Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Perkins’ reign over: New athletic director must be subject to checks and balances

Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins chews on a cigar after the KU men’s basketball team beat Texas in this file photo from March 3, 2007, at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins chews on a cigar after the KU men’s basketball team beat Texas in this file photo from March 3, 2007, at Allen Fieldhouse.


Reader poll

How would you grade Lew Perkins' tenure at KU Athletics?

  • A 26% 1431 votes
  • B 31% 1719 votes
  • C 15% 824 votes
  • D 12% 681 votes
  • F 14% 779 votes

5434 total votes.


Lew Perkins retires

video thumbnail

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.

Money, the very thing that enabled Lew Perkins to gain such unfettered power during his reign as athletic director of Kansas University, raised its voice, screamed “Enough is enough,” and brought about the end of his reign.

Know this: Perkins’ retirement announcement Tuesday had nothing to do with Saturday night’s embarrassing debut of Lew’s hand-picked football coach, Turner Gill. It had been in the works for weeks.

It had to do with cold, hard cash, which always speaks with such loud pipes. Perkins used to be really good at raising it by sending his most talented tree-shakers, beloved John Hadl foremost among them, out to entice donations.

In the end, one embarrassing revelation after another — the ticket scandal, the exercise equipment installed in Perkins’ Lawrence home, the published report that detailed his lavish spending habits charged to the athletic department, fear that more could be uncovered by the state ethics commission investigating him — so riled the alumni base that the school had to take action and approach Perkins about bypassing his lame-duck year and calling it a day. Donors, big and small alike, lost trust in the athletic department and the university and were heard by scaling back their generosity.

Here’s how such divorces generally take place: The party approached about leaving says, OK, but it’s going to cost you. For argument’s sake, let’s say Perkins’ original offer went something like this, “Give me $3.2 million, and I’ll clean out my office.” The settlement turned out to be $2 million, less than it would have cost the university had Perkins sued and won for being fired without cause.

The lesson to be learned by KU: Never entrust one man with so much power. Always make him accountable. Don’t let him speak through a spokesman. Have checks and balances in place. Remember, always remember, Kansas University is a public institution, not a closed circle, not a private club.

Surprisingly, given all the scandals that surfaced last year, this year, more than ever, the athletic department conducted itself as a private club open only to those who pay a ton of money at the door. For example, the football team had an intrasquad scrimmage that was open only to invited Williams Fund members. Even the press was banned. The in-house propaganda department issued a game report that included mention of a receiver dropping a 50-yard touchdown in the end zone. It did not mention his name. KU would decide what was news and what the general public needed to know.

Reading that redaction of an athlete’s name from a game report gave me chills, brought me all the way back to the sleep-shorted nights of my youth when I stared at the ceiling and feared this would be the night the Soviets would crash through our door and take away all our freedoms. The replaying of the final seconds of the 1972 Olympic basketball gold-medal game until the Soviets scored to win did nothing to allay such fears.

Perkins and his army of loyal adjutants began to show signs of absolute power beginning to corrupt their attitudes when the department reached its highest success, in the days after winning the national title in basketball, a few months after winning the Orange Bowl in a 12-1 season.

Asked about plans for a downtown parade, Jim Marchiony, Perkins’ chief minister of propaganda, said: “We’re going to celebrate the way we want to celebrate. We’re going to do what’s best for our student-athletes.”

Translation: It’s our family, and you’re not part of it.

Perkins’ dictatorship was not without its benevolence. He paid employees well, upgraded facilities to give KU coaches a better shot at recruiting and always had a smile, kind words and sage advice for the student-athletes, the backbone of any athletic department. Perkins was well-liked by those within the athletic department who didn’t cross him, frozen out by those he didn’t consider part of the inner circle within the circle that KU athletics had become.

Many will look at the facilities built under his watch and consider that his legacy, provided not too much debt was run up making that happen. Others will let the success or failure of Gill’s time as coach of the football team determine it.

Years from now, when I look back at the time I spent with Perkins while he was on the job, after the specifics of the building of the new football complex and basketball practice facility, the details of the exercise equipment scandal, etc., fade to black, I’ll clearly remember the way Perkins’ eyes and smile lit up the room as he interacted with Special Olympians during his annual golf tournament that has raised huge bucks for the great cause. Here’s hoping the tourney continues. Perkins might be just the man who could figure out how to bring the 2014 Special Olympics to Lawrence. Nothing ambivalent about that slice of his legacy.


soobawls 11 years, 8 months ago

"the football team had an intrasquad scrimmage that was open only to invited Williams Fund members. Even the press was banned" That is all you need to know about why this story was written. The press does not want anyone but itself lying to people. They alone should be shaping your opinion, because well, their opinion should be your opinion.

