Kansas University’s search for a new athletic director, which had reached its destination at the doorstep of Tulsa University’s Bubba Cunningham, has resumed.
Cunningham, who according to multiple sources was offered the KU job earlier in the week, signed a contract extension to stay put.
Tulsa president Steadman Upham announced the deal late Thursday afternoon, sending shock waves throughout KU’s national fan base.
“Bubba and I have a great partnership,” Upham said, “and his service to TU has been marked by exceptional progress by our student-athletes, including 31 Conference USA championships. We’re on a roll and I’m confident we’ll continue to build on our remarkable momentum and national visibility.”
Cunningham was not made available for comment.
The last time Kansas was in the market for a new athletic director, it didn’t get its first choice, either, and was rejected by an athletic director from the same city.
After Al Bohl’s departure, then-chancellor Robert Hemenway first offered the job to Oral Roberts athletic director Mike Carter, who when pressured for an answer, declined because of family considerations.
It’s not known what inspired Cunningham’s change of heart. KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, in staying consistent with her no-comment policy on the search, did not issue a statement in response to being turned down by the athletic director from a school that competes in Conference USA.
Gray-Little, according to multiple sources, also interviewed Notre Dame deputy athletic director Bill Scholl on the recommendation of the search committee headed by Ray Evans. Some of those same sources indicated that does not mean he is next in line and the search is expected to continue. The committee had contact with athletic directors from several schools and could resume contact with candidates it found most impressive.