Now in his third month on the job, Kansas University athletic director Lew Perkins might speak softly at times, but he always carries a big stick. Perkins has been unafraid to step on toes since taking over July 7 for Al Bohl.
For example, Perkins has refused to exclude faculty from a planned points seating system for Allen Fieldhouse. Also, he had said he wasn't thrilled Free State High was playing its 2003 home football games at Memorial Stadium.
And Perkins has more or less cleared the deck of high-level department administrators and brought in hand-picked successors, including one of his sons-in-law.
"I've made it very clear -- probably too clear to some people -- we're going to make changes in the way we do business," Perkins told the KU Athletic Corp. board last week.
Another of the changes, the Journal-World has learned, is to pay his top administrators much higher salaries than their predecessors.
Keating at $145,000
Larry Keating, Perkins' new senior associate athletic director, was hired last month at an annual salary of $145,000. That's $50,000 more than Richard Konzem, the man he replaced, was making.
Also, Brandon Macneill, the son-in-law Perkins hired for the new position of assistant AD for strategic planning and administration, will be making the same salary Konzem was earning ($95,000). Macneill is still working in the marketing department at Princeton University and won't report here until next month.
One of Macneill's priorities, Perkins has said, would be to draw up the new seating plan for Allen Fieldhouse that will be implemented for the 2004-2005 season. Prior to Macneill's hiring, KU athletics had never had a strategic planner.
Meanwhile, Jim Marchiony, who followed Perkins to Mount Oread from Connecticut, will be paid $140,000 a year to be KU's associate athletic director for external affairs.
In addition, as perks, Keating, Marchiony and Macneill will each receive an automobile, moving expenses and a country club membership.
At the same time, it won't be long before Perkins adds another six-figure salary to the athletic department payroll. He is advertising for a senior woman administrator and offering a salary between $110,000 and $130,000 a year. The SWA post has been vacant since Janelle Martin left soon after Perkins took over. Martin's salary was reportedly in the $70,000-a-year range.
Another departure is expected to be confirmed this week. Doug Vance, associate athletic director for communications, has officially been on a leave of absence, and is not expected to return.
Whether Vance will be replaced or if his duties will be absorbed in-house isn't clear. Like Martin, his salary is in the $70,000 range.
Konzem, who spent 23 years in the athletic department, is actively seeking another administrative post. He made the Top 10 list for the San Diego State AD vacancy, but not the top three. One of the three SDSU finalists, incidentally, is Mike Bohn, a former KU football player who is AD at Idaho.
Konzem, whose wife Debbie is vice president of SBC and works in Topeka, says he wouldn't mind staying in Lawrence. Active in the community and the state, Konzem is a board member of the Sunflower State Games, the Kansas All-Sports Hall of Fame and the city parks and recreation department.
"I've been looking at possibly planning sports events and tournaments on a consulting basis," Konzem said.
Upper-echelon administrators who remain on the KU staff are Paul Buskirk, John Hadl, Terry Hines, Susan Wachter, Jay Hinrichs and Gary Kempf.
Perkins has repeatedly praised the job Buskirk, associate AD for student support services, has done. KU student-athletes had a 68 percent graduation rate -- second highest in the Big 12 Conference -- in the latest NCAA report issued last week.
Hadl and Hines are also listed as associate ADs -- Hadl for development and Hines for legal affairs. Wachter has been chief financial officer since 1996. Hinrichs is in his second year as director of the Williams Fund and Kempf, a former KU swim coach, is an assistant AD who does everything from advise coaches to manage new projects.
Perkins is the highest-paid state employee on the Lawrence campus at $400,000 per year. Chancellor Robert Hemenway's salary is $272,711.
In talking about his agenda last week, Perkins said: "I'm not saying the way I do it is right or wrong, but it's the way I do it."