Kansas City, Mo. State higher education officials on Thursday agreed with a decision by Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little to remove Athletic Director Lew Perkins as chairman of the Kansas Athletics Corp. Board of Directors.
“I thought it made sense regardless of who the athletic director is,” said Kansas Board of Regents Chairman Gary Sherrer. “Consolidation of power often leads to troublesome issues. This is putting some balance in there,” Sherrer said.
Kansas Board of Regents Vice Chairman Ed McKechnie said the chancellor reports to the regents, and she needs independent information.
“The chancellor is in charge of university athletics. The buck stops with her,” he said.
Gray-Little quietly made the change on the six-member board earlier this month. She informed the regents about it during the regents retreat on Wednesday in Overland Park. The athletic corporation is a non-state organization that operates and manages KU’s sports programs
Gray-Little said she had been in discussions about the structure of several boards.
“I realized that with athletics in particular, the board which is supposed to bring some perspective and point of view that wouldn’t come from staff, was chaired by the athletic director. It seemed the board could be more effective if the chair wasn’t the athletic director,” she said. She said that Perkins agreed with the move.
Athletic departments at both KU and Kansas State University have been under fire.
A ticket scandal rocked KU Athletics earlier this year, and last year an audit raised questions about financial dealings at the KSU athletic department.
Gray-Little said the controversies surrounding the KU athletics operation were “relevant to perceptions,” but she added she would have wanted to make the change regardless of that situation.
Perkins is retiring as athletics director at the end of the academic year. Although he no longer is chairman of the board, he will continue to serve as a member this year. Jerry Bailey, the faculty athletics representative, will serve as chairman at least for this year. Bailey is an associate professor in KU’s School of Education.
The board also includes the provost, student body president, a vice provost and the university’s chief business and financial planning officer.
Gray-Little said she is studying the bylaws of the board and may make some further changes. She said in the long term it may be best to have the provost lead the board.
Regents Chair Sherrer asked Gray-Little and Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz to consider adding members to the athletics boards who are not affiliated with the universities.
Schulz said he didn’t think that was a good idea because outsiders may have trouble keeping certain matters confidential, such as contract negotiations. But Gray-Little said she was considering Sherrer’s proposal.