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Friday, September 14, 2018

KU’s athletic director wants to build up football program, ‘dig out of hole,’ before tackling stadium

Jeff Long, athletic director at the University of Kansas, speaks at The Chamber luncheon at Arterra Event Gallery on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

Jeff Long, athletic director at the University of Kansas, speaks at The Chamber luncheon at Arterra Event Gallery on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

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Just six weeks after coming on staff as athletic director at the University of Kansas, Jeff Long is saying that building up the football program should take precedence over a multimillion-dollar remodel of the David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

“The stadium is still very important,” Long said, during a question and answer session following a presentation he gave at a Chamber luncheon Friday at the Arterra Event Gallery. However, he added that KU was going to focus first on building a new program before turning its full attention to the venue where the team would play.

A year ago, the $350 million five-year campaign dubbed “Raise The Chant” kicked off with plans that included upgrades to Memorial Stadium, Hoglund Ballpark, construction of a new 3,000-seat volleyball arena and completion of renovations at Allen Fieldhouse.

The volleyball facility is due to be finished by the end of the season, Long said. The football practice facility is due to be finished next spring.

“I am not sure where the campaign is,” Long said. “But we need to raise funds for coaches to go out and recruit the players who would build the team. There are things missing in our program — that is going to take resources.”

Long said the university "sent a message" when it brought in KU head football coach David Beaty at a salary of $600,000 when coaches at Texas and Texas A&M; were getting $3.5 million.

Beaty has since received a contract extension, which doubled his annual salary beginning in 2017, with that amount increasing by $100,000 each year he remained at KU, the Journal-World reported in December 2016.

“It sent a message we don’t care about football,” Long said. “We dug a hole — I don’t know the reasons — but we need to dig out of the hole. “

As he spoke about the football team, Long said he was excited about Saturday’s game against Rutgers University. Last weekend KU beat Central Michigan, 31-7, breaking a 46-game, nine-year losing streak on the road.

“We have a chance for a winning streak," he said, holding up two fingers. “It only takes two games for a streak.”

Long became emotional as he spoke about KU's team.

“The football players are working extremely hard to win,” he said, pausing to compose himself. “I get emotional, I apologize. They want to win so badly. I want people to come out and support them.”

Long suggested the community could do its part by coming to football games, buying season tickets, hanging the KU flag outside their businesses.

“As the football program gets stronger, we will drive people to the (football) community,” Long said. “It’s already happening with basketball.”

Long told the packed room of chamber members that he wanted the student-athletes from the 18 sports at the university to partner with the community.

“Sometimes we are characterized as always taking from the community,” Long said. “We want to be partners.”

Related stories

In September 2017, when KU announced plans to build $350 million in new facilities, primarily for football, it marked the beginning of one of the biggest financial bets the program has ever made. The Journal-World decided to study the financial books, talk to leaders and give readers a better understanding of the money game that is constantly a part of big-time college athletics. These are the resulting stories from spring 2018.

April 29 — A look at the finances of Kansas Athletics: Rising revenues, soaring costs, big bets

April 29 — KU basketball saves athletic department budget, allows leaders to dream of ‘blue sky potential’

May 6 — KU football ticket sales down about $6 million per year; some question whether $300 million in new facilities will help

May 13 — Administrative salaries jumped by 42 percent in a single year at Kansas Athletics; KU salaries top K-State’s

May 13 — How much does KU spend on athletics? More than the city spends on police, fire and roads, but returns are big too

May 20 — Girod: Athletics important to KU, but there is a “disconnect” too

May 20 — Should KU be worried about getting dumped from a Power 5 Conference? The financial stakes are huge

May 22 — Rock Chalk Park started as $39 million deal for KU; now it may top $100 million after KU allowed lease to be changed

Comments

Bryson Stricker 1 week, 3 days ago

HUGE MESSAGE from KU's new AD. Glad my $250/yr getting put in good hands.

