University of Kansas Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger was relieved of his duties this morning by Chancellor Doug Girod. Zenger was let go without cause so he will get a payout of a little more than $1.4 million. That includes two years of his salary, $700 thousand, plus health insurance premiums ($1,419,309).
“This morning I met with Sheahon and relieved him of his duties,” Girod said. “Sheahon has been a loyal Jayhawk, and Kansas Athletics has improved in many ways under his leadership. But the department 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, a change in leadership is necessary.”
The deputy athletics director, Sean Lester, will take over as the interim AD.
Girod let the student body of KU know in a message to the community. In it he said:
“Since becoming chancellor, I have spent countless hours with higher education peers and Jayhawks to hear their perspective on KU,” he wrote. “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 mission as a flagship research university. The other common thread in these conversations is optimism for Kansas Athletics,” he wrote. “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 athletics director.”
In addition to Lester taking over as interim AD, Girod has enlisted the help of a former interim AD Drue Jennings to lead the search process for the next Athletic Director. Jennings was part of the search process that brought Bill Self to Kansas.