Editorial: AD Long made right call on coach Beaty

photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration

Lawrence Journal-World Editorial

University of Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long made the right decision Sunday in announcing that David Beaty would not coach the Jayhawks beyond this season.

It was a change Long had to make if KU Athletics is going to improve its financial outlook and solidify its standing as a member of the Big 12 Conference.

Although Beaty’s 6-39 record was problematic, ultimately the dwindling number of fans at Memorial Stadium forced his ouster.

Neither of the crowds at KU’s last two home football games would have filled 16,300-seat Allen Fieldhouse. In fact, the combined attendance of 30,612 for the TCU game on Oct. 27 and the Iowa State game Saturday was still 6,113 fewer than the 36,725 who watched Kansas play Baylor earlier this season in Waco — the smallest crowd this season at a Big 12 game not played in Lawrence.

Long, who was hired in the summer specifically to revive the KU football program, had seen enough. “After a thorough evaluation of the program, I believe that new leadership is necessary for our football team to move forward and compete at the highest level of the Big 12 Conference,” Long said in announcing the end of the Beaty era.

In discussing the change at a Sunday press conference, Long thanked Beaty for his commitment to the job and noted that the coach is leaving the program in better shape than what he inherited. That is true.

But it’s also true that KU fell well short of what it needs from its football program under Beaty. That was clear during a meeting Long held with the University Senate last week. Faculty members, who learned last summer that KU would be cutting $20 million from its budget during the next two years, wanted to know when KU Athletics would contribute funding back to the university, as is done by other university athletic departments. The University of Arkansas, where Long previously was athletic director, doubled its athletics contribution back to the university during his tenure.

“We are not financially solvent enough to be able to (give back). We are behind many of our competitors,” Long said, adding that KU is “years down the road” from being able to do so.

Priority No. 1 for getting KU Athletics’ financial house in order is fielding a competitive football program, starting by spending what is necessary to bring in an established head coach with experience rebuilding a program.

“We are going to find a proven leader, a tenacious recruiter and a developer of young men on and off the field. As I have routinely said, we will break the cycle,” Long said. “My expectation is that the football program should be a bowl-bound program on a regular basis.”

Long’s vision for the football program is the right one. It’s a vision that Beaty showed in his four seasons that he couldn’t achieve. For the sake of everyone who cares about KU, let’s hope that Long’s choice for the next football coach not only shares his vision but can achieve it.


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