Because he's Kansas University' athletic director, Lew Perkins gets two cars. His contract says so.
Men's basketball coach Bill Self also gets two cars. So does football coach Mark Mangino.
They're hardly alone. Records show that 59 of the athletic department's 180 full-time employees get cars -- that's one of every three.
Forty coaches, assistant coaches and trainers get cars, as do 22 department employees in administrative positions.
"If you want good people, you have to pay them," said Jim Marchiony, KU associate athletic director in charge of external affairs. "This is one way we can accomplish that."
It doesn't cost much, either. Every year, car dealers in Lawrence, Ottawa, Shawnee Mission and as far away as Hutchinson, Salina and Dodge City, loan cars to the athletic department.
For each car, the dealers get:
- Two free football season tickets with the option of buying two more.
- The option to buy two men's basketball tickets.
- Credit for a $5,000 contribution to the Williams Fund, the fund-raising arm of the athletic department.
- Inclusion in a full-page "Wheel Club" advertisement in football and basketball game-day programs.
Cars are returned
The cars are returned to the dealers, usually within one or two years.
"It depends on the vehicle," said Miles Schnaer, president of Crown Chevrolet-Oldsmobile-Toyota in Lawrence. "For some, it may be after 5,000 miles. For others, it may be 20,000 miles."
|The Kansas University Athletic Corp. Wheel Club includes administrators and coaches. Some of those receiving use of a car:
Crown is a more-than-willing participant in the loan program, Schnaer said.
"I believe that when you're in business, you have an obligation to be active in your community and to support your community," he said. "And in Lawrence, that means supporting the University of Kansas, which happens to be a major employer.
"Yes, it's good for business -- you get to meet a lot of people, who, at some point may be customers. But, still, it's the right thing to do."
It doesn't hurt that Schnaer, who played basketball in high school and at Labette County Community College, is an avid sports fan who enjoys interacting with athletes and coaches.
"Over the years, I've learned that being successful in sales is a lot like being a successful athlete," he said. "You have to work at it. You have to prepare yourself. You have be ready to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves."
Crown also is active in booster organizations for the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals. It has been a member of the athletic department's Wheel Club for 10 years.
Perkins decides perks
At the athletic department, there's not a clear standard for deciding who gets a car and who doesn't. Those decisions, Marchiony said, are made by Perkins.
"Unfortunately, there has to be a cutoff point," said Marchiony, who has been provided with a 2003 Cadillac Seville. "It's never easy."
Generally, head coaches get at least one car. Self and Mangino get two.
Football and basketball assistant coaches all get cars. Their counterparts on the baseball, volleyball, track, cross country, swimming, soccer, tennis and rowing teams do not.
Each of the department's nine associate and four assistant athletic directors get cars, as do:
- Charlotte Stuart, director of ticket operations.
- Mike Lickert, director of video services.
- JoAnn Zerr, director of business operations.
- Diane Douglas, director of human relations.
- Susan Wachter, chief financial officer.
Those who get cars are responsible for routine maintenance and gasoline.
|In addition to a 2004 Lincoln Navigator provided under the terms of his employment contract, Kansas University athletic director Lew Perkins also is driving around a 2004 Mercedes-Benz S430V4.The car is a loaner from Schofield Auto Plaza in Wichita, according to athletic department records.Jim Marchiony, KU associate athletic director in charge of external affairs, said Perkins was trying out the car from a dealership he was acquainted with from his days at Wichita State University.Under Perkins' contract, KU provides him with two cars. His wife, Gwen, drives a 2003 Lexus LS 430. Should Perkins elect to keep the Mercedes, Marchiony said, he would have to purchase it himself or give up one of the other cars.|
The cars are considered a form of income and are subject to taxation.
"The annual lease value is put on your W-2. You pay taxes on it," Marchiony said. "It's a perk, but it's not free."
The athletic department pays for the tags and insurance.
The arrangements are not unique. Of the 131 full-time employees in Kansas State University's athletic department, 56 get cars.
At Wichita State University, 23 of the athletic department's 77 full-time employees get cars.
"This is a fairly standard practice for institutions to engage in," said NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson. "It's appropriate, it's legitimate and it provides an important benefit to the university."
Not all universities offer their car dealers the same benefit package. At K-State, for example, dealers receive four football season tickets, four basketball season tickets -- men's and/or women's -- and credit for a $6,000 contribution to the department's Ahearn Scholarship Fund for each car.
At Wichita State, dealers receive eight men's basketball season tickets, four baseball season tickets and credit for a $3,000 contribution to the Shocker Athletic Scholarship Organization.
Outside the athletic department, KU provides:
- Chancellor Robert Hemenway with a 2005 Chrysler 300 Limited.
- Provost David Shulenburger with a 2002 Chrysler Concord.
Janet Murguia, former executive vice chancellor for external affairs, was provided with a 2004 Ford Escape SUV. Her successor, Paul Carttar, who starts Monday, has not decided whether to accept the vehicle or use his own.
The cars for the KU administrators outside of the athletic department are not on loan. Instead, they are purchased on the university's behalf by the KU Endowment Association.
Cars for professors?
According to Lynn Bretz, director of university relations, no one has proposed soliciting car dealers for cars for distinguished professors or college deans.
"The chancellor, the provost and the EVC (executive vice chancellor) get cars because they travel a lot. It's actually cheaper than paying 36 cents a mile," Bretz said. "I don't how that standard would be met in terms of, say, a top professor."
At least one professor wasn't upset by the disparity between the university at large and the athletic department.
"Oh, I don't see a problem with it," said Ray Davis, a public administration professor and a former president of the faculty Senate Executive Committee. "There are much more serious issues to be concerned about."
Davis said he and others were far more worried by recent reports that 11 of the nation's top-ranked football programs, including K-State's, allow players to earn academic credit for attending practice.
"That's a travesty," Davis said. "That's a perfect example of how the system has been perverted. I certainly hope that's not being done here."
"It's not," Marchiony said.