Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Self: KU in much better place than 8 years ago

Sean Lester, left, an associate athletics director, is introduced as the interim athletics director Tuesday at KU. KU men's basketball coach Bill Self also attended the press conference with Lester. In a statement on the Kansas University website Tuesday, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and Athletic Director Lew Perkins announced that Perkins will retire, effective immediately.

Sean Lester, left, an associate athletics director, is introduced as the interim athletics director Tuesday at KU. KU men's basketball coach Bill Self also attended the press conference with Lester. In a statement on the Kansas University website Tuesday, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and Athletic Director Lew Perkins announced that Perkins will retire, effective immediately.


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

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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.

Bill Self made it perfectly clear Tuesday that he’s not a candidate to replace Lew Perkins as athletic director at Kansas University.

“No, no,” KU’s eighth-year basketball coach said with a laugh.

He was speaking while walking back to his office following a late-afternoon news conference at Allen Fieldhouse — one called to introduce Sean Lester as KU’s interim AD and to allow the media to get the 2008 NCAA title coach’s take on Perkins’ leaving his post a year ahead of an announced retirement date.

While not offering any speculation on possible candidates, Self at the news conference did respond to a question about what KU might be looking for in its next AD.

“I think that person in all honesty — like any athletic director across America — needs to be a person of very high energy and understand that the product that we have here is great,” Self said.

“I’ve said this to Lew and to our chancellor — the athletic directorship at the University of Kansas is a far better position today than it was eight years ago. I do believe we should be able to attract the perfect fit for us and what we’re looking for. To me, you could split hairs — this is what we definitely need, this is what we don’t need — I am not going into that. I want somebody who will come in here and love this place as much as we love it and also be able to sell it and have a passion about it. I think there would be a lot of people out there very interested in doing that.”

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little phoned Self at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday to tell the coach of Perkins’ decision to step down. After that, Self phoned Perkins for a short conversation with his former boss.

“I think the chancellor, with the help of Sean and a group of others, will have her arms pretty well wrapped around it,” Self said of the upcoming search.

“If she wants my input, certainly I would be very, very happy to give it,” added Self, “but I don’t think there is any way, shape or form that I am in a position to bring candidates to the table at all. I would certainly give my input if she asked for it, but I’m not one out (there) campaigning for anybody.”

Self was encouraged after speaking to the chancellor.

“There is a plan, and from what I understand and from what I know, the plan is good,” Self said, not revealing the chancellor’s plan. “It’s definitely a transitional period, but it’s also a period of great opportunity. I’m not really excited about the timing, but I am excited about the direction.”

He said he was “very surprised but not shocked,” to hear from the chancellor.

“We knew it was coming, but surprised by the timing of it,” Self said. “To be honest with you, I thought this would not drag out into next September. That was just my thought. I had no reason to base that on what people told me. I thought from a timing situation, that would be strange timing (new AD taking over in September of a new school year).”

Self said Perkins didn’t inform him of his own personal future plans.

Perkins recently told the Journal-World he would be living in Lawrence during retirement.

“During the three- to five-minute phone call we had this morning, we didn’t really go into that stuff,” Self said. “I do think this. He’s been in the business a long time, and he’s served several universities very well. I think that with everything that has taken place here in the last 12 months and the microscope, so to speak, that he and the department have been under, I hope he takes some time to himself and his family to relax. I think he has deserved that.”

Football coach Turner Gill gave his take in a statement: “I know that Lew Perkins is a man of vision. He came to the University of Kansas and has made each sport better in terms of athletics and academics. He has improved the facilities to aid in recruiting student-athletes to this great institution. He has taken into account the welfare of many coaches, staff and student-athletes in such a way that he will be missed by everyone. I hope the best for Gwen and Lew. I know that they will enjoy spending time with family and friends.”

KU associate AD John Hadl spoke to the Journal-World Tuesday night: “Obviously I was shocked. I had no idea that was coming. Lew and I have talked lately about what was going on, the plans. He did a lot of good things for KU and the athletic department. We accomplished a lot of big agendas. You’ve got to give him credit for that. I think he’ll be more relaxed now, feel good about what he’s been doing and enjoy life.

“He’s been in this business a long time — at Maryland, Connecticut, Wichita State. He’s been around the horn. He understands the business pretty well.

“He’s happy being here. I know Gwen (Perkins’ wife) likes it here. I think the timing was right for him to do what he did.”

KU baseball coach Ritch Price on Perkins: “For me personally and for Kansas baseball, it’s been a real honor and a privilege to work for him. I look at all the successes he’s had in the last seven years from the facility improvements to the Hall of Fame additions and renovations to Allen Fieldhouse and the Anderson Sports Complex down at the football field, Hoglund Ballpark improvements.

“He’s left an incredible legacy. You look at his 42 years in this business ... I don’t know if there’s an athletic director in America who has had a more successful career.”


DarthJayhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

Way to go, Lew. First you killed football at Wichita State, now you've effectively killed it at KU.

TenaciousD 11 years, 10 months ago

From reading above, obviously all of the coaches disagree with you. But you probably know better than they do.

