Report: Kansas offers Tulsa AD job

Updated: December 15, 2010, 1:02 PM ET
Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tulsa athletic director Bubba Cunningham has been offered the same job at Kansas and was in the process of working out contract details Wednesday, The Associated Press has learned.

A person familiar with the search process said Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little offered the job to Cunningham after a search committee submitted a short list of finalists and ranked him as their No. 1 preference.

"Kansas wants him and he wants Kansas. They're just trying to get everything finalized," said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the hiring had not been completed. "It would be a surprise if he is not the next AD at Kansas."

The hope is to have everything worked out in time for Cunningham to be introduced to the crowd at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday when No. 3 Kansas hosts USC in a men's basketball game.

Cunningham did not immediately return calls to The Associated Press. Gray-Little was out of the office Wednesday and not available. Jack Martin, deputy director of university communications, said no announcement was planned.

Cunningham, 48, would replace Lew Perkins, who retired in September after a ticket scam scandal and accusations of personal misconduct.

Cunningham, a graduate of Notre Dame, has had a very successful five-year tenure at Tulsa. He became manager of ticketing and marketing at his alma mater in 1988 and spent the next 14 years rising steadily up the ranks to associate athletic director for external affairs in 2000. From 2002-2005, he was athletic director at Ball State.

Tulsa under Cunningham made a $25 million renovation to the football stadium and spent almost $10 million in construction of the Case Athletic Complex. Since Cunningham arrived, Tulsa has won 31 Conference USA championships.

Whoever replaces Perkins will have a swarm of angry alumni to pacify. Five former athletic department employees who were either hired or promoted by Perkins have been indicted in an alleged ticket scam that cost the school as much as $3 million. Perkins has not been implicated in the scam, but was accused of personal misconduct involving exorbitant travel costs and the accepting of gifts that violate state ethics.

It was a spectacular fall from grace for Perkins, who helped raise millions of dollars and spearheaded a much-needed building program that included improvements to Allen Fieldhouse and badly needed new football facilities. In 2008, he was named by Time Magazine as the collegiate administrator of the year. But he retired in September, a year earlier than planned.

The men's basketball team, ranked No. 3 this week with a 9-0 record, is just about the only Kansas program that has been performing at a championship level. Many donors are also upset that Perkins gave football coach Turner Gill a $10 million guaranteed contract even though he had no experience as a head coach at the major college level. Gill's first year resulted in a 3-9 record.

Fans have also been angry over an unpopular points system which Perkins instituted for the purchase of football and basketball tickets, a system which many people apparently skirted by using the ticket scam.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press