WilburNether 11 years, 8 months ago

Good call, soobawls. Suck up to the news media, and they will see, hear, and speak no evil about you. Fail to kowtow sufficiently, and they will gin up any number of reasons to go after you. Bob Woodward has made million$ exploiting that.

kudzutexas 11 years, 8 months ago

Ok, so there was a little hyperbol (or a lot) in Keeg's article. But, the LJW is not the New World Order. As a die hard KU fan trying to be objective (if that's possible) it is time for Lew to go. This past year has been a major distraction and a costly one monetarily and a major hit to KU's prestige. Don't shoot the messenger.

kudzutexas 11 years, 8 months ago

I think Lew's actions and controversies over the past year degraded his reputation and the school.

Rick Arnoldy 11 years, 8 months ago

For once I actually agree with Soobawls. This is about the most sour grapes article I’ve seen Keegan spew.

Benjamin Clay Jones 11 years, 8 months ago

So, soo, a school's AD suddenly resigns and the local sports editor is supposed to keep mum about it the next day?

cobweb 11 years, 8 months ago

Cheaters are finally being exposed across all sports. There will be more to come IMO.

NorthStarHawk 11 years, 8 months ago

What an unbelievable concoction of journalistic hype; "in-house propoganda", "dictatorship", childhood angst (??), "its our family and your not part of it", the "Soviets"!!!????. Good grief Keegan, did ole Lew not bow down to your level of self-entitlement and kiss your mighty media ring. Soobawls is on point about why this article was written. It was crap like this why, when I was a student, the LJW was always referred to as the "Lawrence Urinal World". I guess not much changes over time after all. And Keegan, it's not like you have to set block type to print a story anymore, but when are you going to stop disrespecting the official name of the university, the "University of Kansas"? If there was no institution here, your a$$ wouldn't have a job. Respect goes two ways, sir.

NorthStarHawk 11 years, 8 months ago

You obviously missed the point of my comment, but since you don't know what you're talking about I'll give you a pass. Ole Lew started at KU in 2003. Keegan, I recall, started at LJW in the summer or early fall of 2005. Continue to enjoy drinking Mr. Keegan's kool-aid....."fool".

selfishhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

I agree with Northstar: Keegan has revealed himself to be a pathetic, bitter, self-entitled sports fan with a pen. Lew did great things for this University and I will miss his leadership. I know he rubbed people the wrong way, but that had to happen to get KU where it needed to go - a big time sports program with money in the coffers. We are now closer to that because of Lew. In athletics as in life, the old gray hairs never want things to change. Unfortuantely for them, they always do. People like Tuttle wanted the $500 their dad gave in 1953 to ensure that they always had choice seats at AFH. That's fine, but the reality is that big time athletics costs money, and lots of it. Do I love that KU is more corporate? No. But I sure don't miss the days when we had to yell at the old gray hairs with choice seating and $14 in their pocket to stand up and cheer! Those are the same folks who have been crying during Lew's tenure.

Rock Chalk

kutravis 11 years, 8 months ago should check your timeline again....Lew joined KU in 2003. Keegan didn't start at the LJWorld until 2005. So I would say that Keegan had ample opportunity to understand how the althletic department operates under Lew's reign.

Additionally, I would go as far as to add that given the vast improvements to Allen Fieldhouse, Memorial Stadium, the addition of new practice facilities for both the basketball and football team along with the increased revenue the althetic department incurred during Lew's Tenure are hardly a "dark cloud". While the recent developments of excessive expenses, the ticket scandel, etc are a sore subject, they shouldn't be used to discredit or negate the overall positive reach Lew had for the school.

And hey, At least we don't have Al Bohl anymore!

Clarence Haynes 11 years, 8 months ago

I am hoping that LJW now clears Keegan's desk.

Mangino_Maniac 11 years, 8 months ago

A simple question... are KU faithful more proud or embarrassed these days?

Jaminrawk 11 years, 8 months ago

The only issue I have with everyone wanting to go the opposite direction is the fear that KU will hire a weak AD. The AD is the CEO of one of the top revenue generatinging avenues of the university. Say what you will about Lew, he brought in much more than he ever spent. He took KU's budget from laughingstock to the upper tier of the conference. He improved facilities for many of the team sports, and he reigned over great success in basketball and football. The ticket scandal and Mangino abuse saga were awful, but a knee-jerk reaction to those two things could be bad for the future of the department.

