KU athletic director removed as advisory board chair

Thursday, August 19, 2010 | 12:27 p.m. CDT; updated 12:45 p.m. CDT, Thursday, August 19, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Kansas athletics director will no longer be in charge of an advisory board that runs its intercollegiate sports programs, the head of the university said.

In light of concerns raised over the past year about questionable actions by Athletics Director Lew Perkins, he will no longer be chairman of the six-member Kansas Athletics Corp. board of directors, Chancellor Bernadette Gray Little told the Kansas Board of Regents on Wednesday.

The athletic corporation is a non-state entity that manages the university's sports programs, including hiring coaches, upgrading facilities and coordinating fundraising for construction and athlete scholarships.

Gray-Little told the Regents at a meeting in Overland Park, Kan., that a faculty member will hold that post in the future.

Perkins has made recent headlines over allegations that he was being blackmailed over home gym equipment he received and the recent disclosure that he billed the university for extensive travel on private planes.

Regents chairman Gary Sherrer asked the chancellor and Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz to consider adding members to the board and others like it who are not affiliated with the universities.

The regents have raised concerns over the past year about the universities' athletic corporations, including a ticket scandal at Kansas that resulted in federal charges and an audit critical of internal operations at Kansas State.

"We think outside eyes would be helpful to add oversight," Sherrer said.

But while changes are in the works at Kansas, Schulz said no such changes in who chairs the state's other Big 12 university's athletic board or who can be members are planned.

"I have serious concerns with confidentiality if someone external is added to the board," Schulz said.

He said outsiders might find it difficult to keep certain matters confidential, such as coaching contract negotiations.

Responding to the latest Perkins' issue, Gray-Little released a statement late Wednesday saying that the trips Perkins billed the university that were detailed in a Kansas City Star story "were reviewed and had been approved in accordance with the policies and procedures that had been in place for several years."

She added that the university "should exercise good judgment and operate in an efficient and prudent manner this is especially the case in the current economic climate."

The Star found that Perkins billed the athletic department more than $150,000 from July 2008 through May 2010 for 22 flights on university and leased aircraft. He also took 23 private flights during that span on planes owned by athletic boosters.

Perkins has announced that he will retire in 2011.

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