Chris Theisen has worked closely with every men's basketball coach in the Big 12 Conference the past six years.
Starting in August, the league's associate media-relations director will assist just one. On Monday, Theisen accepted a position as Kansas University's assistant athletic director for media relations.
His main duty -- in addition to running the day-to-day operations of KU's media-relations department -- will be overseeing the publicity and promotion of coach Bill Self's Jayhawk men's basketball team.
"I'm very excited about the opportunity. I've followed University of Kansas athletics and the basketball program a long time," said Theisen, a 1991 Oklahoma State graduate. "The administration and coaches are out to win -- to be the best -- and to do it the right way.
"Coach Self is awesome. He's well-respected -- a genuine person."
Theisen first met Self at Oklahoma State in the early 1990s when Theisen was a graduate assistant in OSU's sports-information office and Self was an OSU assistant coach.
The two also met twice while Theisen served as media coordinator of NCAA Division One first- and second-round men's basketball tournaments that the Big 12 played host to.
"I'll never forget I got on a plane in 1997 in Dallas going to Indianapolis for the Final Four. Bill Self was on his cell phone in the plane," Theisen said. "He got up from his seat and said, 'Chris Theisen, what are you doing on the plane?' and shook my hand. I thought to myself, 'How can you remember my name from when I was a lowly student assistant?' He's that kind of person."
For the last six years Theisen served as media coordinator of the Big 12 football championship game and the league's men's basketball tournament. Additionally, he has worked numerous bowl and NCAA events, including the past eight NCAA Final Fours.
One of his duties the past six years has been moderating the weekly Big 12 teleconference, in which he introduced each Big 12 coach to the media and even asked the coaches questions.
"Probably my most embarrassing moment," Theisen said, "is in my second or third year I said, 'This is Oklahoma State coach Kelvin Sampson.' He said, 'Chris, I am coach at Oklahoma.'
"I said to our operator later, 'Did I really say Oklahoma State?' He said, 'You sure did.' From that point on, every time Kelvin came on I paused and said slowly, 'It's Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson.'"
An Oklahoma City native, Theisen worked in the Big Eight Conference's media-relations office from 1993 to '96. He was assistant sports-information director at Kansas State from 1991 to '93.
Theisen replaces Mitch Germann, who left KU for the public-relations firm of Fleishman-Hillard.
Theisen's wife, Cathy, is a 1997 graduate of KU's law school. The couple has two sons: Jack (4) and Andrew (1).
"I have known Chris for several years," KU associate AD Jim Marchiony said. "He has done terrific work both at the conference level and at the NCAA tournament level. He is a true professional, with outstanding contacts both regionally and nationally. We are delighted to have him join our team."¢
Travel package for Canada: Lawrence travel company Travellers is sponsoring a package for KU's Labor Day weekend trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, for four exhibition basketball games.
For information, KU fans can log onto travellers.vacation.com.
"We just put it together. We don't know what the response will be," said Walt Houk of Travellers. "It's new territory, considering these are exhibition games."
"Vancouver is a nice, mountainous, scenic city with a Northwest climate. There's a lot of sight seeing to do as well as attend the games."
KU will play one game Sept. 4, two Sept. 5 and one Sept. 6, all in the Vancouver area.