Kevin Kelly 11 years, 8 months ago

Nail things down in the office before he leaves. Check his car for toilet paper.

Benjamin Piehler 11 years, 8 months ago

this is from the kc star today;

"Tommy Tuberville openly campaigned for the job (KU FB head coach), and despite a solid resume that included a 13-0 record and national coach of the year award at Auburn in 2004. Perkins wouldn't take his call. Tuberville is now at Texas Tech making $500,000 less than Gill is making."

I must have missed this part of the coach recruiting process, but somehow we chose a coach who went 20-32 the last 5 years... how did this happen?

Benjamin Piehler 11 years, 8 months ago

im assuming his success didnt last too long; but its the SEC, so i don't think its too surprising.

Larry Smith 11 years, 8 months ago

What they fail to mention is that Tommy Tubberville openly campaigned for every open job out there. Tech hired him because they didn't want to pay anyone (thats why they ran Leach off), and Tubby took the job, because he couldn't find one anywhere else.

Alan Williams 11 years, 8 months ago

because of Lew "Moron Extraordinaire" Perkins

honk_for_hawks 11 years, 8 months ago

i'm sure somebody already mentioned this, but why does he insist on calling the university by the wrong name. It is "The University of Kansas", not "Kansas University".

Kyle Rohde 11 years, 8 months ago

It's a silly, long-standing LJW style rule and not something of Keegan's doing. They've always referred to KU as Kansas University and refuse to change. Drives me nuts too.

caribhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

Farewell to Lew and all his excesses! Keegan and all sportwriters have one of the easiest job in the world, they write opinion for which they usually do not need to back up with facts or research. Keegan is guilty of the same "excesses" from a journalistic standpoint. Gill made $400,000 at Buffalo & KU pays him $2.1, the same as Mangino was paid. Mostly this was a parting shot at Mangino, since I assume Gill would have taken the job for just over $1 m. At the time Gill was hired, he was making more $$ than Bo Pelini (who has since received a raise), Bill Snyder, Gary Patterson, Jim Leavitt and others....Lew and KU's hiring committee was a farce in ignoring Tuberville and others, and now we are beginning to see the negative impacts of this end run to hire Gill.

Danny Hernandez 11 years, 8 months ago

Lew should stay and Keegan should go! Lew raised large funds to build our athletics to the stage it is now....those facilities would never have been built had it not been for Lew.....

Tommy Tubberville would have wanted any open job and no one wanted him for a reason...he's not that good and this year will show why. I'm glad we didn't hire the so-so coach he is...

I will hold off my donations this year until a new AD is in place. If Lew was still there, I'd continue to donate but not for the exercise equipment, give me a break! I don't condemn Lew for his travel expenses either....How does the AD of UT or OU travel? Why compare Lew to Kstate's or mu's lowly AD's?

ZDKC 11 years, 8 months ago

Tuberville went to 8 bowls in 10 years for Auburn and was well over .500 for every season except his last. FYI... this was in the SEC see too, a football powerhouse.

Kevin Kelly 11 years, 8 months ago

The expenses and the equipment are the nail in the coffin. I want him gone because of the MASSIVE FRAUD that happened under his watch. There are only two excuses for the amount of missing money via the ticket office. He was either part of it or he's completely incompetent. Either way...considering the embarrassments that are piling up at this school....

Don't let the door hit you on the way out!

JBurtin 11 years, 8 months ago

I just wholeheartedly agreed with a mulaza comment.

I must be coming down with something.

Dan Harris 11 years, 8 months ago

i think I drank too much cough syrup because I for once agree with mulaza too!!

Spencer Goff 11 years, 8 months ago

"Asked about plans for a downtown parade, Jim Marchiony, Perkins’ chief minister of propaganda, said: “We’re going to celebrate the way we want to celebrate. We’re going to do what’s best for our student-athletes.”

Translation: It’s our family, and you’re not part of it."

Your argument is devoid of reasoning, it is a falicy of poor logic. I was invited to a parade. I was invited to a celebraction at Memorial Statdium. Pretty big leap of faith to try and say they excluded me from that national title. In short, the translation is not supported by the original statement.

I would be all for supporting Lew Perkins and Co. losing themselves to the authority of power. However, with all the evidence surrounding Lew you chose probably one of the least viable and least true.

GoodGrief 11 years, 8 months ago

Hold on a minute, Krohnutz. Keegs is actually spot on here. The Athletics Department originally stated that they had no intentions of holding a parade. Observe:

It was only after numerous fans (myself included) and community leaders spoke up that the Athletics Department agreed to let a downtown parade take place.

