KU Director of Athletics Sheahon Zenger is out of a job, and the taxpayers of Kansas are out a caboodle of money, slightly north of $1.4 million to be more or less precise.
The announcement from Chancellor Douglas A. Girod was surprisingly blunt. “This morning I met with Sheahon and relieved him of his duties,” said Girod, sounding a bit like General U.S. Grant relieving Gen. Rosecrans after the botch at Chickamauga.
Zenger’s Chickamauga was KU football. Girod did not say as much, but he might as well have. “Progress in key areas has been elusive,” he said of the deposed director. “To achieve the level of success we need and expect, a change in leadership is necessary.” In that Zenger had two years left on his contract, KU had to pay him for those two years.
The proverbial handwriting had been on the wall for some time. A month ago, the Sentinel ran an article headlined, “Why Does Highest Paid State Employee Still Have a Job, Website Asks.”
“Dr. Zenger had nothing to do with Kansas basketball going to the Final Four in 2018,” claimed the website dedicated to saving Kansas football. “Kansas basketball has been on auto pilot under the direction of Coach (Bill) Self and the other six head coaches since 1898 at Kansas…The only thing that Dr. Zenger should take credit for is not ruining Kansas basketball, like he has Kansas football.”
Zenger was hired to fix Kansas football and the program is “sinking like the Titanic,” the site insisted.
The team’s record since 2011 is 12-72, and the squad hasn’t competed in a bowl game since 2008. Attendance at football games has dropped from an average of 42,283 in 2011 to 26,641 in 2017.
“This is millions of revenue to the university that is being lost every year,” the website noted. “The city of Lawrence is also losing millions of dollars of commerce generated by those lost fans choosing to stay put at home.”
Today, the website greeted its readers with the joyful headline, “BREAKING NEWS. SHEAHON ZENGER FIRED!” A search is underway for a new athletic director. Here’s hoping that KU can find one for less than $700,000 a year.