Chancellor Appoints Search Committee for KU Athletics Director

University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little today appointed a committee to conduct a nationwide search for the university’s next athletics director. Three members of the committee, including the chair, are from outside the university and Kansas Athletics.

The committee will be led by Ray Evans, managing partner of Pegasus Capital Management in Overland Park. Other committee members are:

— Kenneth L. Audus, dean of the KU School of Pharmacy and professor of pharmaceutical chemistry
— Ritch Price, head baseball coach at KU
— Linda Ellis Sims, account executive with ExxonMobil Corp.
— Debbie Van Saun, associate athletics director/senior women’s administrator
— Thomas Ward, president and CEO of Russell Stover Candies in Kansas City, Mo.

The committee will hold its first meeting within the next few weeks. Gray-Little said her goal is to have a new athletics director named by end of the spring 2011 semester “or sooner.” Sean Lester is interim athletics director following Lew Perkins’ retirement.

Audus, who earned a bachelor’s in chemistry from the University of South Dakota in 1980 and a doctorate in pharmacology from KU in 1984, has taught at the school since 1986 and became dean in 2004. The school is a national leader in pharmacy research, ranking second in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding, and next month dedicates a new $50 million facility. Audus also is professor of molecular and integrative physiology at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

Evans earned two KU degrees — a bachelor’s in business in 1982 and a master’s of business administration in 1984 — and played football for the Jayhawks from 1978 to 1980. He also is a KU Endowment trustee and a member the KU Alumni Association National Board of Directors.

Price, KU’s baseball coach since 2002, has been a college coach for more than 30 years. He led the Jayhawks to the 2006 Big 12 conference title and to two NCAA tournaments. He earned a bachelor’s in physical education from Willamette University in Oregon in 1978 and a master’s degree from California State University-Hayward (now CSU-East Bay) in 1987.

Sims earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from KU in 1979. In addition to serving as a KU Endowment trustee, she is a member of the KU School of Engineering advisory board. Sims was a member of the Jayhawk swim team for two years, lettering in 1975 and 1976. KU was crowned the Big 8 Conference champions both years.

Van Saun served in numerous roles for the city of Lawrence for 28 years and was assistant city manager before joining the Kansas Athletics staff in 2007. She supervises rowing, men’s golf, women’s golf, softball, swimming and diving and provides administrative guidance to those coaches and their programs. She also monitors Kansas Athletics’ efforts to comply with Title IX and NCAA gender equity principles as well as NCAA governance issues. She has a bachelor’s in education and master’s in public administration from KU.

Ward earned a bachelor’s at KU in 1980. Russell Stover Candies, the nation’s leading manufacturer of boxed chocolates with its Russell Stover, Whitman’s and Pangburn’s brands, is headquartered in Kansas City, Mo. He and his family have been major benefactors to the university and to Kansas Athletics, including the Ward Family Scholarship Suites at Memorial Stadium.