Archive for Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Perkins should have left KU much sooner

KU’s athletic director should have left the university long before now

September 8, 2010


Tuesday’s surprise announcement by Lew Perkins that he is resigning after seven years as Kansas University’s athletics director is good news.

In fact, it should have come much sooner.

At this time, it is not known whether Perkins’ actions were his decision or whether he was fired.

Whatever the case, the university and the Athletics Department has been disgraced by the recent ticket scandal and the ongoing investigations by the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Prior to these situations, the manner in which Perkins initiated a “point” system to allocate priority seating in Allen Fieldhouse caused tremendous ill feelings toward the university as well as the Athletics Department. Perkins’ personal manner was arrogant with little concern, interest or appreciation for the long and generous support and help given on behalf of the university.

Perkins was brought to KU by former Chancellor Robert Hemenway to raise more money for the Athletics Department, improve facilities and improve the records of KU intercollegiate teams. He was successful in raising money and he made major improvements in facilities, but he did so at an expense. Increasing numbers of faculty members and alumni became upset at the millions upon millions spent on athletics facilities when university officials were being asked to trim expenditures for academic purposes and cutbacks in faculty and support staff. Consider the huge debt Perkins is leaving for someone else to pay.

The records of KU teams did not show significant improvement despite KU basketball continuing to be a conference and national leader. In fact, the overall record of KU teams dropped.

There was major concern about Hemenway’s role in the generosity of Perkins’ contract and whether in the latter years he was as knowledgeable as he should be in contract extensions and bonuses paid for Perkins serving KU for certain lengths of time. In fact, much was made of Perkins’ receiving more than $4 million for one-year’s service, clearly the highest salary paid to any athletic director at any U.S. university.

Now that he has submitted his resignation, it is important that all present investigations of Perkins’ actions be continued. These investigations should be deep and thorough so that all questions about actions of those in the department, or actions by Perkins, are fully answered.

In a recent Journal-World article, several former athletics directors said it would be a serious mistake for Perkins to have any voice or role in selecting his successor. He should not select members of the search committee nor the individuals he wanted to succeed him.

Was Perkins’ resignation a “package deal” in that he would resign if KU associate athletics director and now interim athletics director Sean Lester was hired as his replacement? He has been pushing Lester’s appointment for some time.

KU has enjoyed a proud record of men who have served as athletics directors. There have been ups and downs but nothing compared to what the department and the university have been exposed to during Perkins’ tenure.

Questionable ethics, investigations by the IRS and FBI, egos and displays of high temper were not part of the previous athletics department actions and behavior.

KU, its faculty and students, alumni and friends and the state of Kansas deserve much better.

Far greater care and attention to members on the selection committee must be given than has been the case in recent selection committees for important and senior KU positions.

Perkins’ departure is just part of the story. Now, a superior successor must be selected to make this a successful story.


kusp8 7 years, 6 months ago

Hey, finally I can agree with an LJWorld editorial!

Phillbert 7 years, 6 months ago

"Was Perkins’ resignation a “package deal” in that he would resign if KU associate athletics director and now interim athletics director Sean Lester was hired as his replacement?"

Um, no. In two places on the LJW front page today it says Lester isn't a candidate to be AD.

Diana Lee 7 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, it would have been so much better for him to leave during the turmoil and possible upheaval of the situation with the status of the Big 12.

KU_cynic 7 years, 6 months ago

Perkins pulled one last self-dealing, self-enriching con on KU. First, he got Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little to agree to allow him a year to retire instead of firing him this past summer -- so he could save some face and make it look as if the recent scandals were not the direct cause of his firing. That was her first mistake. Now having been granted a sunset year, amidst donor, alumni, and faculty discontent (entirely predictable), Perkins negotiates a buyout of sorts to leave "early".

He should have left in July, without squeezing an extra $2 million out of KU.

How much is it going to cost KU to clean out the rest of the "Connecticut mafia" (Keating, Marchione and dam, Lester)? My guess: at least another $2 million in severance, maybe twice as much before this is all over.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 6 months ago

Billybob: B I N G O ! You win the gold star for the morning.

Chris Ogle 7 years, 6 months ago

All I can is Wow..... didn't see this one coming from the Journal World. But, how true it is.

Kent Fisher 7 years, 6 months ago

Jonathan/Whitney, the byline states "athletic" director. This should read "athletics" director.

1983Hawk 7 years, 6 months ago

Not that the editorial doesn't make a few valid points. But:

How predictable it is that Dolph would pile on this morning in a celebratory mood, calling for investigations to continue, etc.

Look, Dolph. We get it. You're still furious it ain't 1993 anymore and you can't go have coffee with Gene Budig, Bob Frederick, Roy Williams, and Laird Noller so the five of you can pretend you run the whole university, the whole town, and the whole universe.

And your accelerating obsession with Perkins began well before many of the problems of the last year were known by you or anyone else. Too bad that the points system kicked a bunch of your blue-haired pals who hadn't given a dime in years out of their seats at Allen Fieldhouse -- seats that they inherited just because their grandparents were chums with some AD back in the 1950s. (You do know about inheriting a lot of things and having an entitlement mentality, right?) The points system ain't going anyplace. Get over it.

You've got more money than God. Do yourself and the university you profess to care about a favor and go buy yourself and island someplace and retire. Your constant negativity is a huge and ongoing black eye for the university, the Lawrence community, and all of us other KU alumni. A black eye that in many respects dwarfs some of the scandals that occurred under Perkins' watch at KUAD.

Diana Lee 7 years, 6 months ago

The fixation on the ticketing system is the most bizarre aspect of this whole article.

Haiku_Cuckoo 7 years, 6 months ago

Oh, Dolph. It must drive you crazy that, despite the scandal, the fact remains that KU reached its highest level of athletic success, new facilities were built and fundraising more than doubled under Lew's leadership. Many years, perhaps decades, will pass before another AD brings that much growth and success to the athletic department again. You may not be around to see it when it happens again, Dolph, so as KU returns to the realm of mediocrity in the coming years please remember that this is what you wanted. If you start to feel sad, just take a drive on I-70 and look at the sign that says "2008 NCAA Basketball Champions and 2008 Orange Bowl Champions". As much as you want to deny it, it happened during the Lew Perkins years.

Frightwig 7 years, 6 months ago

Ummm, actually Haiku is right. KU saw what Lew did at Connecticut:He raised a lot of money, built state-of-the-art sports facilities and had teams win championships there. They hired him to do the same thing here...and he did it. Only a fool would think it was just a miraculous coincidence.

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