Originally published May 21, 2018 at 08:59p.m., updated May 22, 2018 at 12:00a.m.

Possible AD candidates for Kansas

Jayhawks prep for search for new athletic director in wake of Sheahon Zenger firing

Sheahon Zenger was introduced as KU's new athletic director on Monday, Jan. 3, 2011, during a press conference at Hadl Auditorium.

Sheahon Zenger was introduced as KU's new athletic director on Monday, Jan. 3, 2011, during a press conference at Hadl Auditorium.


The University of Kansas is in the market for a leader of its athletic department for the first time since late 2010 now that Sheahon Zenger is out.

Monday morning's news that KU Chancellor Doug Girod had relieved Zenger of his duties, effective immediately, means that the university is looking for its 11th AD in school history.

When that person is hired, a crucial element of his or her job, as was the expectation with Zenger, will be to get the KU football program back on the right track.

During his seven years with KU, Zenger, who spent six years at Illinois State before coming to Kansas, fired two football coaches and hired three, one on an interim basis. His three hires (Charlie Weis, interim Clint Bowen and current head coach David Beaty) carry a 10-62 record into the 2018 season, Beaty's fourth at KU.

Throughout the past couple of years, Zenger said it was consistency, stability and a stick-with-it approach that would help Kansas football get going again. But on Monday, Girod decided he no longer could stick with Zenger through that process.

Although Girod and his search committee, which will be led by former interim AD Drue Jennings — known best as the man who hired Bill Self back in 2003 — are at the beginning of their search, here's a list of a few potential candidates for the job.

Zenger leaves KU with a $1.4 million buyout and a $700,000 annual salary that ranked him sixth among the eight Big 12 AD salaries that are made public. Baylor and TCU, as private universities, are not required to release the salaries of their employees.

According to numbers from Spencer Fane LLP, Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt ($1.45 million) and new Texas AD Chris Del Conte ($1.43 million) led the list of Big 12 ADs, with Oklahoma's Joe Castiglione ($1.28 million) and West Virginia's Shane Lyons ($920,000) not far behind.

Iowa State's Jamie Pollard ($868,112) checked in just ahead of Zenger during the 2017-18 school year. Oklahoma State's Mike Holder ($644,372) and Kansas State's Gene Taylor ($500,000) rounded out the list of available salaries.

Potential KU AD Candidates:

— Joe Parker, 53, Colorado State University AD

Current status: 3 years at CSU

Salary: $400,000 per year; contract runs through 2022

Worth noting: Although the idea for the project began long before he arrived in Fort Collins, Colo., Parker was the man who brought it home. Last year, CSU opened a $220 million on-campus football stadium that brought the Rams into the modern age of college football. Parker also is familiar with the Big 12 Conference from his past stops at Texas Tech (deputy AD), Texas and Oklahoma. He also successfully negotiated an apparel deal with Under Armour and a multimedia rights partnership with Learfield, both of which brought more money into the CSU athletic department. The former Michigan swimmer who worked at his alma mater from 2003-11 was part of a four-man committee responsible for more than $400 million in infrastructure improvements, including the renovation and creation of new revenue opportunities at Michigan's football stadium.

— Curt Apsey, 56, Boise State University AD

Current status: 3 years at BSU

Salary: $331,500 per year; contract runs through July 31, 2020

Worth noting: Apsey replaced former Boise AD Mark Coyle, who left to take the same job at Syracuse, but it marked a return to a familiar place. Apsey spent 16 years as the senior associate AD at BSU and also was the interim AD in 2011. His work on capital projects at BSU totaled nearly $72 million with four of Boise State's major sports programs from 2006-2013. Dubbed by the school at the time of his hire as the perfect bridge from the glory days of Boise State athletics, when the football program broke onto the national map, to the modern days, Apsey has a solid record of both academic and athletic success during both of his stints with the BSU program.