Micah Mandy Haase 1 week, 3 days ago

I think we need to spend what money we raised and put a track around the field. (in sarcastic font)

Steve Hillyer 1 week, 3 days ago

We spent well over $2 million/year on the previous two football coaches prior to Beaty which was sending the message KU will spend a lot of money on bad football coaches.

Lance Hobson 1 week, 3 days ago

Um, I know Mr Long is new and everything but someone should tell him that our football team has been in a hole more or less for a hundred years. A nice updated stadium is actually doable though so let’s just do that. And don’t forget to level the east side and rebuild it closer so we can have the stands right next to the field. Mahalo.

Aaron Paisley 1 week, 3 days ago

The east and west sides of the field aren't any further away than most other fields. Bringing the north seats in closer is a bigger issue than the east or west seats.

Jason Venable 1 week, 2 days ago

That stadium is horrific. Looks like the exterior was never completed. Is the renovation going to put on an exterior and close up what appears to be am unfinished structure. For the money a new one could be built. I like the location but it's not suitbale anymore. Zero parking. Isn't there plenty of land on West Campus? I recall, been a few years, plenty of space near 23rd & Iowa? (on the corner)

Dane Pratt 1 week, 2 days ago

I pray they never re-locate memorial stadium. Its location is PERFECT!

Joe Ross 1 week, 2 days ago

They should NEVER change the location. Parking could be increased by expanding the current lot toward Fambrough Drive, and constructing a multi-level parking garage there with 4 exits to Fambrough and McCook drives.

I agree with you about the edifice of the stadium, though. It looks third-worldish and, as you say, "unfinished".

Joe Ross 1 week, 2 days ago

I'm disappointed that the breaks are being put on the stadium reno, too.

But I'm open to the possibility that my thinking on it is wrong, and that Long was hired to do a job.

Chris DeWeese 1 week, 2 days ago

Yes, the stadium is an ancient artifact. Out with old and in with new I say. It should be bulldozed and replaced with a state of the art stadium to bring the football program into the 21st century. That being said, I don't know where they'd play while it is being constructed, but definitely keep the current location. I think we can work on improving the team/program at the same time we improve the facilities. If the money is there, I don't think we need to wait. Big if...

Darin Bradley 1 week, 3 days ago

While I understand Long's point, today's recruits want to play in nice venues. Even the 2 and 3 star guys. I actually agree with DB when he says it's an arms race so we'll be hard pressed to "build the program" if we're not competing for better players. I hope Long can secure funds for upgrades in parallel to building the program. Time will tell...

Bill Kackley 1 week, 3 days ago

Could article, good constructive comments then along comes Jeff Coffman

Jeff Coffman 1 week, 3 days ago

The article is inaccurate in a key piece...Beaty was signed for an $800,000 a year for a guarantee of 5 years. Two years after an 0-12 followed by a 2-10 season, we doubled his salary and added an automatic $100k raise for every year he stayed. We pay at least $125,000 for Beaty to coach each game. Did you know his salary can even be more than that if he wins, games. Did you know he has had an incentive based contract now going into his fourth year, and has yet to receive won incentive...not one.

What is forgotten is the amount Beaty can make, but doesn't because he hasn't put together wins.

David Robinett 1 week, 3 days ago

Sorry but I don’t think the salary of your football coach is a message. I actually thought the message with Beaty’s salary was fiscal responsibility for once.

Ray Winger 1 week, 1 day ago

Someone should ask Mr. Long if he cares about KU Football. When he is compelled to retain Coach Beatty, will he give him a big salary boost?

Doug Cramer 1 week, 3 days ago

Mr. Long - Mark Mangino.

He has the formula to make you look good.

I don’t anyone else that can take this broken program and build it back to where it was in the mid 2000s.

