Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little should be congratulated for recent moves to take control and move the KU athletics department forward.
After moving up the scheduled departure of Athletics Director Lew Perkins by about a year, Gray-Little appointed what appears to be a strong committee to search for Perkins’ replacement. The members of the committee announced last week are fresh faces, not the usual “big cigars” who seek to solidify their spots in the KU athletics inner circle.
Both moves indicate Gray-Little’s desire to bring more transparency to KU’s athletics department and make the department more accountable to the chancellor’s office.
The chancellor told the Kansas Board of Regents last week that the school is increasing its control over the athletics ticket system and its oversight of the athletics department. Steps also are being taken, she said, to make the points system that allocates seats for athletic events more transparent, allowing donors to see exactly how seating is determined and how many points are required for seats in various areas of Allen Fieldhouse and Memorial Stadium. All of these steps are needed to restore confidence in Kansas Athletics following a recent ticket scandal in which five former KU athletics employees and a consultant were implicated in the theft and sale of millions of dollars worth of KU athletics tickets.
Following the announcement that Perkins would leave his post immediately, Gray-Little said the university would be looking for a new athletics director with experience, integrity and a style that relates well to people. Last week, she named a six-member search committee to carry out that task. The members include a KU dean, several KU supporters in private business, KU’s baseball coach and an administrator for women’s sports at KU. It’s a group that goes outside the athletics inner circle and hopefully will approach its task with an open mind and a clear focus on finding an athletic director that will rise above recent scandals and re-establish the integrity of the department.
It’s been a difficult few months for Kansas Athletics. It’s good that KU’s chancellor is taking firm steps to deal with that difficult period and move the department forward in a way that will reflect credit on the university.