Like most folks at Kansas University, I listened to the announcement of the appointment of Sheahon Zenger as the new athletic director. As a faculty member and as a columnist for this newspaper I have followed the history of Kansas Athletics since the late Bob Frederick gave up the AD’s slot with both skepticism and worry. As regular readers will know, I was unhappy with many of the changes instituted by Al Bohl and believed that former football coach Mark Mangino’s antics were inappropriate for a university coach. (I have saved the hundreds of critical letters and emails I received when I questioned Mangino’s behavior just so I will never forget the fanatic support he received … until he started losing games.)
I always thought that Bob Frederick was a decent man and a gentleman and I thought that he set a tone for athletics at KU which was very positive. From what I’ve seen of our newly appointed AD, he appears to be similarly decent and a genuinely nice guy. It gives me hope that the friction between Kansas Athletics and so many faculty and alumni might be lessened.
I’m sure the new AD doesn’t need my advice but I do have requests which I hope he will consider. I make these requests as a faculty member who has spent 17 years at KU and as a Douglas County resident for the same amount of time:
Please consider returning the Kansas-Missouri game to Lawrence. Every resident of Lawrence — and every business in Lawrence — will be forever in your debt if you do this.
Please re-examine the changes made in ticket and seating policy by your predecessor. I can think of nothing that has upset loyal KU fans more during my time at KU than the combination of the new policies and the ticket office scandal. You have the chance to start afresh; don’t miss this opportunity.
Don’t forget the nonrevenue sports. Football and basketball bring in the money, but the less lucrative sports also are a central experience for every student who gets to participate and have loyal fans as well.
Please don’t forget the agreement made by Chancellor Gray-Little with your predecessor in which KUAC promised to provide substantial support (up to $40 million) to the university academic mission. That agreement seems to have been put on the back burner. Make it happen.
Be nice to Bill Self (as if you didn’t know).
Our new AD has the potential to be a very strong force at the university. He’s a Kansan, understands university athletics, and, judging by his record, has great integrity. I wish him well.