Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lew Perkins’ tenure as Kansas athletic director comes to a sudden conclusion — months ahead of schedule

KU's athletic director abruptly retires

Kansas University Athletic Director Lew Perkins participates in a public interview regarding his career in sports administration Tuesday at the Dole Institute.

Kansas University Athletic Director Lew Perkins participates in a public interview regarding his career in sports administration Tuesday at the Dole Institute.



Lew Perkins retires

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KU's athletic director retired abruptly Tuesday afternoon. Perkins was involved in many changes in the department, good and bad.


Athletic Director Lew Perkins

KU Athletic Director led the Kansas Athletic Department for seven years and retired on Sept. 7, 2010. Look back at his time at KU.

The buzzer has sounded on Lew Perkins’ tenure as Kansas Athletics director.

Perkins on Tuesday abruptly retired his post — effective immediately — accelerating his previously announced retirement by a full year.

Left behind is the aftermath of a ticket scandal that has spurred a federal investigation, a state ethics probe over an alleged improper gift of exercise equipment, and now a $600,000 retention bonus that KU will pay Perkins even though he did not stay on until its 2011 triggering date. In total, Perkins will receive from KU about $2 million post retirement.

Sean Lester — associate athletics director who came to KU with Perkins from Connecticut — has been named interim athletics director. However, KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said Tuesday that Lester will not be a candidate for Perkins’ job.

Gray-Little praised Perkins seven-year tenure.

“There is no question that Kansas Athletics has benefited from Lew Perkins’ leadership,” said Gray-Little in a release. “One need only look at the academic success of our student-athletes, at KU’s trophy cases and at our state-of-the art athletic facilities to see those benefits. I appreciate his service and understand his decision.”

KU leaders characterized the early retirement as a mutual decision, but at least one Kansas Board of Regents member said the move was needed.

“It is an end of an era whose time has come,” said Ed McKechnie, vice chair of the board of regents.

McKechnie said he expects Perkins’ $2 million payout — none of which will come from taxpayer or tuition dollars — will spark criticism, but he praised Gray-Little’s work in dealing with a difficult issue.

“If she would have just fired him outright without cause — and she didn’t think she had cause — it would have cost a lot more,” McKechnie said. “I think a lot of credit has to go to the chancellor for being firm, for not being reactionary, and for driving this to a reasonable conclusion. But I understand reasonable is in the eye of the beholder.”

When news of a ticket scandal broke this spring, Perkins was under contract through June 2015. But KU leaders said Tuesday the contract term had since been reduced to Sept. 4, 2011.

McKechnie said he believes KU will gain something valuable from the transition.

“The most important thing for everybody to remember is that the chancellor of the University of Kansas is in charge of athletics,” McKechnie said. “That point had become lost and this chancellor has worked very hard to make that point clear.”

Reaction across Lawrence was mixed Tuesday. Mick Allen — the grandson of legendary basketball coach Phog Allen — said many KU fans had been waiting for Perkins to step aside or be removed.

“I think this was inevitable,” said Allen. “But he did exactly what he was hired to do. He raised a lot of money, but he alienated a lot of people in the process.”

Early in his tenure, Perkins implemented a controversial points system for Allen Fieldhouse seating, which caused many longtime donors to lose their seats or be moved to less desirable seats. Allen was among longtime ticket holders impacted by the points system, but he said his concern with Perkins stems from more recent controversies.

The points system rankled longtime faculty members, many of whom also expressed dismay at the ongoing erosion of the relationship between academics and athletics.

Bill Tuttle, a retired KU history professor, was serving on the KU Athletics board at the time the points system was installed, and he recalled he was the lone vote of dissent.

“I’ve always been proud of that vote,” he said. “It was all about greed. It’s all about money for everybody.”

Though Tuttle said Perkins, in a way, did what he was hired to do — improve KU’s fundraising, facilities and bottom line — he said it was difficult to look past what Tuttle said was an atmosphere of greed that permeated the department.

“I don’t think KU will miss him,” Tuttle said.

A report commissioned by the athletics department found that at least $1 million in men’s basketball and football tickets had been misappropriated by a consultant and athletic department employees who Perkins had either hired or supervised.

Perkins also has become the subject of an investigation by the Kansas Ethics Commission, which is determining whether Perkins violated a state ethics policy by accepting the free use of exercise equipment from a vendor who did business with KU athletics.

