I am writing to inform you of a leadership change in Kansas Athletics.
This morning I met with Director of Athletics Sheahon Zenger and informed him that I am relieving him of his duties, effective immediately.
Sheahon has been a loyal Jayhawk, and our athletics department has improved in many areas under his leadership. But Athletics continues to face a number of challenges, and progress in key areas has been elusive. To achieve the level of success we need and expect, I have determined a change in leadership is necessary.
Sean Lester, our deputy athletics director, will serve as interim director. I have spoken with Sean about my expectations for the coming months, and I am confident he will provide sound leadership and stability during this transition.
I have begun the process of identifying a permanent athletics director. To lead this process, I have enlisted Drue Jennings, one of our most respected and accomplished alumni. Many of you know Drue as our interim athletics director in 2003 and for his role in leading the search processes that brought Chancellor Gray-Little and Coach Self to KU. Jed Hughes, a consultant with the Korn Ferry executive search firm, will assist Drue.
In addition, earlier today I spoke with Coach Beaty and shared my expectation that he will continue recruiting hard and getting his team ready for the season.
Since becoming chancellor, I have spent countless hours with higher education peers and Jayhawks to hear their perspective on KU. A common thread in these conversations is that, as a major public university with national aspirations, we must continue to strive for excellence in all areas — including athletics. As I have said many times, a successful athletics department is inextricably linked to our broader mission as a flagship research university.
The other common thread in these conversations is optimism for Kansas Athletics. Across the country, we are recognized as having elite programs, a proud tradition, and a loyal fan base. These assets will serve us well as we identify a new leader for Kansas Athletics.
I want to thank Sheahon for his service during the past seven years. Under his leadership, student-athlete GPAs reached an all-time high. Rock Chalk Park, McCarthy Hall, and the DeBruce Center are lasting tributes to his efforts. Most importantly, he prioritized our student-athletes and represented KU with integrity and class.
Thank you for your support in moving KU forward.
Douglas A. Girod
University of Kansas