Kansas University’s athletic director repeated old themes Thursday, saying he remains focused on helping student-athletes with the transition into adulthood.
Sheahon Zenger spoke at a luncheon hosted by the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.
He’s a coach at heart, he said, and added that he felt that messages are best sent by reinforcement and reminders, but he did take questions from the audience:
New Arrowhead answer: As with an earlier appearance before a Lawrence Rotary Club, Zenger was asked about the KU-Missouri football game at Arrowhead Stadium.
At the Rotary Club, Zenger said that as of now Kansas Athletics needs the revenue from the game and can’t afford to pull it back to Lawrence.
Thursday, he struck a different tone.
“Everything’s under review,” he said, and asked that he be able to “live through a cycle” before making a decision. He added that he hadn’t even been to the game at Arrowhead yet.
Athletes and social media: One audience member asked whether he had any kind of policy related to athletes’ use of social media sites like Twitter.
“Each coach handles their own teams with that sort of thing,” he said.
At Illinois State, where he previously served as athletic director, he recalled a “phone coach” on the basketball team who was responsible for collecting all the players’ phones when they went on the road. He remembered one incident when a phone vibrated, and some of the players pulled out a second phone to see if it was theirs.
“You can try to stay a step ahead of them,” Zenger said. “But they’re better at it than we are.”
Team rankings: Zenger was asked about the performance of all athletic teams relative to other schools in the conference. KU was ranked at the bottom of the conference in the Learfield Director’s Cup standings last month.
“We need to start improving in every sport,” he said. “Just having Kansas on your chest isn’t good enough.”
The rankings are important, he said, and particularly the rankings among conference teams.
“We’re proud of this place, and we need to earn that pride in all sports,” he said.
Naismith’s rules: There still isn’t a specific plan for the display of James Naismith’s rules of basketball, Zenger said. Alumnus David Booth purchased the document for more than $4 million with the intent of displaying them in Lawrence.
“When we do it, we’ll do it right,” Zenger said.