Several KU boosters, though, said Perkins had enhanced the prominence of KU athletics in Lawrence and beyond.

“He did some wonderful things and brought some awareness to the programs that we just didn’t have before,” said Rob Farha, owner of the college bar The Wheel, 507 W. 14th. “The question now is whether we can hold onto it with everything that has happened in the last few months.”

Supporters pointed to improved athletic facilities, larger football crowds, and Perkins’ behind-the-scenes work to help keep the Big 12 Conference largely intact. The KU football team won the 2008 Orange Bowl and the men’s basketball team won the 2008 national title under Perkins’ watch.

“He put the swagger back in,” said Forrest Hoglund, a KU donor living in Dallas, referring to a phrase Perkins used upon arriving in Lawrence. “At least for awhile.”

Regents chairman Gary Sherrer said that while the athletics department wasn’t necessarily facing a major crisis, fresh ideas and new energy should help the university.

“When someone makes the decision they’re going to move on, the sooner that happens, the better for them and the organization,” he said. “That certainly fits here.”

Dale Seuferling, president of the Kansas University Endowment Association, said Perkins’ prowess as a fundraiser will be missed. He said the events of the last several months have created some distraction, but he does not believe KU’s overall reputation has been tarnished.

But Farha and Allen both said they have heard from many KU fans who believe the reputation of the athletics department has been significantly damaged.

“Transparency is what I hear a lot about,” Farha said when asked what fans wanted in a new athletics director. “If they are going to be donating top dollars, they want to know that they are treated fairly in the pecking order.”

Allen said the issue is even broader.

“There is a considerable amount of trust-building to be done,” Allen said. “Whoever the next person is, that has to be their first and foremost task. A lot of trust certainly has vanished.”


ilikestuff 11 years, 8 months ago

Gill didn't exactly inherit a team with the cupboard full. Even w/superstars Reesing, Meier and Briscoe they lost 7 in a row last year.

Give the guy a chance and rest assured he won't be using profanity around the players or poking them in the chest, err, shoulder pads, etc.

ilikestuff 11 years, 8 months ago

Ah but they did last year when Magino suddenly lost 7 in a row including Mizzou.

Don't you remember the hype, the players coming forward, their parents, etc b/c Fatty had cursed at them or poked them in the chest.

I didn't think it was grounds for firing but seemingly everyone else did.

Magino left KU football just like he found it.

WichitaHawk1434 11 years, 8 months ago

RC Buford and Kevin Pritchard will get seroius looks as the next AD

Carter Patterson 11 years, 8 months ago

No they won't. This is not a STARTER job. Neither one on your short list has ever been an AD. We'll go after the BEST in the nation. It could be the Assistant AD at Texas or Florida. It will be somebody who can raise money and run a large corporation, NEITHER of which is something that your two candidates have ever done.

Dan Pawlowski 11 years, 8 months ago

Lou Perkins was the best in the nation when he was hired....just saying...

honk_for_hawks 11 years, 8 months ago

not saying they will get looked at, but its not because they couldn't do it. its because they would both probably make considerably more as GMs. They are probably both in the top 3 (at least top 5) of NBA GMs. Why would they leave a job they are so darn good at to make less money? On a side note, Pritchard is widely considered to be one of the top GMs in the biz; how has he not been hired anywhere yet? is he just taking a year off or what?

