Zenger interview touches on several topics
Just minutes ago Kansas athletics director Dr. Sheahon appeared on Jayhawk Insider giving his latest thoughts on the athletic department. Zenger talked about the success of several sports and what he has seen from David Beaty as he builds the football program.
Here is a portion of the answers Zenger gave during the segment. (watch entire interview above)
On getting out and talking with donors and fans:
That's my favorite thing to do is get out amongst the people. I just got back from Emporia last night and had a chance with coach Beaty in the summer to be all over the state and throughout the nation. Next week it is somewhere else and a few weeks ago it was Winfield. Our spring and fall updates (on Jayhawk Insider) are a chance to talk to everybody and not just the isolated pockets.
I think that is part of when I got the job years ago that's one of the things I committed to. I'm a Kansan, a native Kansan, and very proud of my three times in Lawrence. It is just the way I think we Kansans communicate. It is easier than the written word or the computer because you can actually interact more personable with them.
On the success of several sports:
Going back four-and-a-half, five years ago there were three things that were really priorities for us. Number one is to protect the brand of men's basketball, the elite status of that sport. That goes without saying for anyone in the Jayhawk Nation. Number two was to elevate all of the other sports. That is probably something our staff is the most proud of right now. We have had more teams in postseason play in the last two years then we had in the last decade. That is across the board.
And third was to rebuild the football program, which has taken some time. We've tried that a couple different ways the last five years. But we've got the guy now that I believe the whole Jayhawk Nation can solidly get behind and support for a good chunk of time.
Early thoughts on working with Beaty:
Working with David Beaty is a joy every day. What you see is what you get. He is one of the most authentic and genuine coaches that I have ever met. The players love him, the coaches love them, our staff loves him. Our fans and donors love him as well. That may seem like an overstatement but it is not. More than that he is one of the best recruiters in the country and he is a darn good coach. I get to be at practice. I get to be in the locker room and I wish our fans could be with me behind the doors every day. You come over to this complex and it feels like a winning program day in and day out.
I had the benefit in my life of being with five or six major college football programs. One of those was one of the nation's largest rebuilds and another one was a startup. This is what it feels like. We've tried it several different ways here in the past but this is what it feels like.
He is a guy with a great football acumen. I tell him this and I'm stepping out of my comfort zone to admit this but when the search process was going on and the search committee was drawn to him for certain reasons. My favorite piece is that he spent 10 years as a high school coach in the early part of his career. Not unlike Art Briles from Baylor. When you see him out on the field and come to a practice it is usually easy to find a head coach, but it is hard to find him because he is in the middle of the pack somewhere with his ball cap on teaching and instructing.
Adding new features to the Anderson Family Football Complex:
It is eight or nine years old. It was probably at that time state of the art and it is still state of the art. What we realized when coach Beaty came in it is like building a new house, we hadn't really touched it up. He talked to me and a few of our staff members and said guys we need to put some splash, some pizzazz in here. And $200,000 later there is a lot of eye candy.
We've really focused on Aqib Talib, Chris Harris, Todd Ressing so when you are in this building and you are a young student athlete football player you are around those that did it before you. That was important to coach Beaty.
On future renovations to Memorial Stadium:
I get asked this a lot. Finally I get to say this to a larger population. First of all they did too good of job in the 1920s. Think about what this must have looked like then and they picked the best location in all of the nation for a college football stadium. With that we have the drawings completed for what we want to do to the stadium. We're out amongst our major stakeholders looking for those lead donors and we have several in front of us right now. We're letting them tell us for that investment what they want to see in the stadium.
What we have right now we won't release because it is not going to look like that because we are continually tweaking it to what the stakeholders want.
This is a project of such magnitude that it will impact the entire University. We haven't, in athletics, had a project like this since Allen Fieldhouse in the 1950s. It isn't lost on me and others just how important this will be. We're going to measure twice, maybe three times before we cut. This has to be done once and done right. And with that it will be all hands on deck.
That is partly why in the first four or five years we have spent time on a track stadium, a soccer stadium, a softball stadium, a tennis facility, the DeBruce Center, the McCarthy Apartments… clearing the deck so there is only one project in front of us so everyone knows this is it.
On a new tennis facility being added:
It was approved to build a new tennis facility out at Rock Chalk Park. I didn't think when I got here we would be building tennis facilities but we are. It goes in line with what we have been doing for all of the other sports.