Archive for Saturday, September 25, 2004

Hemenway high on KUAC

Chancellor sold on group despite reorganization

September 25, 2004


Chancellor Robert Hemenway rarely shows up at Kansas University athletic board meetings.

Yet Hemenway was on hand Friday to assure the new toothless KUAC advisory committee that it still has a viable function.

"Good organizations periodically adjust their by-laws, and I think that's what we have done," Hemenway told the committee.

Last April, the KUAC board was reorganized by disenfranchising the bulk of the membership and shifting the voter power to athletic director Lew Perkins and five other board members, including student-body president Steve Munch.

Kansas University is one of fewer than 10 schools in the country that has an athletic board.

"Although the NCAA doesn't require a board," Hemenway said, "both Lew and I think it's important to have a board and an advisory committee."

The 16-member advisory committee is composed primarily of faculty, but also includes a handful of alumni and students. Mike Maddox, a Lawrence banker, is chair of the advisory group.

Hemenway, who also is head of the NCAA Division One's executive committee, stressed the need for a watchdog group on Mount Oread.

"The first principle of the NCAA is institutional control," he said. "KU has always had institutional control, and we will always have institutional control."

Hemenway also charged the committee with striving to bring KU to the highest level of competitive excellence in athletics.

"We want to make our school the model for the rest of the country," he said. "We don't want to be in the top 25. We want to be the top one."

As evidence of that commitment, Perkins distributed copies of the fiscal 2004-2005 budget that has a bottom-line increase of about $8.5 million over last year to $35.75 million.

Perkins said he had just been provided with the budgets of the other Big 12 Conference schools from the league office and that Kansas ranked seventh.

"We had the highest percentage increase in the league," Perkins said. "We were 10th or 11th last year."

Queried by the board for specific information about the other schools, Perkins said he couldn't divulge the numbers. He did reveal, however, that Texas was at the top of the list, that Missouri was fifth and Kansas State ninth.

Higher income projections led to the boost in the FY 04-05 budget. Topping the list of income increases were contributions (about $2.3 million), men's basketball (about $2 million) and football (nearly $1.2 million).

Ben Kirtland, associate AD for development, painted a rosy donations picture. He said the fiscal goal for contributions was $7.8 million and that $7.1 million already had been pledged.

Incidentally, Kirtland said contributors should know within about two weeks where their seats will be for men's basketball games based on the augmentation of the controversial priority-points system for Allen Fieldhouse.

"We'll probably start assigning seats next week," Kirtland said, "and they'll go out the week after that. Then I'm sure there will be some questions, but we'll have a diagram where the seats are for each level of contributions."

Asked how many donors belonged to the Williams Fund, Kirtland broke it down. He reported that of the 3,218 Fund members, 112 give more than $25,000, that 256 are in the next category above $10,000 and that 320 are in the $5,000 to $9,999 range.

On another subject, Perkins was asked by committee member Bedru Yiner, a professor of engineering, if the increased income would allow KU to bring back men's swimming and tennis. Both sports were dropped in March of 2001.

"Right now, that's not in our immediate future plans," Perkins replied. "There are Title IX considerations, and we're at the point where we're trying to get the other sports competitive."

Perkins added that if KU did add sports, they probably would be women's sports, "but that's not in our discussions right now."

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