Archive for Friday, June 11, 2010

Defining faces of KU: Perkins, Gray-Little and Self exposed in spotlight

Athletic director Lew Perkins, left, chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, center, and men’s basketball coach Bill Self are the defining faces of Kansas University, according to Journal-World sports editor Tom Keegan.

Athletic director Lew Perkins, left, chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, center, and men’s basketball coach Bill Self are the defining faces of Kansas University, according to Journal-World sports editor Tom Keegan.

June 11, 2010


On one of the biggest news days in the history of Kansas University, a spotlight shined on the three defining faces of the institution and exposed them for what they were Thursday.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little: out of touch.

Athletic Director Lew Perkins: out of time.

Basketball coach Bill Self: out of this world.

As news hit that Colorado had left the Big 12 for the Pac-10, one day after Nebraska moved to the Big Ten, it didn’t take long for word to spread that Gray-Little dined Wednesday night with Colorado Chancellor Philip DiStefano, in town to evaluate university administration. They spent part of Thursday together as well. Yet, DiStefano didn’t share his school’s move with Gray-Little. Even if DiStefano was sworn to secrecy and didn’t want to jeopardize Colorado’s standing with the Pac-10, it paints KU’s chancellor as out of touch with her Big 12 peers.

When asked, Gray-Little said at her news conference Thursday that conference affiliations are decisions made by presidents and chancellors, who bank on the guidance of the experts, the athletic directors. Well, I find it difficult to believe that Perkins advised his boss to be schmoozing alumni in England when the Big 12 meetings were taking place in Kansas City. Perkins has been talking up the potential for conference realignment for months.

Whichever adviser told the chancellor it was fine to blow off the Big 12 meetings — after all, it’s just a sports deal and who really cares about sports, right? — needs to advise the chancellor to find a better adviser. Similar to her previous university, North Carolina, the basketball team plays a huge role in marketing the school. It’s not good when a chancellor or president places too much importance on athletics. It’s even worse when not enough importance is placed on it because in the long run that hurts the academic standing of the institution. Gray-Little should have maintained regular contact with her peers from the Big 12 and with peers from other possible future conferences for months.

Perkins missed part of the Big 12 meetings as well, but he had an excuse, an embarrassing one for KU Athletics. He was testifying before a federal grand jury about the ticket scandal, although he was not a target witness.

Perkins did the university a service by announcing his retirement Thursday. Otherwise, speculation about his job status in the wake of the ticket fraud under his watch — as well as the exercise equipment installed in his house and paid for in the form of a $5,000 rental check a year after it was returned and while he was getting blackmailed — would have divided the focus of everyone who needs to concentrate on the pressing matter of finding the right conference affiliation.

Many alumni grateful to Perkins for elevating the budget through aggressive fundraising felt betrayed by the ticket scandal that took place under his watch. Too many customers paying for prime seats felt cheated. Others wished he had kept popular football coach Mark Mangino. The trust some alumni had in Perkins began to wane, and the exercise equipment mess did nothing to restore that trust.

By staying another year, Perkins can try to guide Kansas into a big-time conference, leave when the kitchen’s not so hot and collect a $600,000 tax-free retention bonus. With the extra year, he can be judged by his full term, not by his department’s 2010-2011 mine field of a year.

After that, Perkins can enjoy his family, his golf and his cigars on his own schedule.

With a chancellor out of touch with the earthquake of a conference shakeup and an athletic director announcing his retirement in the midst of so many controversies, the university badly was in need of a strong, confident force to make the sun shine through the clouds. Enter Self, the basketball coach who forever diverts attention from what an extraordinary mind he has by disarming his audience with Southern charm.

Self’s words are a tonic similar to the tail-wagging dog who greets you at the door after an absolutely miserable day at work and makes you realize you aren’t as worthless as you thought you were, makes you understand that although things seem hopeless, nothing’s really changed. Your dog still loves you unconditionally, and nobody’s cooler than your dog.

“We are going to be in a BCS league,” Self said at a news conference. “I’m totally confident about that.”

So began the emotional healing for Jayhawks all over the world. Uncertainty is unsettling, Self acknowledged, but KU has too much going for it for anybody to panic.

“From my vantage point, there’s not an option,” he said of landing in a big-time conference. “There are absolutely no other options. You’ve got to keep your doors open, but this university has too much to sell to rush into doing something just to find a home, because in our opinion, the aftershock or the trickle-down hasn’t even begun to occur.”

He’s dead right.

“We are at the first level of it,” Self said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen on the second level, third level, fourth level, fifth level. What’s the Big Ten going to go to? Are they going to 12? Are they going to 16? Certain leagues may not be as open to expansion, unless maybe another league does something to kind of force their hand.”

