Kansas Head Coaches Comment on the Retirement of Lew Perkins and Conference Expansion
June 10, 2010
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas football coach Turner Gill, women’s basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson and men’s basketball coach Bill Self commented on Thursday’s announcement on the retirement of athletics director Lew Perkins in September 2011. Gill was working a football camp in Wichita, Kan., while Henrickson was hosting camp on the KU campus. Self met with approximately 50 media at Allen Fieldhouse and also commented on conference expansion.
Turner Gill, Head Football Coach:
“I am saddened and I love him. Lew has done some great things for the University of Kansas and all of college athletics during his career. He has had a tremendous influence on all student-athletes he has had contact with. His leaving doesn’t affect the vision our staff has for our football program. We are here to build relationships with our fans, alumni and everyone associated with the university and to bring excellence to our football program.”
Bonnie Henrickson, Head Women’s Basketball Coach:
“In speaking with Lew, when he shared with me his decision to retire, for him personally I was happy. But honestly, professionally for women’s basketball and for the athletic department it saddens me because he has been a great leader.
“He’s been a great role model for me. I’ve known him for a long, long time, before I ever got here. He has carried the flag for women’s basketball across the country from an administrative standpoint, even prior to him being at Connecticut. He made what used to be very unpopular decisions for women’s basketball popular for the sport – revenue, resources.
“For him personally, for his family, for his grandchildren, for Gwen, I’m happy for him. I just wrestle with my own sadness for his retirement.”
Bill Self, Head Men’s Basketball Coach (to media):
On Lew Perkins’ retirement announcement:
“It is surprising, but not shocking. I don’t know everything that’s going on in his personal life, but he has talked about what he and his wife are going to do for retirement. They’ve been looking forward to that day for quite some time now. I’m not talking about the last two months, but the last year or so. I knew that the day would come. I think everyone knew the day would come, it’s just surprising that it came today. I think a positive is the fact that it’s not an immediate deal. We need his leadership over the next year to make sure that we are in the best situation we could possibly be in.”
On his concern for the basketball program:
“Well, there is obviously concern, in large part because at the coach’s level we don’t exactly have the inside scoop. It is frustrating, because the appearance is in the next few hours or days, is that we may not have a conference. I don’t think that the Big 12 is giving up or losing the trademark or throwing in the towel, and I think it’s actively pursuing all options, but we’re still holding out hope that it doesn’t play out the way that it certainly appears that it’s going to. I think that would cause unrest for any program, the other schools in our league, and the other fans because this is going to change the landscape for college athletics, not for the next five or 10 years, but maybe the next 30 to 50 years. We definitely want to be able to compete and sell the same things that this university has always been able to sell, and that is to be able to compete against the very best on a continuous basis. The nervousness is not if we are going to get in a league, in my opinion. The nervousness is, not knowing right now. This could very well play out to be a good time for us, we just don’t have any idea what that good thing is just yet.”
On going to a BCS league:
“We are going to be in a BCS league, I’m totally confident about that. If something were to happen where we weren’t, we’d adjust. One thing we have going for us that not everyone can sell is our brand. They talk about the Nebraska brand that I heard mentioned several times. The KU brand is pretty good and you think about the success the basketball program has had over time. Wherever we play, we’re going to win. I really believe that. We would like to be able to sell the same things we’ve been selling over time, but I do believe we’ll end up in what is perceived to be a BCS-type conference. They may not even call it a BCS conference two years from now. But it may take some time, who knows what that timetable will be.”
On the football-driven alignment:
“Well, to me that’s frustrating, but I also understand that money does drive it. The potential for revenue is far greater for football than it is in basketball. So that’s understandable. What frustrates me the most is the NCAA has made a bold statement in recent years that does a great job of promoting student-athlete welfare, class attendance, and making sure we provide students the best chance to be educated and have the best experience they could possibly have. To me, conference realignment is when you’re crossing two time zones and you miss extra days of class. I don’t see how that is student-athlete friendly. I think it is very frustrating. I’m frustrated now, not just for our program, but the football program. How many schools in America in the last five years have won a BCS game and have won a national championship in the two biggest revenue sports there are. We have. Obviously, Florida has done the best as far as winning championships, but we have some good stuff here. For that not to be considered as strongly, in large part because of where we live, or because our state isn’t populated enough, or whatever the reasons are, is frustrating. I think that does take away from what sports are all about.”