With a year still left on his contract, Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins has decided to throw in the towel early. The announcement was made Tuesday in a press conference by Perkins and university chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. In true Richard Nixon-like fashion, Perkins said in statement that his retirement was effective immediately and was unavailable for comment afterward.
Perkins’ time in Lawrence was filled with highs and lows. The now former AD oversaw $150 million worth of renovations to football and basketball facilities, including $32 million to new football offices and practice space.
On-the-field success reached a pinnacle in 2008 when Kansas won the Orange Bowl in football and the national championship in men’s basketball.
Those moments of glory would be short-lived, however. Over the past year, Perkins has been the subject of several controversies including a ticket scam involving members of Perkins’ staff that cost the university nearly $3 million. Allegedly, staff members under Perkins sold football and basketball tickets and pocketed the profits. The scam caught the attention of federal authorities and six employees have been implicated.
Perkins was also accused of engaging in excessive travel arrangements to university sporting events and unlawfully accepted free use of exercise equipment in his home.
“I am grateful that Chancellor [Robert] Hemenway allowed Gwen and me to come to Lawrence to be part of the great university,” Perkins said during the press conference. “We love this community. We consider it home. This decision will give us a chance to stay involved in the community in different ways. It will also allow me to explore other professional opportunities.”
Senior associate athletic director Sean Lester will serve as interim athletic director.