Steven Haag 1 week, 2 days ago

😂😂😂😂😂😂😂. The couch coaches are now the couch AD’s too....😂😂😂😂😂. They love a person, so long as they make policy and decisions that are in line the the couch experts😂😂😂😂😂😂. What????? They were singing, no wait, screaming the praises of the hire of Long as the new AD because he was going to(in their mind) immediately fire Beaty, raise the 350 million and get the best coach in America all in week one. He keeps Beaty, puts the renovation on hold, and now they are already questioning him. Absolutely mind blowing. Perhaps we should take his advice and support this team, be positive (or say nothing at all) and let this play out. Look, I have been one of the biggest supporters of Beaty that there is. After the first two games, I am not seeing huge strides in the offense. If they don’t improve, there will be few, if any more wins. I can question some play calling, I get that and can even agree with it. But way too many posts are over the top and completely unnecessary. It does NOTHING but continue to hurt the program and possible recruits. Sure doesn’t help. You want to see us successful again? Well, you aren’t going to be calling plays, coaching, or making AD decisions. So what can you do to help the program be successful? SUPPORTthe team, that’s what you can do.

Kevin Robert Fest 1 week, 2 days ago

Steve

Again recruits will or will not come to a program because the fans voice their displeasure. Pooka and Harris came and KU fans are all over Beaty for good reason. Let's stop with the negative comments will keep players away. Most see a program that has 4 wins in 4 seasons and not a lot going for it at the moment. I'm sure none of the LA recruits decommitted last year because of fan opinion. Every program in the country has + or - opinions from the fans. Why is it that wanting to replace a coach who is 4 and 34 and is still making the same coaching mistakes in year 4 put on the fans who want him gone? It's not the wins it's the lack of any progress under him in 4 years. It's the fans who say do nothing and just support the team no matter what who are hurting KU football. Keep patting yourself on the back for being a "good" fan. Wanting change for change sake doesn't help, wanting to move the program. In another direction because Beaty is not the right coach doesn't mean those fans are hurting the program. Have you watched the last two weeks? Support Beaty Why? Players yes, Beaty absolutely not. Get over yourself.

Joe Ross 1 week, 2 days ago

I think this is a message that Long is going to fire Beaty.

Long is saying football coaches need to be paid more. It's true. Especially Big 12 caliber coaches. But can anyone imagine Long suggesting we need to keep Beaty on...AND give him a RAISE?

Writing appears to be on the wall.

John Joseph Gorski 1 week, 2 days ago

This tells me it'll be 2-4 years before we look at building a stadium, another few years to go through motions of fund raising and working out the details of a new stadium, then when to begin and a few seasons the fully complete the project. Are we looking at another 10+ year before we get stadium upgrades now?

Robert Brock 1 week, 2 days ago

I’m not in favor of upgrading the stadium. I want it demolished. Start over.

Aaron Paisley 1 week, 2 days ago

Can't demolish the stadium because it's a WW1 memorial.

Al Martin 1 week, 2 days ago

Sure you can. The replacement could also be a WWI memorial, and could easily be a much better one.

Vern Sheldon-Witter 1 week, 2 days ago

What you CAN do is what Chicago did to Soldier Field, gut the seating, put new seating at both ends of the Field, make it ALL chair seats and keep it on Campus where it belongs. Relocation will not make our problems any better. We need to keep the bones of Booth-Memorial and change the inside. Wait and see what LA/USC does with the Colosseum for the Olympics.

Steven Haag 1 week, 2 days ago

Kevin, answer this question. Does all the negative comments do any good at all? Didn’t think so. Get over yourself

Steve Hillyer 1 week, 1 day ago

Interesting comments from a Rutgers reporter regarding KU stadium and attendance

e. Good seats available. Bad seats, too. Really, just about any seat in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium was available. Rutgers might have attendance problems, but at least the Scarlet Knights will never have a crowd that wouldn't even fill its basketball arena. f. This is a cool, old-school-style stadium, though. Rutgers won't make a return trip here any time soon, but fans who did make the trip could add another traditional Midwestern venue on their list. And there were a good number of Rutgers fans in the stadium.

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