline of how things went down. You are not going to seek council from someone whom you haven't hired yet. It is just not something that organizations do.

Some people may disagree with Tom's opinions, but he has never fabricated anything. There is no one from KU administration demanding a retraction. or even denying it. That tells you something.

Chris DeWeese 11 months ago

Regardless, granting Zenger an extension was the right thing to do. Overall, his performance earned him this (notwithstanding the Weis hire). We'll never know the actual timeline as I'm sure there were plenty of discussions behind closed doors. I still think even if this decision was manipulated, it'll help sustain the momentum KU's athletic department has enjoyed under Zenger.

Clara Westphal 11 months ago

How many millions of dollars has Zenger cost KU and alumni for hiring bad coaches that were paid to leave? It took him 12 years to get rid of a very poor women's basketball coach.

If Beatty doesn't work out and is fired, Zenger needs to go, too.

Dale Rogers 11 months ago

Zenger has only been at KU for six years, not twelve. I agree the Weis hire was a bad one. I think the Beaty hire is going to prove out a winner. Reminds me of when Frederick hired Roy Williams to his first college head coaching job. Whether Beaty proves to be that successful remains to be seen but my bet is someday we'll look back on him as the guy who brought winning football back to Kansas.

Bryce Landon 11 months ago

Comparing Dr. Zenger's hiring of Beaty to Frederick's hiring of Roy is an insult to Frederick and Roy. When Roy took over the basketball program, it was coming off a national championship and had been slapped with probation and a one-year postseason ban. After a rough first year (19-12), the team made immediate improvement the next season (30-5) and played for the national title the year after.

Beaty has been nothing like that. The football team he took over was coming off a 3-9 season, and he began with a historically bad 0-12 season. The team went 2-10 the next season but showed no improvement. And there is no reason for me to believe things will be any better this coming season.

John Fitzgerald 11 months ago

You're talking up Roy Williams when he never won a National Championship with KU. Yet you repeatedly and immaturely blast Self when he has won a National Championship. Do you realize how confused and stupid you sound? I'm embarrassed there are KU fans like you out there.

Bryce Landon 11 months ago

Say what you want about Roy never winning a title at KU, but his record in the Elite Eight at KU was a sparkling 4-1 compared to Self's 2-5. And since leaving for UNC, Roy has added five more Final Fours and three national titles to his resume. Roy's lifetime Elite Eight record is now 9-2, compared to Self's lifetime record of 2-7, and has three national titles to Self's one. I think it's pretty clear who the better coach is and who got the better end of the stick in the 2003 coaching change. And if you can't see that, you're the one that other KU fans should be ashamed of.

John Fitzgerald 11 months ago

My argument isn't who the better coach is. I'm saying you look stupid defending a coach that couldn't win a title at KU, when all you do is cry about the coach we have now who has won a title. Remember when I asked who you'd replace Self with? You failed to answer because 1.) there is no answer and 2.) you're a f$&@ing idiot.

John Myers 10 months, 4 weeks ago

I literally laughed out loud at your last line. That's good stuff.

Stephen Young 10 months, 4 weeks ago

At the risk of swimming against the tide, I'm a fan of Dr. Zenger, and of our outgoing chancellor.

None of us (probably including Mr. Keegan) know what was back of the timing behind the AD's contract extension, but one thing we ALL know is that as football goes, so go the resources available to our entire athletics program--including our beloved men's basketball team and coaches.

I believe Dr. Zenger's hire of HC David Beaty was brilliant--and that KU Football will exceed expectations this year. Yes, Weis was a disaster. But even there, I admire the AD for the risk he took in "swinging for the fences."

Better days lie ahead, my Jayhawk brethren. Keep the faith!

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