Ben Kliewer 11 years, 8 months ago

I disagree with this idea that Self would leave for some reason if KU wasn't in a major Bowl conference. Basketball is a completely different animal, and the tournament qualifications have nothing to do with your conference football associations. As we've seen, schools like Memphis (CUSA) Davidson (SoCon) or Kentucky, Duke, or even Baylor, traditionally very weak football programs, if any football program at all, have successful basketball programs. And even in weak Non BCS conferences, like CUSA and SoCon, those programs retain their coaches and maintain successful recruiting. With that in mind, I doubt Self would leave because we'd be in a lousy football situation. Kansas will retain it's history, because last I checked, history is a recorded series of events that actually happened, which will not suddenly "not have happened" if KU's football program gets us put in a lousy conference. KU would retain its name as a basketball power, regardless of what happens to our conference placement. There's no way the NCAA basketball tournament committee would allow Kansas' basketball program to not be a big name in the basketball world. We're one of their big money makers. And money talks. Regarding conference realignment, with Texas in the driver's seat of all this business (yeah, they are. You know it, I know it), and the Big 12 giving them everything they ask for, it is appropriate to assume that UT will want to remain in this situation for a minute. That being the case, I think the Big 12 will remain in tact for more than another 4 years. Maybe not much longer, but perhaps longer than 4. With this in mind, it gives Gill enough time to build a program, which I don't doubt that he can do. In fact, I look forward to seeing what this first game does to Gill's outlook on the program and what changes he will make. I really disagree with this doom and gloom prediction so many are preaching after our first game. Is in unacceptable that we lost to NDSU? Absolutely, but one game does not a season, or a Coach, make. Besides, it's very unrealistic to call for, or even think that Gill would be fired after one game. No program is going to fire a coach after one game. Perkin's hated Mangino and it took him, like, 5 years to fire him. Perkin's hired Self, granted, Self inherited a very good basketball team from Roy, so he did pretty good off the bat, but he had some pretty outrageous losses (Bucknell, Bradley, even Northern Iowa). Yet he also gave us our first National Championship in 20 years. Gill, conversely, inherited a program that was wrecked by graduation. We lost key players at every skill position that we were relatively decent at last year. And 3 star recruits have been a key for our program. Last I checked, Reesing, Meier, Sharp, Talib...all these guys were 3 star recruits. Actually, Talib was a 2 star. So all this talk about Mangino loading up on 4 star recruits and Gill not being able to recruit more than 3 stars doesn't really worry me.

Ben Kliewer 11 years, 8 months ago

My fault. Although you have to admit, Perkins sure did a good job of pretending to take credit for it. lol

OhioHawkfan 11 years, 8 months ago

Gill needs to go because he was hired out of spite. He was the only person interviewed for the job. Why? He had a losing record (20-30) in a terrible conference! Lew just wanted MM out, and hired the first guy he could find that had a different philosophy. Mangino may not have been the greatest coach, but he never lost to an FCS team!

As far as basketball goes, Kleave is exactly right. KU's basketball program will be just fine, regardless of what happens to the football team. We won the National Championship in '88, and the football team was HORRIBLE in the 80's!

ilikestuff 11 years, 8 months ago

No, but Fatty Mangino lost every conference game last year despite having superstars Reesing, Meier and Briscoe.

Everyone knew the O-line would stink at least as bad this year as last but now we don't even have a scrambling QB able to dump off to a super star on 3rd and 29, our favorite play.

Gill's a good coach, he took one of the worst teams ever in a pretty decent conference and made them respectable.

KU's done much worse than what I saw Saturday PM, look up some history.

BTW, I hated the way Mangino got fired, it was pure crap but that's not Gill's fault, he's just trying to build a team out of ...

Ben Kliewer 11 years, 8 months ago

We didn't lose EVERY conference game last year...we beat Iowa State!...barely...although I can see how you would count that as a non-conference know, since it's Iowa State.

ilikestuff 11 years, 8 months ago

My bad, I was too busy infiltrating Yamantau to keep the ’09 win/loss record straight. I remember our trying to lose that one in the final moments.

Fatty should be proud having never losing to an FCS team. I bet he reminisces daily that fact.

I bet he also reminisces, the set up for not playing whiny spoiled kids whose parent's told them for 18 years they'd be in inducted at Canton when they’re done playing football.

FreddyinLA 11 years, 8 months ago

Finally got the kingpin of the Lawrence mafia formally known as the Kansas Athletic department. Now we can get rid of the recently hired cop and the women’s intramurals basketball coach. The cronies he was bringing in at twice what they were worth should all be fired immediately. Hopefully the district attorney of Kansas will sue that Pile to get our money back for his travel expenses.

That Tool blew through more money than will be spent in the next 20 years and still didn’t get the track out of Memorial Stadium. Pitiful.

Justin Diederich 11 years, 8 months ago

Jayhawkinnebr you are out of your mind. Kansas football has been horrible how long? Our basketball will never suffer because of the football team. Self will not leave cause the football team is struggling. If he was to leave he would go to OSU or the pro's. Unlike Roy he will stay at Kansas till he decide's he is ready to go to the Pro's, which probably will never happen. As for Gill he lost to North Dakota State, I was there and frustrated like everyone else. That is not a reason to fire him. I liked mangino but he made us look bad. Gill might struggle this year, but give him time. At least he won't make us look bad, like Perkins, Mangino, and the Ticket Office.