A revamped Big 12. The Pac-10. The Big East. Nobody knows. Hearing Self talk made it difficult to believe Kansas is on its way out of the big-time.


anon1958 7 years, 11 months ago

"It’s even worse when not enough importance is placed on it because in the long run that hurts the academic standing of the institution."

I am sure that people from Harvard, Stanford, Yale and every other school that really matters in the academic world would disagree. Is this something found on some alternate Wiki for Dummies? Where does this guy come up with this stuff. I think he must spend most of the day imbibing the products of that local "Head Shoppe" that keeps getting raided.

“We are going to be in a BCS league,” Self said at a news conference. “I’m totally confident about that.”

So began the emotional healing for Jayhawks all over the world.

LOLOLOL this is so pathetic that it cannot even be properly mocked. Hey Keegan, do you need someone to come over and tuck you into bed? Maybe KU could make up the soon to be lost revenues by marketing "Bill Self Pacifiers". Just stick it in your mouth, suck on it and be soothed by a southern charm that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, gauranteed to chase away the discomfort of reality.

Jeff Kilgore 7 years, 11 months ago

Man are you hateful. Pathetic? Yes, you are. All you do is spew your hatred for KU athletics every single day. Who cares what you think? Are you stupid enough to compare KU to Harvard, Stanford, and Yale because is some ridiculous area of your brain you conceive that KU is in any way comparable to those schools? Kansas University is a state school with a good academic standing that will certainly suffer if the athletics department cannot realign in a major conference.

Your name suggests that you're living in 1958. Your out-of-date posts confirm it.

anon1958 7 years, 11 months ago

Actually my hatred is not for KU athletics but KU writ large. Here though I was mostly mocking Keegan, KU not so much but you were not clever enough to see that.

For the most part members of Jayhawk nation are not anymore fanatical than a few other college teams but, silly enough to deserve being made fun of nonetheless. I am perfectly aware that KU will suffer in ways other than on the athletic field, that is why I am so gleeful about this whole mess. I count myself lucky to see this because such an upheaval will not likely happen again for many decades.

Robert Rauktis 7 years, 11 months ago

A sports writer who can neither play sports or write, let alone think. I always loved the irony of these fat guys pontificating about the divinity of activity.

I once asked an American, the fattest people in the world (they should worship the Buddha) what was his favorite sport. He said, "Football." Then I asked him when was the last time he played football. He replied, "Gee, I don't play football, I just watch it."

And their butts get bigger. And bigger. And bigger.

Linda Aikins 7 years, 11 months ago

Nothing intelligent to attack, so you go for the easy target.Very deep thinking there.

How about you submit an article and let us critique you.

whats_going_on 7 years, 11 months ago

lol @ both SFB and anon, thanks for starting off my morning with a laugh. :)

Phillbert 7 years, 11 months ago

"It’s not good when a chancellor or president places too much importance on athletics. It’s even worse when not enough importance is placed on it because in the long run that hurts the academic standing of the institution."

This is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever read. Real shame what happened to MIT's academic quality after they didn't place enough importance on athletics.

lovenhaight 7 years, 11 months ago

You can't honestly be comparing KU and MIT academically...I love my alma mater and even I call bs on that one.

People who hate the athletics program so much seem to have issues realizing that a university rich in tradition, both academically and on the court, is a draw to students. My time at KU was pretty incredible, and that included my walk down the hill, my involvement in academics, and my time spent in Allen Fieldhouse.

If you've got a problem with athletics, don't go. Just don't rag on the rest of us who love both sides of KU.

Phillbert 7 years, 11 months ago

As I said earlier, I love KU. I think I have season tickets for five sports. I camped out when I was a student. I'm in the WEF. Yada, yada. I have no problem with athletics, or with anyone who - like me - is a KU fan.

What I have a problem with is the notion that, if forced to choose between focusing too much on athletics or not enough on it, the KU leadership should focus too much on athletics. That's what Keegan's column said, and that's what I was objecting to.

Jeff Kilgore 7 years, 11 months ago

What strange, exotic planet do Phillbert, SFB, and anon share? Cupcakes, moonbeams, angel dust, metaphysical poetry, and a large dose of (laughable) idealism must be the ingredients of your breakfast. For the rest of us who live in the real world, athletics is an important part of the college experience.

You should form a club and then post your meeting places.

Breaking news! Did you hear? MIT, Stanford, Harvard, and Yale have asked KU to join the Intellectual League! Oh! I am so excited! I'm hyperventilating!

Phillbert 7 years, 11 months ago

I love KU sports, but I also know that this is a university with an athletics program, not the other way around.

