The University of Kansas has fired athletic director Sheahon Zenger, university chancellor Douglas Girod announced in an email sent to faculty and staff on Monday morning.
The Kansas City Star reports that while praising Zenger for his loyalty, Girod also wrote, “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.”
During Zenger’s tenure, the school’s football program struggled mightily. Zenger was hired in 2011, and was behind the hiring of former KU football coach Charlie Weis and current coach David Beaty. Coaches Zenger was responsible for leading the football program amassed a 10-62 record over six seasons.
“Football’s most certainly the most prominent challenge that we have right now,” Girod told the Star. “But it’s also getting excitement behind a vision, getting a fanbase moving behind a vision to really take athletics to the next level. We had lost some momentum there.”
Kansas has also been caught up in a federal investigation of alleged inappropriate relationships between athletics apparel company Adidas and certain college basketball programs, though Girod said that the probe had no impact on his decision to fire Zenger.
Facility improvements were among Zenger’s accomplishments during his tenure, with the Star crediting him with the construction of Rock Chalk Park for the track and field, softball, soccer and tennis programs, and the construction of athlete-focused dorm McCarthy Hall. The university is also in the midst of constructing a $26 million indoor football practice facility, which looks to be completed this fall.
Assistant athletics director Sean Lester will lead the department on an interim basis.