Archive for Monday, December 20, 2010

Heard on the Hill: KU Chancellor speaks (a little) about A.D. search; women’s basketball team spreads joy, swag at LMH; Sam Brownback looks kind of funny carrying 3,000 postcards

December 20, 2010


Finals week is over, and the campus is a lot more desolate, but I’m still here dishing out news, notes and links from around Kansas University.

• I had the chance at the end of last week to interview Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little on a separate topic, but our conversation eventually got around to the issue on many people’s minds — the athletics director search.

She didn’t offer much, and certainly no comments on the Bubba Cunningham contract situation or potential candidates moving forward.

She did say, however, that she hopes to have the post filled by early next year.

And — like many Heard on the Hill commenters last week — she offered some comments directed toward me and the rest of my media brethren.

“The coverage is damaging to the search,” she said, when it exposes candidates before they’re committed to the university. “I think it becomes costly for candidates to be involved. … I don’t think it’s helpful to our search and I think makes our search more difficult.”

I asked the natural follow-up question, whether any candidates had backed out yet because of the coverage. She said no, but that it’s happened before in other searches she’s been involved with.

I stretch my objectivity a bit in this blog, and offer a few opinions on a variety of things I wouldn’t normally in a newspaper article.

In this case, however, I think it’s best to just keep my thoughts on the chancellor’s comments to myself, and throw it open to comments and e-mails. It’s worth noting that I’ve heard similar thoughts from others, too.

• The KU women’s basketball team for the 18th year delivered pennants, shirts, hats and other memorabilia on Friday to patients at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

I’ve covered that event in the past, and I remember how well-received the team was by the patients in the hospital, particularly in the hospital’s maternity ward, where players (and maybe even a journalist, too) ooh’d and ahh’d at newborns. The players and coaches seemed to have a good time, and I remember how some told me they looked forward to the event each year.

Licensees of the university donate the swag, which amounted to about $26,000 this year.

Sam Brownback surprised by students delivering petitions to his office

KU student body president Michael Wade Smith and other student leaders from Kansas universities were at Governor-elect Brownback's office this morning to deliver 3,000 petitions from students, asking for his support for the Kansas Commitment — a plan from the Board of Regents seeking to invest $50 million to improve higher education in Kansas. They had expected to deliver the petitions to a staffer but Brownback walked into the office right as the students arrived. Enlarge video

• Just wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to see this video from last week.

I’d read Scott Rothschild’s story when it came out, but didn’t click through to the video until just recently. It’s worth a watch.

KU student body president Michael Wade Smith surprises Gov.-elect Sam Brownback with a presentation of 3,000 postcards signed by students in support of the Kansas Board of Regents’ plan to fund higher education.

The governor-elect wasn’t supposed to be present — the cards were to be given to a staffer instead. But he walked into the office at exactly the wrong time — when the presentation was going on.

The intrepid Michael Wade seized the moment, and Brownback awkwardly walked away with a bundle of postcards. He didn’t, by the way, commit to any funding plans, but did say he would be talking with higher education folks later.

• I take tips for Heard on the Hill in any form, any time. Anyone wishing to send me 3,000 postcards can do so c/o Andy Hyland, 645 New Hampshire St., Lawrence, KS 66044. For those looking to save on postage, just try


KEITHMILES05 7 years, 6 months ago

The chancellor has a very good point. Why do you media types attempt to one up everybody and potentially damage things? Why not report and instead of always getting the "scoop" and acting like you are making the news. She has a valid point and one you and ALL media need to consider. I'm glad you kept YOUR opinion to yourself because the public doesn't care about that. We care about the facts.

Jim Williamson 7 years, 6 months ago

"Why do you media types attempt to one up everybody and potentially damage things? Why not report and instead of always getting the 'scoop' and acting like you are making the news."

You're not asking this question with a straight face, are you?