Eddie Muñoz 7 years, 11 months ago

Then you should realize the importance of the athletics program to the university.

nobody1793 7 years, 11 months ago

Dolph: The chancellor is too focused on athletics Keegan: The chancellor is not focused enough on athletics

Maybe the two will anhilate each other in some kind of matter-antimatter collision.

RiverCityConservative 7 years, 11 months ago

The chancellor's actions and style and grace are appropriate to the complexities of the sports dynamic this week. Her colleague at Colorado remains her colleague despite the seismic activity in Big 12 athletics the past day or two. I see two stars and one bum--Perkins--in this story line.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 11 months ago

Maybe Gray-Little should have been at the Big 12 meeting, but Keegan is just wrong if thinks that would have made any difference in the realignment earthquake now underway.

lionheart72661 7 years, 11 months ago

Yeah perkins will leave with BIG bucks plus whatever he gets for retirement and the 600,000 dollar tax free retention bonus as well as Gray-little and her outlandish salary. Of course academics will suffer. The only person I see doing any good for the school is Bill Self as far as high profile personalities are concerned at KU. So good riddens Lew and you shouldn't get one single penny when you leave

puddleglum 7 years, 11 months ago

she can play electric piano better than the organ professor

Kontum1972 7 years, 11 months ago

will more fall off the oread over the weekend?

Jack Martin 7 years, 11 months ago

I want to offer a couple of corrections to this column. It was University of Colorado at Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano who was in Lawrence -- not Bruce Benson, who is the president of the University of Colorado system.

Additionally, DiStefano is not here to act as a consultant in the setting up of the Chancellor’s Office. DiStefano, a senior administrator from Cornell, and Incoming Provost Jeff Vitter are evaluating the overall administrative structure of the university.


Jack Martin University Communications

KU_cynic 7 years, 11 months ago

What, Jack, Keegan messed up on on some key facts while composing his column on a barstool somewhere last night? Imagine that . . .

happyrock 7 years, 11 months ago

Who was on the search committee for Lew and the Chancellor? Let's hear from these bozos.

lionheart72661 7 years, 11 months ago

Two of the most generous donors for Kansas Athletics Inc. in recent years did not fulfill their pledge for the past year, money that had been expected to help finance KU’s new football practice facility. "OOPS" more salary cuts and higher tuitions

fuel_for_the_fire 7 years, 11 months ago

I hope to see a retraction and an apology from you in tomorrow's edition Mr. Keegan. Anything less would show a distinct lack of class.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 11 months ago

Absence of Gray-Little and Perkins from the Big 12 meetings could be disastrous. While teams from Texas and Oklahoma were joining together and plotting their next move, KU was absent.

ralphralph 7 years, 11 months ago

PS: Lew cannot be allowed to continue as AD given the messes he has caused and/or permitted. When someone screws up, or screws you over, the way Lew has, then you fire them. Now. You don't let them cash in on you one, last time.

yankeevet 7 years, 11 months ago

Report: Perkins Gets $600K For Staying Kansas Athletic Director Will Retire In 2011 POSTED: 9:11 am CDT June 13, 2010 Email Print Comments (6)TOPEKA, Kan. --

Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins will receive a $600,000 retention payment if he stays through June 30, 2011, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported Saturday. Perkins has already announced plans to retire in September 2011.

Perkins' contract calls for him to receive the $600,000 payment Aug. 1, 2011, the newspaper reported.

Perkins, 65, announced his retirement plans Thursday, one day after he was cleared of accepting free use of gym equipment in exchange for favors and the same day the Big 12 began to break apart with Colorado's defection to the Pac-10.

Perkins' contract would give him another $600,000 if he stayed through 2013. The contract also says that if Perkins is fired before July 1, 2011, Kansas would owe him $300,000 for every year of service, beginning July 1, 2009.

Perkins has an annual base salary of $800,000 and earned $4.4 million in 2009 in salary and bonuses.

Besides a former employee's accusation that Perkins accepted free gym equipment, the university has been rocked by a federal probe into a widespread scam involving the sale of basketball and football tickets.

Five employees, including some of Perkins' closest aides, have been fired. An independent investigation commissioned by the school said the scam went on since at least 2005 and may have cost the school $3 million. The FBI is investigating the allegations and Perkins testified last week before a grand jury.

Perkins has not been implicated, but many have called for his firing for lack of oversight.

Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, who has been a staunch ally of Perkins, said earlier that he led the school "during a time of remarkable growth and success" and called his decision to retire a surprise.

Former Kansas chancellor Bob Hemenway hired Perkins in 2003 to replace Al Bohl. Perkins' initial contract with KU was a six-year deal at a base yearly salary of $500,000, plus a potential $25,000 bonus. It also included a retention payment of $1.3 million, which KU paid Perkins in 2009.

A series of amendments in the next five years boosted Perkins' bonuses and retention payments.

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