Al Bohl on Tuesday denied reports he was leaving his post as Kansas University's athletic director and blamed the media for portraying him as feuding with KU men's basketball coach Roy Williams.
"You guys have been writing it like it's a case that Bohl has to go so Roy can stay," Bohl said. "I've had so many (people) down in New Orleans saying, 'Al, what the heck is going on with all those rumors?'"
It has been rumored Williams, who has been linked to the coaching vacancy at North Carolina, would stay at Kansas only if Bohl left. UNC is Williams' alma mater, and it has been said he more likely would accept a UNC offer if Bohl remained at KU.
Chancellor Robert Hemenway, Bohl's boss and the man who would
fire or otherwise replace him, repeatedly declined to comment when asked whether he would fire Bohl or ask him to resign.
"I'm just not going to comment on that," Hemenway said Tuesday evening.
It has been reported Hemenway was told as long as six weeks ago Williams said there was no room for negotiation: Either Bohl would be fired or replaced, or Williams would leave.
Hemenway reportedly said he would take no action until the Jayhawks' season ended, not wanting to take attention away from the team. However, sources close to the chancellor said he might not have anticipated the season would last so long and that he could not have known about the North Carolina vacancy.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said the chancellor had spoken with Bohl, possibly with the hope Bohl would resign. Now there is concern that Hemenway has taken too long, and the delay might play in Williams' decision.
But Bohl said Tuesday he still was doing the job he was hired to do at Kansas, and that included working with Williams.
"I did come here to enhance all of our athletic programs, to light a fire under all of our athletic programs, and that's what we are doing, no matter how much I'm maliciously attacked," he said.
Asked about the Williams-UNC question, Bohl said, "We have not been contacted by North Carolina."
He said the university was working to ensure Williams remained head coach at KU.
"We also want to make sure we're doing everything we can to keep our basketball program the elite program in America," Bohl said. "Roy and I just talked a few weeks ago, we sat down, and we were going to meet at the end of the season to see what other things we can do."
The roots of the reported disagreement between Bohl and Williams, Bohl said, stretched back to his firing of Terry Allen as head football coach in November 2001. Williams and Allen were close allies in the KU athletic department.
Bohl also succeeded former athletic director Bob Frederick, who hired Williams at KU. In February, Williams said he had not had the same kind of relationship with Bohl that he had with Frederick.
Observers have noted a chilly relationship between Bohl and Hemenway the past two weeks. Jayhawk basketball fans may have noticed that during jersey-retirement ceremonies this season, Bohl and Williams did not share the court. Bohl was at the microphone and on the court only after Williams had departed.
At Tuesday's welcome home ceremony for the Jayhawks, Bohl and Williams shared the stage, but Bohl did not speak.
Bohl, who arrived at Topeka's Forbes Field with the team after its trip from the NCAA championship game Monday night in New Orleans, departed Forbes separately from the team and traveled to Lawrence with his wife.
KU football coach Mark Mangino also is said to be unhappy with Bohl's leadership. Others who work in the athletic department are known to observe whether Bohl's vehicle is in the parking lot when they arrive. If it's not, they take one route to their offices; if it is, they take another.
Responding to reports in Kansas City media Tuesday that Richard Konzem or John Hadl, both KU associate athletic directors, would be appointed to replace Bohl, most insiders are saying either may be picked as an interim director, but not a permanent replacement.
Konzem was an active candidate during the search from which Bohl was selected. Hadl is interested and long has wanted a management position.
Williams might favor them because he is familiar with them and likely does not want a long, drawn-out search.
Williams is known to have favored one of the three finalists other than Bohl, but both the other finalists have run into difficulties in their positions and are not likely to be considered.