You should probably check your facts before labeling Mr. Keegan's argument as "devoid of reasoning."

You might also want to consult a dictionary before making critical posts - your statement that someone has "poor logic" seems less credible considering your creative spelling of the word "fallacy." Food for thought. . .

ZDKC 11 years, 8 months ago

While your argument is sound, outing a man for grammar/spelling brings two words to mind. Good grief!

This is a message board, not an English composition class.

murph 11 years, 8 months ago

Sorry, Z. If you want people who are affiliated with an institution of higher education to take you seriously, you MUST be literate. It's the least we ask before we consider your breadth of knowledge about anything. Otherwise, you're just background noise. Good grief, yourself.

Ron Franklin 11 years, 8 months ago

At least our AD didnt put a secret 3 million dollar buyout clause in the contract of a lousy football coach.

murph 11 years, 8 months ago

Do we know he didn't? Time will tell.

Kevin Kelly 11 years, 8 months ago

So as long as the facilities improve....he can just bring people in to steal whatever they want? He improved the WAS HIS JOB! You know what wasn't in his job title? Are our standards really so low that we take anyone who does his job better than the last AD gets a pass on massive fraud?

jaybate 11 years, 8 months ago

Part I

"In Which a Sports Editor Finishes Off an AD to Stay in Good with the Long Timers and Instill Some Fear"

(Alias' Note: I don't know diddly squat about how good, or bad, of a person and AD Lew Perkins really is and was. I also don't know diddly spit about how good, or how bad, of a person and sports editor Tom Keegan really is and has been. All I can do is, like the rest of board rat-dom, speculate and opine on appearances. Nothing below is factual, or meant to be taken as anything but opining and trying to make sense of what appears to be a story written as a product of some apparent (but unarticuated) bad blood between Tom Keegan and Lew Perkins)

How does an experienced sports editor help the Long Timers clear their wakes of an AD that kept KU on the sports map and who enlarged the dollar sign used to mark its location? Let me count the ways in the story above.

  1. Get a headline that implies Lew was out of control.

  2. Run a stale (2007), unflattering (emphasize the dent in his nose) picture of Lew smoking a gar and looking like an arrogant sports czar full of himself.

  3. Lead with the word "Money" to imply that Lew was way more corrupt than most.

  4. Follow with "Enough is enough" in quotations, so even doubters get the negative message planted through repetition.

  5. Next: smear Lew's loyalists with guilt by association; i.e., call Jim Marchiony "Perkins’ chief minister of propaganda."

  6. Associate Lew indirectly with Soviets by saying actions on Lew's watch made Keegs recall his youthful fears of Commie Roooskies "redacting" news. "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming." Sure, Tom. And Osama didn't die of kidney failure shortly after crossing the border into Pakistan back in 2001.

  7. Then call Lew's reign "Perkins Dictatorship," but do so without quotes, so a casual reader might misinterpret it as fact.

The above seven items, and so much more in Tom's story, evidence the clumsy sort of technique a guy who may have attended an editor's retreat, or gets taught a few tricks by a particularly slimy media consultant, or trained under an asset when starting out at ESPN, might resort to in a situation like this one. The clumsy technique betrays an amateur. It is ridiculously heavy-handed. Tom is using a psy-op/MISO nuke to clear the wake of a flea he didn't like.

Keegs, you flippin' psy-ops, er, MISO amateur, cut it out. Leave the psy-ops, er, MISO, to the pros at The Pentagon and The Company. By the way, they've already changed the name from psy-ops (Psychological Operations) to MISO (aka Military Information Support and/to Operations).

jaybate 11 years, 8 months ago

Part II

Try what at least appears to be a some what closer guesstimate of truth, Tom. Maybe you dislike Lew. Maybe like most everyone else you cover (including many players as soon as they leave), Lew makes way more money than you and works somewhat less hard for it--in your mind, anyway. Maybe treated you without much respect, because he read you like a book and knew you would stick a knife in his back for clicks and access favors, whenever you thought you could get away with it. Maybe you've decided that Chancellor Bernie and Bob Hemenway are the long-timers you want to suck up to most and that Bill Self is apt to leave in not too long now that Lew is making tracks. Maybe you decided to really clear Perk from Chancellor Bernie and former Chancellor Hemenway's wakes and do so in a sensationally vindictive way. Maybe you decided to stick it to Perkins-apologist and loyalist Bill Self indirectly by tarring and feathering the man Self has backed so strongly, so to be in position to give Self a taste of the same, when he pulls the plug. Maybe you are trying to become a feared journalist in the KU bureaucracy, someone who can help, or really hurt in bureaucratic infighting. It is, afterall, how ink-stained, and now pixel-burned wretches, have often tried to advance. Y

Whatever, and intentionally or not, you have apparently done your part to reduce KU's AD job to one only a do-nothing bureaucrat will want. And you are apparently about to do the same to KU Head Coaching job.