— Michael Alford, 48, Central Michigan AD

Current status: 1 year at CMU

Salary: $275,000 per year (plus bonuses); contract runs through 2021, up for annual review

Worth noting: Although still new to CMU, Alford's extensive track record at Oklahoma, where he served under Castiglione from 2012-17, and in various roles as director of corporate sales and marketing with the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals, at ABC and with Alabama's Crimson Tide Sports Marketing provide an impressive resume. At OU, Alford planned and managed a $160 million end zone facility project and also led the $7 million Blake Griffin Performance Center upgrade for Oklahoma basketball, which is scheduled to open this year. In 2016, Alford was recognized by College AD's panel of athletic directors as one of 2016's “Next Up,” which lists employees identified by senior-level administrators as those ready to take the next step and become an athletic director.

– Terry Mohajir, Arkansas State AD

Current status: 6 years at ASU

Salary: $305,000 per year; contract through June 2019

Worth noting: After being a part of Glen Mason's football staff at Kansas in the early 1990s, Mohajir returned to KU in 2011 and spent 13 months filling a number of roles in the athletic department after working at Florida Atlantic as a senior associate athletics director from 2004-11. While at FAU, he oversaw development, marketing, ticket sales, corporate sales and the media relations department. His duties at KU included many of those and expanded to include assisting in the operations for the Williams Educational Fund and directing the efforts of the Marketing and Game-Day Experience staffs. Since landing at Arkansas State, his alma mater, Mohajir has impressed with his ability to upgrade facilities and also worked with elite football coaches, first for one year with Gus Malzahn, who now is at Auburn, and later hiring Bryan Harsin, who now leads the Boise State program.

– Sean Lester, Interim AD at Kansas

Current status: 15 years at KU

Salary: N/A

Worth noting: Entering his second stint as the interim athletic director at Kansas, Lester came to KU with former KU AD Lew Perkins in 2003 and served as Associate AD until becoming interim AD from September 2010 through February 2011, after Perkins' departure and prior to Zenger's arrival. Lester, who has played a key role in overseeing men's basketball, football and baseball throughout his time at Kansas was promoted to Senior Associate AD in July of 2011 and promoted again to Deputy AD in January 2013. The fact that he now has been twice trusted to handle the transition from one athletic director to the next says something.

— Mitch Barnhart, 58, Kentucky AD

Current status: 16 years at UK

Salary: $800,000 for 2018-19; contract runs through 2021-22 and increases by $30,000-$50,000 each year.

Worth noting: After 16 years of putting in work to build both the football and basketball programs at Kentucky, Barnhart may very well be content where he is and is likely, at best, a long shot to even express interest in the Kansas job. But given the fact that he grew up in Kansas City and attended college at nearby Ottawa University, he probably would be worth contacting. Not only does Barnhart understand the ins and outs of big time college basketball, having worked with the Kentucky program and UK coach John Calipari, but he also hired Mark Stoops to lead the Wildcats football program in 2012, a move that led to a 26-36 record in the past five years, with UK winning seven games and playing in a bowl game in each of the past two seasons.

— Danny White, Central Florida AD

Current status: 3 years at UCF

Salary: $525,000 annually; contract runs through

Worth noting: Hired by UCF at the age of 36 in late 2015, the question for White is simple: After passing out “national championship” rings to the UCF football program following an undefeated 2017 season, would the former Notre Dame offensive lineman enjoy the opportunity to step into a Power 5 conference and try to win a ring for real? Prior to his time at UCF, White — who is not the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback — served as a senior associate AD at Ole Miss and also was the AD at Buffalo from 2012-15. Considered one of the most impressive ADs under 40 in the nation, White comes from a family of athletic directors. His father, Kevin White, is the AD at Duke and his sister and brother hold associate athletic director jobs at Florida Atlantic and SMU.

NOTE: None of these names, as of today, are known to have expressed any interest in the job. And this list certainly can change or grow in the weeks ahead. But with Zenger's time at KU now over and the committee ready to move full-speed ahead with its search, some of the names mentioned above may be on the radar.