WichitaHawk1434 11 years, 8 months ago

CPatterson You don't think the Portland Trailblazers are a major corporation ?

Carter Patterson 11 years, 8 months ago

A GM does not run the corporation. A GM is responsible for player personnel decisions. So to answer your question, yes, they are a major corporation and your question shows a complete lack of understanding in what an AD does. Do you think Kevin Pritchard is responsible for tickets sales and advertising? What experience does he have getting contributors to donate millions to build athletic facilities?

Matt Bowers 11 years, 8 months ago

I hate to say it, but he is probably leaving now because more bad news is heading in our direction. KU is probably getting off cheap to drop $2 million to have Perkins out of the picture. I hope I'm wrong, but these things happen for a reason. On the other hand, I could just be paranoid.

Rock Chalk

TenaciousD 11 years, 8 months ago

Dang, I hate seeing Coach Self in OSU colors at a meeting like that. He has been a big Lew fan for years. And didn't he have an out in his contract if Lew was ever fired?

John Brown 11 years, 8 months ago

There must be more to the financial abuses than has been reported. Usually, criminals nibble a little, then a little more, then they start stealing a lot because they have been getting away with it. I think what we know about Lew's scams are just a scratch on the surface.

Peety 11 years, 8 months ago

EXACTLY. But what took her so long? Did she think everything would turn out OK?? She waited until after basketball ticket decisions were made, dumb (we passed). Not impressed with her at all.

murph 11 years, 8 months ago

Let me say this slowly for you, Nebr. Maybe you can get it that way. The sport Bill Self works in is NOT affiliated with the BCS. He doesn't care what the football team does, usually. I expect he'd prefer the players from the two sports do NOT fight, but otherwise it's immaterial to him.

Ben Kliewer 11 years, 8 months ago

OK, ok. I'm putting the report together for the KU Athletic Department, so just so we're all clear, here's what we've all decided on these message boards. Lew Perkin's is actually Lex Luthor, and we all hated him. Especially for hiring Bill Self, who has never done anything for our basketball program. KU was really awesome at football under coach Mangino, winning countless National Championships. Turner Gill, who is actually a sea cucumber, has never won a football game before and we'd all be better coaches than him. The NCAA will realign into Super Conferences tomorrow, and Kansas is going to be the only school in the world left out. Because of this, Bill Self will leave and go coach at Oklahoma State. Then a giant hole will open under Lawrence, spew boiling hot bile into the air, and will dissolve and swallow all of Mt. Oread. Then, sentient flying skulls with batwings will gnaw on our flesh for all of eternity. This concludes my report of what I'm hearing from everyone. Pretty accurate? Yeah, that's what I thought.

kranny 11 years, 8 months ago

KU Athletics experienced unprecedented success and growth while Perkins was at the helm. The majority of the people who are critical are the ones who got kicked out their seats at Allen because they didn't donate enough or they are letting one football loss obscure their view. Donations are all about business and whether we like it or not that is what college athletics is. He along with with other KU alums generated more income in a short period of time to get first class facilities never before seen. Anybody who doesn't recognize that is obtuse. He did it his way and believe it or not he left KU athletics better off than he found it. Good luck Lew. This is one alum who thinks you did a helluva job.

proudkualum 11 years, 8 months ago

Regarding many of complaints: "People who know the least are often the loudest".

JHawk74 11 years, 8 months ago

Gill should be given a chance to build his team. Who cares that we lost to NDSU. It is just a loss to one game. Bill Self has had some bad loses also (Northern Iowa, Bucknell), but nobody is saying he should be fired. Coach Jimmy Johnson had a first bad season with the Cowboys but was given a chance to turn it around and won 2 super bowls. Mangino had a bad first season but got his players into the program and eventually won an Orange Bowl. All new coaches deserve several years to build a program. I wish everyone would give Gill some slack for the first year or two before saying he should be fired. Gill was on the right track at Buffalo to build a good football team but left for Kansas. Lew Perkins early retirement should be good for KU. Now we can go after a great canidate to keep KU in a BCS conference in the future.