Larry Smith 11 years, 10 months ago

Maybe the left over talent from a team that went 1-7 in conference play last year was the reason for this first loss. But hey, lets blame it all on Lew. After all, he has been doing the recruiting for the last 3 years.

yates33333 11 years, 10 months ago

Not a bad idea, but would he? He is the type of person who can make the adjustment from the pros to college. He has energy and brains. Anyway Okies have been pretty useful for the University of Kansas.

kujayhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

Great idea, let's replace one narcissistic AD with another one.

jhyphene 11 years, 10 months ago

I loved Pritchard as a point guard, but I think KU needs someone with more qualifications than an understanding of the triple-threat stance and how to slide your feet on defense to be AD. I listened to 610AM this morning and they had a great list of candidates KU should shoot for...albeit maybe a bit aggressive, I liked the perspective. Go get someone who is going to be able to steer the ship to raise money, achieve academically, hire great coaches, and do it all legally...not to mention navigate another threat of conference realignment. 610 mentioned ADs from Stanford, Oklahoma, Florida, Texas A&M, Ohio State and North Carolina as the caliber KU should be looking at. They went on to say that this KU job is a big time job pays like a big time job (which is how Perkins got here in the first place)...this is no longer a job you hand off to a banker, or former player, or alumn who is now an executive at another company, or the assistant at a lower tier school, or somebody like Al Bohl. This is a very important hire for KU. I really hope they get it right like they did when they hired Perkins. For all the negative stuff, there are a lot of positives about his tenure.

HalsteadHawk 11 years, 10 months ago

Pritchard was also a GM for Portland. I'd like to see us take a shot at R.C. Buford, I doubt he would leave the Spurs but he'd make a great AD.

Rick Arnoldy 11 years, 10 months ago

I think it says a lot for Lew and for Lawrence that he wants to retire in Lawrence.

Phoggin_Loud 11 years, 10 months ago

Regardless of the personal feelings towards Lew, he was a great hire. He flubbed some things up, but KU is on better financial footing moving forward.

No one wanted the embarrassment of recent issues, but I appreciate his contribution to KU Athletics.

mobyrock 11 years, 10 months ago

Speaking of Perkins stepping down in 2011: "I thought from a timing situation, that would be strange timing (new AD taking over in September of a new school year)." - Bill Self

Of course, isn't that exactly what is happening?

Phoggin_Loud 11 years, 10 months ago

It makes me wonder if the person is already identified & Lew is helping to get that person in now.

FairgroveJayhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

"I want somebody who will come in here and love this place as much as we love it and also be able to sell it and have a passion about it."

I'm in.

steamboat 11 years, 10 months ago

Amen to that. Lew put KU on solid ground. They have big shoes to fill.

honk_for_hawks 11 years, 10 months ago

Honestly i have no idea of the similarities/differences between a GM job and an AD job, but as other people have said, they wouldn't leave those jobs anyway. I guess Pritchard is a possibility since he isn't employed with a new team yet, but R.C. is considered probably THE best GM in the league (Him, Pritchard, Sam Presti, Riley come to mind as the top guys) My point is this: we can't pay them what the league can pay them and it would be downright stupid to leave a post you know you're good at for a job you MIGHT be good at that makes less money. I know this is pretty obvious, but they should shoot for big names with KU ties. We can shoot for all the big names, but someone who went to KU or lived here before is going to probably be better with our alumni base. Another big must: NO FISHINESS IN THEIR PAST. I don't know Perkins so I have no idea how good or bad of a guy he is, but we need a guy with a clean image. I'm tired of people trying to say we have a crooked athletics department because of the issues we've had the past few months. All that being said, Lew may have been a greedy AD who went after every dollar at the expense of fans and local businesses (Arrowhead games anyone?), but he did help us to get brand new facilities for basketball, football, women's rowing, and probably more that I'm not thinking of. He also made a great hire in Bill Self and that in itself should be a good enough reason to say he did a good job.

honk_for_hawks 11 years, 10 months ago

You know. You're right. I might be a few months off. I could have sworn he did. I'll check it though.

honk_for_hawks 11 years, 10 months ago

Okay. So I gave Big Lew too much credit. Bill Self was hired by the interim AD between Bohl and Perkins. A guy named Drue Jennings. Self was hired late April of 2003, Lew didn't get hired until June

lee3022 11 years, 10 months ago

I applaud Lew for his many accomplishments across the board in KU athletics. He gave KU financial stability and engendered a sense of trust. I have no candidate to tout to replace Lew. I am sure the search committee will choose wisely.

So thank you Lew - enjoy a well-earned retirement.

gardenjay 11 years, 10 months ago

Attention Chancellor: you need, actually are required to have Sean's help. Need to keep the meat where it's at. Oops, oh yeah, never end a sentence in a preposition.

Yes, in many manners of speaking things are much better than they were 8 years ago. Salaries at KUAD, not to mention Self's, are MUCH HIGHER. What is the 'wonderful product' we have here? It's a......duh....a UNIVERSITY. It's not a corporation that exploits the jayhawk to make icky-poo profit to hire high-roller athletic department self-serving corporotrons that run even the idea of university into the ground. What a laugh - the whole house of cards just fell down, Lew is taking off, and there is much back slapping going on by the benefactors. Nothing new here.

Good luck Chancellor - it looks like you have a few more greased watermelons in the swimming pool to struggle with.

Michael Bratisax 11 years, 9 months ago

Bring in GM of Portland, he has the experience plus the loyalty.

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