Dane Pratt 3 years, 4 months ago

Al Bohl. I don’t think Roy will mind.

Brett McCabe 3 years, 4 months ago

He may still be standing in the driveway.

Gavin Fritton 3 years, 4 months ago

Not legally possible. It's standard to take out insurance policies on certain "key" employees and I assume KU does this for certain people like the AD. Additionally, part of the benefits package will certainly be a life insurance policy in addition to standard health coverage. No way Bohl can possibly qualify for insurance as a crushed dove. Actuarially, it's a complete non-starter.

John Fitzgerald 3 years, 4 months ago

I’d be interested to see who each of these guys have connections to for Head Coach because I find it highely unlikely Beaty is around in 2019. I even made a list of my own of possible coaching candidates and mainly because I honestly don’t know much about AD’s. I’ve said this before and will say it again, I’d love to get a guy with ties to Dave Doeren.

Dillon Davis 3 years, 4 months ago

Doeren is at the top of my wish list. If NC State has a down year, it could be a perfect fit.

Chris Condren 3 years, 4 months ago

I am not at all interested in the KUAD hiring the guy who had major responsibility for KU football during the Decade of Despair. He has had over eight years to improve the program and failed miserably. He is a Perkins guy and we have had all of that influence we need. He is part of the problem not the solution. Time for him to go!

Brad Avery 3 years, 4 months ago

Good group, but this stood out for me.

Since landing at Arkansas State, his alma mater, Mohajir has impressed with his ability to upgrade facilities and hire football coaches, first Gus Malzahn, who now is at Auburn, and later Bryan Harsin, who now leads the Boise State program.

That and the fact that Mohajir coached at KU.

Matt Tait 3 years, 4 months ago

Sorry for the confusion, but I wanted to clarify. Mohajir worked with Malzahn for one year but did not hire him. It's fixed in the story and he still spent time around the guy...

Brad Avery 3 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for the clarification. Harsin has apparently done ok at Boise State where he has a 42-12 record. He also has B12 experience as the OC at Texas.

Richard Duran 3 years, 4 months ago

The next AD should be the guy who hires Jim Leonhard.

Jeremy D. Morris 3 years, 4 months ago

He's suggesting (I think) that the next KU AD should be one who will hire Jim Leonhard.

Joe Norgay 3 years, 4 months ago

Sean Lester is awful. He should have been fired with Zenger. A lot of people in the AD don’t like him.

I hope whoever comes in removes people like him and Matt Baty. Guys are awful.

Doug Roberts 3 years, 4 months ago

Time to dust off the percentage wheel, Matt!

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 4 months ago

Joe Parker would be a nice choice. CSU is pretty competitive in most sports in the Mountain West and he did just go through the process of building a new stadium for CSU.

Is Parker also the one who hired Jim McElwain at CSU or was he already in place?

Waylon Cook 3 years, 4 months ago

That one really stood out to me as well. Did he hire BoBo?

Jay Scott 3 years, 4 months ago

The best potential AD would be a committee of LJW discussion board Chicken Littles. You all know who they are. That way, they could be right 100% of the time and win every game, every recruiting battle and build new facilities for every NCAA sport every year.....

This esteemed group would not only have rid KU of Beaty long ago, but also fired underachieving losers like Bill Self, Ray Bechard, Stanley Redwine and Megan Smith.

It's time for real innovation!! The Chicken Little Committee for AD!!

Joe Black 3 years, 4 months ago

Kenny Mossman Senior Associate AD from OU as the next KU AD!! He is a guy raised in Kansas and a great character guy. He has been heavily involved in OU football and softball.

Dennis Strick 3 years, 4 months ago

Drue, If you are reading these stories and comments please put on the full court press for Ross Bjork. You know who he is but for everyone else he is the current AD at Ole Miss. He is the former AD at Western Kentucky. He was the youngest Division I AD of 120 when he was hired.

