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KU names Sheahon Zenger new athletic director

New KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger.

New KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger.

January 2, 2011, 4:22 p.m. Updated January 2, 2011, 4:29 p.m.


Sheahon Zenger Timeline

• 1987 — Graduated from Kansas State with bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education

• 1987 — Accepted first football coaching gig, working with freshmen at Manhattan High School

• 1988 — Accepted position with Drake football team as graduate assistant

• 1989 — Served as assistant recruiting coordinator/director of football operations at Kansas State

• 1992 — Earned master’s in journalism and mass communication from Kansas State

• 1993-95 — Became editor of American Football Quarterly magazine

• 1996 — Earned Ph.D. in educational policy and leadership from Kansas University

• 1996 — Accepted position as recruiting coordinator for South Florida football team

• 1997 — Became recruiting coordinator for Wyoming football team

• 1998 — Promoted to assistant head coach at Wyoming

• 2000 — Worked in Kansas State College of Business as director of development

• 2001-02 — Became assistant athletics director for major gifts at Kansas State

• 2002-05 — Promoted to associate athletics director for development at Kansas State

• 2005-10 — Served as athletic director for Illinois State

• 2010 — Accepted athletic director position at Kansas University, replacing Lew Perkins

Kansas University has named Sheahon Zenger its next athletic director.

Zenger is currently the athletic director at Illinois State University and is a Kansas native and KU graduate.

“With his experience and leadership skills, Sheahon Zenger is the best choice to lead Kansas Athletics into the future. He is exactly who we need as athletics director, working to ensure that every Jayhawk team succeeds on the field and in the classroom, as well as making sure our programs operate with the utmost integrity,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little in a statement.

Zenger will be officially introduced at a news conference at 1:30 p.m. Monday. He will start at KU on February 1, 2011.

Dr. Sheahon (pronounced SHAY-un) Zenger comes to KU after spending six years as athletic director for Illinois State.

A native of Hays, Zenger helped Illinois State capture the Missouri Valley’s All-Sports Trophy in both 2008 and 2010. ISU also has had a 65-percent growth in its scholarship fund memberships since his arrival, while the athletic department has posted record-high grade-point averages in each of the last four years.

Prior to joining ISU, Zenger was the associate athletics director for development at Kansas State from 2002-05. Before that, he spent two years as KSU’s assistant athletics director for major gifts and also spent a year with the KSU College of Business as director of development. He graduated from KSU in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in English and secondary education. He later earned his master’s in journalism and mass communication from KSU in 1992 before earning a Ph.D. in educational policy and leadership from KU in 1996.

Before moving to administration, Zenger was a football coach. His first coaching gig was with Manhattan High School in 1987, and he moved on to Drake as a graduate assistant for a year before accepting a football position with KSU in 1989.

At age 23, Zenger was one of the nation’s youngest full-time football staff members, serving as assistant recruiting coordinator and director of football operations for KSU coach Bill Snyder.

From 1993-95, Zenger was editor of American Football Quarterly — a magazine for football coaches. In 1996, he became recruiting coordinator for South Florida before accepting the same position with the University of Wyoming the following year.

In 1998, Zenger was promoted to assistant head coach at Wyoming.

At ISU, Zenger served on numerous NCAA committees, including the NCAA Div. I Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement.

Zenger and his wife, Pam, have three children: Luke, Abby and Jake.

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parrothead8 6 years ago

Do you think many coaches who would have accepted the KU job could have done any better with the recruits left behind by Mangino? The important thing is that the team looked better at the end of the season than at the beginning. With a few years of his own recruits, Turner Gill will make KU's football team better.

Kash_Encarri 6 years ago

Harbaugh was offered the job before Gill. Two things kept him from accepting. The team he had at Stanford v KU's returning roster and Rich Rodriguez being the coach at Michigan. Look for Luck to declare for the draft and JH to head for East Lansing within the next month.

Kash_Encarri 6 years ago

D@mn!t, I knew I would do that. I had Sparty on my mind for some reason. :-)

TikiLee 6 years ago

Mark Mangino's first season at KU: 2002 2–10 (overall) 0–8 (conference)

Turner Gill's first season at KU: 2010 3–9 (overall) 1–7 (conference)

I'd say he's doing ok, not great, but better than some.

average 6 years ago

Mark Mangino's starting base salary at KU in 2002? $128,438 per year (5-year contract).

This is KU. We're used to 3-9. It's paying in the top 25 of coaches for 3-9 that gets a lot of us braying for blood.

rgh 6 years ago

Like him or not he deserves a chance to win. That will take at least two more years and maybe even 3. He has the assistants to recruit and Mangino definitely didn't need leave many players in reserve.

gorilla10 6 years ago

Job 1.......change the overall look and atmosphere of our athletic department so our fans don't sound as stupid as you do.....

Vinny1 6 years ago

And Benadette f's up another thing.

kuprof54 6 years ago

@Vinny1: you're completely correct. Who is this guy? its like he was AD for a community college or something. It's the same mistake as Gill. He may have accomplished a lot in his league, but this is a whole other league. And with the amount that we pay these people, you'd think we would have top talent. At a D1 school and with the money we pay, we should be trading talent with some of the biggest ADs in that arena - not some up and comer from a league no one's ever heard of.

