Your morning dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.
• As KU’s search for a new athletics director enters its final phases, one thing I’d be interested to ask whoever comes on is how that person intends to deal with the growing divide between athletics and academics.
That’s an ever-present topic at KU, but it’s also at the forefront at universities across the country. I remember one of the first few announcements new Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little made on campus highlighted the $40 million that Kansas Athletics would be giving to academic programs using proceeds from the new Gridiron Club. That, of course, fizzled after athletics officials couldn’t sell space in the proposed swanky football seating area.
And I still remember a former faculty senate president at KU expressing frustration at having to deal with cutbacks across the university while Allen Fieldhouse had palazzo tiles in the bathrooms.
Other universities, however, are finding new ways for academics to support athletics. At Nebraska, for example, a new 20,000-square-foot space for university research is part of upgrades to Memorial Stadium. Athletics will chip in $1.5 million to help get the space for researchers to move in.
The KU athletics department uses its own, privately raised dollars to support its activities, and it does contribute money back to the university, most in the form of student scholarships for its athletes. And it has its own obligations to pay, too. The department forked over $3 million to outgoing football coach Mark Mangino last year.
But faculty who talk to me often say, even with all that, it’s difficult to forget things like former A.D. Lew Perkins’ pay package in 2009, when he earned about $85,000 a week.
So, while others may look for on-field success first, I’ll be watching and listening to see what the new A.D. thinks about the rest of the school's bread and butter. And I’ll be even more interested to see what kind of action, if any, the new person takes on the matter.
• A University of Central Florida and Black Coaches and Administrators report on minority hiring in NCAA Division I football programs notes that KU’s hire of Turner Gill was one of seven minority hires in the football bowl subdivision for the 2010 season.
Not surprisingly, the hire earned KU an “A” on UCF’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport’s annual football hiring report card.
Schools were judged on four criteria measuring how well they incorporated minorities in their hiring plans. Of the 20 FBS schools with football openings, only one — the University of Southern California — received an “F” for its hiring process.
The report said that today, there are 15 minority head coaches at FBS schools, representing about 12.5 percent of all head coaches. And that figure has actually increased significantly in recent years.
• To all those students out there preparing for those finals, you should finish strong. Because Yoda said so. Or something like that...
There’s a bunch of activities listed to help students cope with end-of-semester stress, including some yoGa classes, sessions on stress management and other academic workshops, courtesy of the Star Wars crazies over at the office of the Vice Provost for Student Success. They’ll even open up Mrs. E’s for a late-night breakfast session the Sunday before finals from 10 p.m. to midnight to help satisfy that food craving.
• I’ve been trying to find out how I can make $85,000 a week. Feel free to send me a Heard on the Hill tip on that topic or anything else at firstname.lastname@example.org