Friday, May 25, 2012

Kansas Athletics, Inc., board discusses Big 12 growth


Conference realignment and Big 12 expansion continues to be one of the hot topics of discussion across the country, and both came up Thursday at the regularly scheduled Kansas Athletics, Inc., Board of Directors meeting.

However, while wild speculation about the Big 12 adding new members makes for exciting conversation, the conference is not the only thing that may be growing.

According to the financial report presented by senior associate athletics director Sean Lester at Thursday’s meeting, the cost of team travel is expected to increase by half a million dollars during the coming school year.

“There are several areas that the team travel budget is up,” said chief financial officer Pat Kaufman, who replaced the retired Susan Wachter and began working at KU on April 2. “The primary reason is the cost of fuel. That will impact both air and bus transportation.”

Kaufman was at Thursday’s meeting to help clarify the report he spent countless hours working on during the past couple of months. He also received high praise from Lester.

“Patrick brought several nuances to this,” Lester told the board. “After having the same person look at it for so many years, now we’ve got someone new looking at it, and that’s refreshing.”

To this point, KU has shelled out nearly $4.5 million on travel expenses for the fiscal year. The budgeted amount for next year is just under $5.1 million.

Lester offered another reason for the expected increase — the Big 12’s addition of West Virginia, which is located in more remote Morgantown, W.V., roughly 900 miles away from KU’s campus.

“You want to talk about costs of team travel,” Lester said. “That’s a big one.”

Thursday’s meeting, this year’s final gathering of the quarterly sessions, moved relatively fast and featured a number of quick-hitter updates from both athletic director Sheahon Zenger and chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

Zenger, during his AD’s comments, praised the men’s and women’s basketball teams for outstanding seasons and also tipped his cap to the baseball, softball and track and field teams for their continued progress. During his mention of the baseball program, Lester provided a live update of KU’s victory against Texas during the second day of the Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City.

Zenger also praised KU football coach Charlie Weis for his ability to connect with alumni and fans during a recent nine-day tour of Kansas which wrapped up Wednesday night in Kansas City.

“I can assure you,” Zenger said. “From Dodge City to Kansas City, the Jayhawk faithful are alive and well.”

So, too, is the Big 12 Conference, which Gray-Little seemed overjoyed to point out.

“The conference situation seems to be going well,” she said of the continued growth and stability of the league. “I think we have a really good relationship between our old members and the new members (TCU and West Virginia) and we’re hopeful that it will continue to go smoothly. We’re at the beginning of a very good time for the conference.”

After mowing through the first few agenda items in less than 20 minutes, the board went into executive session for 56 minutes and emerged with a motion to allow Zenger to sign off on the designing and planning of athletic facilities. The motion passed. At one point, Brad Nachtigal, associate AD for capital projects, left the executive session briefly and returned with an oversized sheet of paper folded in half. It was not known whether Thursday’s executive session discussion related to the Olympic Village proposal of the past or more recent talk about a new facility in northwest Lawrence.


Laurence Cooley 10 years, 6 months ago

i really hope this pertains to the athletic village. that would be huge for those sports. and it would spearhead a move to make some changes to memorial.

Ryan Mullen 10 years, 6 months ago

We do have seats in the, "hole". Very comfortable also.

Ryan Mullen 10 years, 6 months ago

It's the University of Kansas not Kansas University.

Ian Legler 10 years, 6 months ago

Read the chat with Matt Tait from yesterday ... He makes a comment about that. Nothing to get all worked up about. If we didn't want to be known as Kansas University as well as "The University of Kansas" don't you think we'd have changed around the "KU" logo when they re-vamped it?

ampthatman 10 years, 6 months ago

Kansas Athletics? Uh, it's the Athletics of Kansas.

troutsee 10 years, 6 months ago

Memorial stadium should be enclosed. Make it a true big time football staduim and forget about the view of the hill. Either we want to become a big time football program or we want to continue as we are and continue to make the football program play second fiddle to nostalgia.

Steve Hillyer 10 years, 6 months ago

We need to fill the seats we have now before we think about adding more.

Luke Kay 10 years, 6 months ago

I agree with both comments. I remember growing up in Lawrence and how much fun it was on the hill and being able to watch part of the game. Now its blocked by the screen and advertisements partially to keep people from doing just that. The university wants to keep the hill while taking it away at the same time. But I totally agree, whats the point of adding more seats when we dont use the ones we have?

TxJyHwk 10 years, 6 months ago

Its not about the nostalgia of sitting on the hill during games....its about the commencement ceremony.....walking down the hill to graduate

danmoore 10 years, 6 months ago

When the time comes to add seats, add them to the north end and keep the view of the hill intact. It looks awesome on TV.

FSUJHAWK 10 years, 6 months ago

Matt, you're extremely professional and a good man! Thanks for the omission of that inaccurate, outdated and reviled term. See, that was hard now was it?

Thanks again.


PS, great RE the "secret" plans.

FSUJHAWK 10 years, 6 months ago

PS, great News re the "secret" plans.

WS 10 years, 6 months ago

Zenger, lets save the pats on the back for Weiss for a few years, he hasnt done anything yet, also why is Sean Lester still employed by KU?

Bville Hawk 10 years, 6 months ago

Why shouldn't he be? He stepped up and ran the show in the interim between Perkins and Zenger and apparently did a creditable job. What is your beef?

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 6 months ago

Based on yesterday's reasoning as to why it's called "Kansas University" why don't we call the "Big 12" the "Big 8"?

As for our budget concerns, eliminate the track program as a whole. There I just saved you millions of dollars in scholarship, travel, and facility upgrades expenses. You're welcome!

Last, the folded paper was finalized plans for an execution order to be carried out by ahpersealteam6. Let's just say the Board will be watching live from the situation room as I, eh-hem, renegotiate a recent buyout.

Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo

bradynsdad 10 years, 6 months ago

Wow this whole "Kansas University" to the "university of Kansas" argument is amazing. Seriously do you guys really care that much? This is the second most pointless argument I have ever heard, the first was who the coolest kid sitting at the nerds table was. To each his own on what you call it. Really just amazing how much time has been spent on this argument.

Ryan Mullen 10 years, 6 months ago

Would you rather us get into an argument about gay rights, or abortion?

lothario64118 10 years, 6 months ago

The fact that you have Obama as your avatar strongly suggests you are in favor of both gay rights, or abortion. What's to discuss?

Joel Hood 10 years, 6 months ago

Wait what?? Gays on death row have the right to an abortion?

741hawk 10 years, 6 months ago

I'm on record since 1986: "Tear Out the Track."

danmoore 10 years, 6 months ago

I'm in favor of only basketball and football competing in the Big 12. The remaining sports can compete only with schools that can be accessed by bus thereby reducing travel costs.

JHawk74 10 years, 6 months ago

The above statement is one of the most idiotic ideas I've ever heard. If we stop traveling for all other sports besides basketball and football. The University of Kansas enrollment of athletes will drop for sure. Why would you want to play baseball, volleyball or golf at KU if you can only travel to ISU, KSU, OSU and OU in the Big 12 conference? TCU, Texas, Texas Tech and WVU would be too far to travel with a bus.

Ryan Mullen 10 years, 6 months ago

I say only give scholarships to basketball and football students. Stop all other sports and focus on just those two. No one cares about volleyball, cricket, swimming, or golf. Just get rid of everything but the two money makers.

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