(Note of Repetion in a quest to invoke the imitative fallacy): all the above speculation and hypothesizing of Tom's behavior is predicated on "appearances," not fact. I have no knowledge of Tom's actual intentions. I can only opine on the impressions and appearances his writing in this story and thread above suggests.)

Repetition of an assertion in hopes it will be believed is apparently how the game is played.

Repetition of an assertion in hopes it will be believed is apparently how the game is played.

Repetition of an assertion in hopes it will be believed is apparently how the game is played.

Repetition of an assertion in hopes it will be believed is apparently how the game is played.





shelleysue 11 years, 8 months ago

If memory serves, Mangino was pushing for better facilities from the day he arrived and pretty aggressively. Even Mangino haters have to admit that winning was a huge part in getting those facilities built. People are more generous with their money when a program is winning. Lew facilitated it all and did what he was paid to do, but he certainly didn't do it all.

I will give Lew credit for getting KU in the Orange Bowl game though because I think his promoting of KU and it's fans is what got us there.

As for the ticket scandal, I agree: He was either aware of it or totally incompetent. And knowing Lew and how his ego puts him in the middle of absolutely everything, I find it hard to believe the latter. My opinion.

Good things happened during Lew's time at KU but it's impossible to think about only those things considering the negative things he brought as well.

kwahyajjj 11 years, 8 months ago

Somebody please tell me what position Lew Perkins played. I keep hearing he took us to the orange bowl. Please what was his number? I can't find him in the programs anywhere.

ZDKC 11 years, 8 months ago

I hate to say it, but, Mizzou should have gone that year. They had beat us head to head, and had the better ranking. They went to the Cotton Bowl, we went to the Orange Bowl. The reason? Lew Perkins.

I'm glad we had the world's best sport executive on our side in that situation.

kycamp0 11 years, 8 months ago

Am I the only person that can agree with both sides here? I mean, he did help improve fundraising, our facilities, and our program's prestige but in the last year or so, the KU athletic dept. has been shrouded in controversy and has been an embarrassment, so I take the bad with the good. The 07-08 seasons in FB and BB were amazing but looking back I wouldn't trade an Orange Bowl victory or a NC for anything, even a win against lowly NDSU. Again I think there were significant improvements under Lew's watch but I don't think he did it the right way or in the most ethical manner so I'm not taking sides but rather moving on and I hope our next AD can make the moves that will give us the best chance to play in another BCS bowl game in the next 3-5 years.

jaybate Rulz!!!

notigers4me 11 years, 8 months ago

It's always amazing how quickly people are willing to look the other way when it comes to athletics and money. As far as I am concerned Lew Perkins forgot who he really worked for and that would be all of us who actually live in Kansas and paid taxes. He also worked for the students and the parents who paid their tuition, He should have been gone the moment that the ticket scandal became public. Let's don't forget who hired those people who also allowed greed to become their God and of course the people who bought the tainted tickets. This story isn't about the Journal World and their employees but about all of us whose trust in Perkins and staff was violated. Lew had nothing to do about the Orange bowl or the national title both coaches were hired by someone other than Perkins. He did however hire the people who decided it was their right to screw all of the tax payers of Kansas. My parting thought is all of the people who got caught and those who have yet to be caught stealing must of learned from the best Lew Perkins.

jayhawkwz 11 years, 8 months ago

Unless I am mistaken Lew wasn't paid by the University (i.e. taxes, tuition, so forth). He was paid by Kansas Athletics, Inc. So he didn't really work for Kansans. He worked for those who donated to athletics and his job was to benefit the athletic department. There is no question he did that very well!

Rick Arnoldy 11 years, 8 months ago

"This story isn't about the Journal World and their employees" Puhleaze. Tom Keegan is a tool. It's no secret that the LJW has many Misery employees and the whole purpose of the paper is to rile the fans. This was a vendetta piece, plain and simple.

jayhawkintexas 11 years, 8 months ago

Lew did a great job of fundraising and building facilities. Unfortunately, the ticket scandal and his selection of coaches (Bonnie Hendrickson and Turner Gill) were not strong points. Overall, I think he was good for KU and I wish him the best.

Funhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

That picture up above is kind of creepy.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.