For KU's sake, I hope he's great. But his hodge-podge of education and career leads me to think he's unqualified. Oh well, at least he'll fit in with the rest of the leaders on Mt. Oread - overpaid and unqualified.

davidsmom 6 years ago

I'm so glad you people have a crystal ball and can state with certainty that this gentleman will be no good as AD at KU. And since you are so much smarter than the chancellor and the search committee, did you offer them your advice? Because I'm sure they would have been delighted to have some qualified advice from significant constituents.

Todd Haley had never been a head coach in the NFL before the Chiefs, and look what he was able to do in just two years. Frank Martin's only head coaching job before K-State was at the high school level, and look what he's been able to do.

I know we're not talking about the hiring of a coach here, but why don't you give the guy a chance before you declare him unqualified and inept.

Dinker 6 years ago

But davidsmom, then they wouldn't be able to bitch and moan in the comments, don't ya know?

mom_of_three 6 years ago

Wasn't Frank martin a AAU coach before KSU? That is a little different than a high school coach. That is dealing and coaching college talent.

Take_a_letter_Maria 6 years ago

Delonte (sp?) was the AAU coach. Not Frank.

And being an AAU coach makes you even less qualified. You may have the talent, but it's just roll the ball out on the floor and get out of the way. There is very little coaching going on in AAU ball.

tophawk87 6 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Dinker 6 years ago

Was it the egotistical profile name (that implies an age of around 23), the lack of punctuation, or the way they incorrectly spelled "dumb"? It was all three for me.

Matt Bowers 6 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Tim Quest 6 years ago

Thou doth protest too much, Cletus.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years ago

"Zenger will be officially introduced at a news conference at 1:30 p.m. Monday. He will start at KU on February 1, 2011."

J-W has jumped the gun again. I guess this newspaper will never learn in it's never ending quest to survive in a world where printed newspapers are dropping like flies.

It is not official or true until the University says so officially.

How difficult is it to understand this concept?

Dinker 6 years ago

"It is not official or true until the University says so officially."

You might want to check the KU website homepage.

Just sayin'...

Take_a_letter_Maria 6 years ago

Not to mention BGL being interviewed during the game and announcing it.

hail2oldku 6 years ago

Looks like one of those that could easily be added to that dreaded school bored (yes I spelled it that way on purpose) collage.

Chuck Woodling 6 years ago

It's the second time Kansas has hired the athletic director at Illinois State. The first? The late Bob Frederick. Another coincidence — both owned doctorates in education when hired.

Mary Darst 6 years ago

Jeez, people say some really dumb stuff on here.

slowplay 6 years ago

Yes, but the entertainment is priceless.

Mr_Missive 6 years ago

KU always hires from ISU. Budig, Frederick and now Zenger. We can't grow our own. Thank you ISU. Unfortunately KU is only big time in Bball. That's all we offer an AD.

missmagoo 6 years ago

He kind of looks like a job hopper!

Way to go BGL! (insert sarcasm here)

seagull 6 years ago

Anyone with a coaching background moves a lot. Six years at ISU is not exactly job hopping. Commenters here are either unrealistic or nuts. We were either going to get an associate ad from a BCS school or an ad from a university like Tulsa or ISU. What exactly, on paper anyway, made Cunningham a better choice in critics' minds? The Notre Dame connection? People didn't like Perkins because he was an easterner whose style ruffled midwestern feathers. Well, we got a midwesterner with good ole midwestern values to replace him and now we aren't happy with that either. Give Zenger a chance.

Topiarydan 6 years ago

As an ISU alumnus, you are gettting a great guy and a great AD. ISU is not some chicken scratch school. While we don't have a DI-A football program, a team in our conference North Dakota State that we beat didn't do too bad against KU. This guy will be a lifer at KU and will help KU navigate its football program back to a solid standing while keeping the hoops program at the pinnacle. Give Sheahon a chance and you'll see the great things he'll do for KU athletics, the students, faculty and alums. Good luck this year in March Madness. Perhaps we'll get lucky and grab a 16 seed and play you in the first round

slowplay 6 years ago

I believe you are right. Everything I've read about Zenger has been positive. Most of the negative comments are from the usual gang of naysayers.

irvan moore 6 years ago

he has what appears to be a pretty good football background, do you think he was told before hiring he could not replace Gill?

BruceWayne 6 years ago

good luck Dr. Zenger! Welcome back.

Lindsey Buscher 6 years ago

I just don't like the strong ties to KSUck.

Kontum1972 6 years ago

gee most of you are ready to execute this guy before he even starts....what the H*LL is wrong with you all....?

If your alumni take it up with the alumni center and voice your opinions, tell them you are going to stop the thousands of dollars u donate very year to KU...i am pretty sure they will listen if your going to cut-off the Alumni Loyalty Fund process.

squawkhawk 6 years ago

Great! A K-Stater at the helm of our storied athletic deptartment. Oh well, he probably couldn't screw it up any more than it already is. Good Grief!

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