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Archive for Tuesday, January 6, 2004

KU refuses to release athletic-department salaries

January 6, 2004

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Kansas University has refused to disclose its employment contracts of top officials in the KU athletic department.

The Journal-World made a formal request for the documents late last month, in response to increasing discussion among KU faculty and staff, as well as officials at other universities, about the full extent of compensation to Lew Perkins, who has been KU athletic director since July.

The university earlier disclosed Perkins received an annual base salary of $400,000 and fringe benefits including two automobiles, family memberships to two country clubs and two season tickets to men's basketball games.

It also said "contingent supplemental compensation is potentially available."

That supplemental income has been said to boost Perkins' annual compensation to about $1 million.

According to comments attributed to individuals associated with the athletic department, Perkins will receive deferred annual compensation ranging from $400,000 to $600,000 a year during the life of his five-year contract.

Faculty members and others from the university community are saying the question must be put to rest, as current estimates of Perkins' compensation are causing concern among their associates.

"We should know if he is indeed making this much money or whether these reports are false or overstated," one professor told the Journal-World on condition of anonymity.

In a response to the newspaper's request under the Kansas Open Records Act for employment contracts as a means to determine the total compensation, a university official wrote such information was not required to be made public.

In an interview, Chancellor Robert Hemenway also declined to disclose the figure or discuss the matter.

"I don't comment on any individual KU employee's salary," Hemenway said last week.

However, base salary information for virtually all KU faculty, staff and employees is available through annual state budget documents. And the Journal-World has been given access to contracts for athletic directors at other universities in the Big 12 Conference.

For example, a contract and amendments to the contract the University of Missouri has with athletic director Michael Alden indicates that in addition to his base salary, the university makes annual payments ranging from $130,000 to $170,000 to a fund, annual supplemental payments of $50,000 and bonuses based on success of Missouri athletic teams in tournaments or bowl games.

Hemenway said such openness never had been practiced with KU athletics.

"We've never released contracts for other ADs or coaches in the past, including Roy Williams, Terry Allen, Al Bohl," Hemenway said.

Because the Journal-World believes salary information is a public record of significant interest to the public, the newspaper will continue to pursue the information, Managing Editor Richard Brack said.

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