Keith 7 years, 6 months ago

Perhaps the chancellor should try plugging the leaks rather than blaming those reporting the leakage. She'd be a lot happier if you media types would just wait for the press release and then print it verbatim.

seagull 7 years, 6 months ago


The press coverage is damaging to the search and the university when it is premature and not based on solid evidence. In the Cunningham case, the LJWorld, as were most of us, was blinded by the assumption that he would of course want to come to a BCS school. On the other hand, how is it that this search committee got away with leak after leak after leak from very early on in the process? The Chancellor should be concerned about this and should replace the members. The Regents managed to hire the Chancellor without a single leak. There were no leaks in the provost search. Even though both searches were run by a search firm, both were guided by large, representative committees. Lots of opportunity for slips. If a candidate him or herself leaks information, it's fair game, but would seem to be of suspect credibility. There's no right or wrong here but the recent debacle, played out in the news, is no doubt hurting the university in many ways. The alternative, which most faculty would prefer, is a completely open process in which finalists are aware their name will be make public and are asked to interview on campus. When a candidate wants to check out the campus and town before moving a family here, it seems impossible to have a completely secret search. He or she will be spied somewhere and rumors will fly. At that point, make the search public. Seems one local newspaper owner has railed against that option on many an occasion.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 6 months ago

Saying the press coverage is damaging to the search isn't the same as saying the press shouldn't report on it.

It is simply making a rather obvious point. As the Chancellor, BGL is aware that media focus isn't helpful, and she should also be aware that it is an impediment she has to manage around.

Don't get your knickers in a knot. What would actually be something you shouldn't do is to develop a personal agenda because you can't take criticism.

ahyland 7 years, 6 months ago

Thanks, all, as always, for the great comments. I love stopping by this blog throughout my day and reading what you all have to say.

A couple of quick items from me:

• I think it's important to point out that — while inaccurate reports came up in our discussion — I think that the chancellor in the comments above was mainly talking about accurate media reports that call out real candidates for the job.

• Bob — those are particularly good points, and I hadn't considered Gray-Little's comments in exactly that light until you said that. I'm not sure if you were referring to my knickers or someone else's, but I learned to take criticism for what it was and move on long ago... I worked for most of my youth and into my college days as a girls' fastpitch softball umpire, and nothing anyone can say in this job can ever come close to the epithets hurled my way on the diamond. And I still had to "call it fair" for the nastiest of coaches and fans. That was a good life lesson for me, and I try to carry it into my work as a journalist.

By the way — I've wondered this for awhile (and apologies if you get asked this a lot and I've missed it), who's that fellow in your avatar?

d_prowess 7 years, 6 months ago

I think that is Capt. Kangaroo!

I agree with some others that have said that the responsibility to prevent leaks is that of the search committee, not the media. If something comes out, it can be reported on. And as for the Cunningham situation, I think he did agree to the job and then backed out. So the reports that he was going to be our AD were correct at the time.

ahyland 7 years, 6 months ago

Boy, that's exactly right on the photo. Showing my age, I suppose...

irvan moore 7 years, 6 months ago

i think the chancellor has done more damage to the search than the media has.

Chuck Woodling 7 years, 6 months ago

Media reports of Cunningham's hiring by Kansas were hardly "costly" to the TU athletic director. Since Tulsa is a private university, the school doesn't have to divulge what Cunningham is paid, but in a press conference Friday in which he deflected all questions about KU, Cunningham called his new pact "absolutely outstanding." Cunningham may not have started the process of interviewing at KU intent on feathering his nest, yet he certainly did.

Vinny1 7 years, 6 months ago

If the Chancellor would not have tried to throw a bunch of caveats into the written AD contract at the very end after other terms had been verbally agreed to there would be no problem and she wouldn't be bitching and moaning about it all.

Ryan Wood 7 years, 6 months ago

It's not the media's job to make sure that the hiring process goes smoothly for the chancellor. The media works for the public, not for the university.

And that's your answer.

brett conrad 7 years, 6 months ago

Too bad she didn't restrict Gill's contract.

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