He has great experience in working on capital campaigns leading fundraising at the age of 35 for UCLA's John Wooden Athletic Fund. He raised 25 million in one year and doubled season ticket sales in Football and Basketball in 2008.

He went to high school in Dodge City. He played football at DCCC and Emporia State. He had short early stints at Univ of Tulsa and unfortunately at MIZZOU but we can forgive him for that misstep. A man's gotta eat.

We need youth, experience, energy and success to come in and blow things up in that way too comfortable athletic department. Please go get him!

John Brazelton 3 years, 4 months ago

Luckily, the AD Search Committee has their own set of priorities and candidates. I'm sure that they need very little help in their search. Kansas fans and sports writers always are ones to count their chickens before the eggs hatch with ADs who are locked in to their current jobs. and are not leaving.

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 4 months ago

As long as he can hire a football coach that wins...fundraising gets a lot easier with wins.

Gerry Butler 3 years, 4 months ago

Well like the article says not sure if they are on the Radar but let's say they are for names sake. - From my 1st glance and reading Bio - or review my want I think would be and again jut a 1st impression could be way off here but I think I'd like possibly to get Joe Parker from Colorado State - or possibly Michael Alford from Central Michigan. - - Sounds or looks like they seem to be pretty good at getting things done - but what do I know might be totally off just my 2 cents

Brett McCabe 3 years, 4 months ago

It’s a smart list in that most of the candidates seem obtainable and with solid backgrounds for what KU needs.

I doubt that it will be internal, and I’d be surprised to see someone leave the SEC for KU.

It’s good to get an early look at some of the possibilities - there seems to be some quality candidates available.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 4 months ago

No more golden parachutes = they are not an incentive to perform and they suck too many dollars.

If the athletic dept can afford golden parachutes then that says golden parachute money should go towards many students in need of economic assistance = money better spent.

Jay Scott 3 years, 4 months ago

"Hi, we're Kansas. We won't pay out a contract if we decide to fire you. Still wanna be our coach or AD?"

Sorry. No chance of making that work in a competitive space.

Brett McCabe 3 years, 4 months ago

Unfortunately, it's the price of entry. No quality coach in the country will take a gig - virtually anywhere - without a guaranteed contract of 5 or 6 years. That contract then has to be extended at least two years prior to termination, or it sends the wrong sign to recruits.

If Zenger was forced to go cheap on Beaty, so be it. He could have found many, better candidates for the same price.

Jay Scott 3 years, 4 months ago

Which ones? Have a few names as examples?

Bob Strawn 3 years, 4 months ago

An obvious missing candidate is John Currie. He'd fix facilities, finances and compliance issues. Not sure how he'd get along with Adidas or Bill Self though.

Another is the Youngstown State contingent, Jim Tressel and Bo. They'd fix the football program quickly.

But Ku will do something magical again, selecting a bright up and comer like Dr. Z and Chuck.

Jay Scott 3 years, 4 months ago

Hire Tennessee's AD away? Why not go after Alabama's football coach too......

Freddie Garza 3 years, 4 months ago

I'd just like to make a public statement and say that, while I certainly find the job to be intriguing and it obviously presents a unique challenge that I would potentially be interested in pursuing, I have in no way been contacted by officials from the University of Kansas. Any speculation to the contrary is purely false and based on conjecture.

Tim Orel 3 years, 4 months ago

That's funny because when they contacted me about the position (since I'm from Kansas and spent time at Michigan and CSU, as well as the Denver Broncos) they said they had just gotten off the phone from talking to you about whether you'd be willing to accept the position.

I had to turn them down, but I wish KU spectacular long-term success.

Donald Martin 3 years, 4 months ago

No hurry, keep/talk Dru Jennings to taking the fulltime AD position until the Beatty situation is resolved later this year. Dru probably has more respectability in the KU ahtletic program than anybody else. Enjoyed watching him play in his football playing days. We can always find another football coach!

Randy Bombardier 3 years, 4 months ago

I like the Danny white possibility. That way he can pick the brains of his family member ADs.

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