ZDKC 11 years, 8 months ago

Let's hope our next AD doesn't decide to remove the names from all the athletics buildings for the sake of change.

Chris Bruning 11 years, 8 months ago

jayhawkinnebr.....KU will be lucky to win 2,3 or 4 games this year? yeah you're correct, but i predict great things in the future. lots of wins and legit bowl games. coachs don't turn things around right away... ask brian kelly who isn't goin to turn around tradition rich notre dame in ONE year....chill out dude, Turner Gill put together two offensive lines worth of recruits just months after comin here. will just take a little time

ZDKC 11 years, 8 months ago

Brian Kelly has a long track record of winning when at the helm...even in D2. Gill has a track record of losing. Err excuse me.. he won the MAC one year with a 5-3 conference record. This is the equivalent of winning state in high school kickball.

If he has a losing record (20-30) in the Special Olympic Basketweaving League aka the MAC, what proof do you have that he'll have a winning record with the big boys?

ilikestuff 11 years, 8 months ago

Wow, you're rather bigoted, asinine and ... The Special Olympics comments really relate your prowess relative to college athletics, sportsmenship and the coaching profession..

Ben Kliewer 11 years, 8 months ago

You're right ZDKC, you're coaching record in the MAC was much better than Gill's.

Ben Kliewer 11 years, 8 months ago

*your on the second "you're" don't want to be incorrect, I do value academics...

hotsteel 11 years, 8 months ago

people who know the least are often the loudest-YES- perkins did not hire bill self. thank god for bern gray-little

gardenjay 11 years, 8 months ago

Gray-Little gets it after all - we're so lucky to have her as a Chancellor.

People who care about academics make the absolute best college sports fans.


Go Gill, show 'em against tech!

bradh 11 years, 8 months ago

We are a negative bunch aren't we? Why do we cut down folks on their way out? It seems like there are a lot of negative comments directed at Mangino, Gill, and Perkins. Mangino and Perkins have done good things for KU, why don't we leave it at that? Hopefully Gill will do as much during his tenure and should be given a chance to put his program in place.

I'm curious why Keating or Marchiony weren't selected as the interim AD. I've seen their names relative to the Athletic Department before, I don't remember ever hearing Lester's name. Seems like Keating or Marchiony would provide the fan base more familiarity and comfort. I'm not complaining, just surprised and curious.

Peety 11 years, 8 months ago

That would have given big alumni absolutely no comfort, to have named either one of them. They were co-conspirators -- or at least enablers -- in the whole big mess.

ilikestuff 11 years, 8 months ago

Gill can't be blamed for fatty's recruits leaving, he did the best he could in his first year and usually the first year, getting hired after the season, etc a coach doesn't tend to have his strongest recruiting classes.

Fatty left KU football like he found it. Even w/the three Amigos last year we didn't win a single conference game. It's not exactly as if Fatty had a football dynasty here and Gill, over the course of 6 months ruined it.

Some of us have lived long enough to see far, far worse football performances than happened on Saturday.

So you're a UNL guy then obviously you knew what sweet revenge it was for Craig Bohl, NDSU coach to beat TG. Bohl was on staff at UNL and got ran out of town on a rail. That man has no love remaining for NU or anything related to it like Gill coaching a D1 team.

Ben Kliewer 11 years, 8 months ago

Did you know that Bo and Osborne also staged the moon landing while simultaneously assassinating JFK? They're also hiding the aliens from us.

Danny Hernandez 11 years, 8 months ago

I for one am sorry to see Lew leave. That's right....he came and kicked some donor butts who were happy with their little contributions and life long floor seats at Allen. Every school that is worth their weight, gives the best seats to those that donate more...Lew got our fundraising to unprecidented levels at Kansas. He got our school in one more ways that one to become relevant. Unfortunately on his watch, some bad apple employees took advantage of our basketball program and stole tickets and lined their pockets.....Is it Lew's fault? I say yes and no but no reason to throw the man under the bus who has only had Kansas's interest at heart...and all you cheapo diks, get off his azz about the travel expenses....he's a CEO of Kansas and should be afforded those perks...same at every other large corporation and look at our athletic revenue before Lew and now!

Chris Bruning 11 years, 8 months ago're so full of it. Bohole wants to be where he is at. where are you sources coming from?

Does anyone have a account? if so who are some of the names they are throwin out there for our new AD???

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