The fallen former KU athletics director hit the skids and then the road two years back after seven years of shaking down Jayhawk faithful for basketball and football ticket donation dough, a pair of hugely unhappy football coaching changes, ticket scalping, travel and bribery scandals and a controversial, undeserved $2.6 million going away paycheck.
Since then mum’s pretty much been the word around Lawrence where nobody seems to know much about Perkins current whereabouts, nor care.
Oddly though, in June an oddball campaign to restore Perkins good name began to pop up on obscure web sites like jumpchrisjump.com.
“People who achieve greatness are those who continue to inspire you in their lifetime,” the unsigned post begins. “Lew Perkins, experienced and veteran athletics director for a number of state universities in the USA, is one of them. He has been a man whose reputation has slightly suffered from a scandal which erupted during his stay at Kansas University. However, there is no denying whatever the man has accomplished in his lifetime as a sports coach and director at a number of universities in the country. Here is a quick look at all that Lew Perkins has achieved over the years as a highly able and competent athletics director.”
Perkins well-documented missteps at Kansas transformed him from power broker to pariah, all but insuring he’ll never hold a similar position in college athletics again.
The post goes on to promote Perkins “impressive flair for management” and his “impressive flair for athletics and other sports.”
The next day on June 14 the site jmmama.net laid another journalistic blowjob on Perkins under the headline: ” How Lew Perkins Defeated NCAA Violations?”
“Lew Perkins is a name to reckon with some solid and intelligent management for the college sports teams. In a career nearly spanning 45 years, Perkins has done more for the American universities than any other individual.”
On August 21st a site by the name of liberationgames.com penned a piece on Perkins titled: “Lew Perkins: Helping the Team Achieves Great Success.”
“Lew Perkins is one of the enigmatic people in the athletic management field,” it begins. “He has an excellent management skill, especially in directing college sports teams. He has devoted more than 45 years of his life in coaching and managing several American universities.”
And check out how liberation games summarizes Perkins career:
“Lew Perkins is not only a sport’s genius. He is an athletic figure with an athletic body, mind, and soul. When he announced his early retirement, a lot of people were saddened of the news. A little incident has jeopardized the reputation of Lew Perkins. Despite the slight imperfections, Perkins’ legacy will forever be in the hearts of athletes.”
An athletic figure and body? Saddened by the news of his retirement? A little incident? Slight imperfections?
Talk about hyperbole!
Like the other stories, the author is unnamed and it was closed to comments.
An even more unlikely site – sw-watersports.com – posted a story August 21st titled simply, “All About Lew Perkins.”
“A lot of people who want to become an athletic director look up to Lew Perkins,” it reads. “His contributions to Kansas University are truly inevitable. It was during his management that Kansas University athletic department became very popular. Undoubtedly, he has the skills as well as the knowledge regarding the different sports. When Perkin announced his upcoming retirement, a lot of people were shocked. There are some incidences that affected his decision to retire. Although he has cleared his self about the issue, still he refused to take any athletic direction job. A lot of people were dismayed of his decision because they think that Lew Perkins is one of the best athletic directors. Even though Lew Perkins will not be actively directing athletic event, his contributions and legacy will be forever in the hearts of athletes.”
Where to begin on this one…
It was on Perkins watch KU athletics became “very popular”? People were shocked when he retired early? More likely they were shocked he wasn’t out-and-out fired.
Posted that same day underwoodsportsnutrition.com wrote that “Lew Perkins is one of the best and successful sports executive not only in the United States, but around the world. He has received several awards and recognitions because of his exemplary management and administrative skills.”
What all of the revisionist Perkins kiss-up stories have in common, besides putting poorly penned happy faces on what’s left of Perkins reputation as an athletics department head:
They all link to a very positive and very much official (if dated) Perkins resume on the official Kansas Athletics Department Web site. A resume that covers Perkins high points – but none of his high profile low points – while at KU.
Curiouser and Curiouser.
Then on what is ostensibly a Lew Perkins blog @ blogspot.com site are a handful of recent stories that appear to be written about rather than by Perkins. Stories like, “Lew Perkins and the Importance of Keeping in Line with Regulations” and “Lew Perkins on Mixing Academics and Athletics.”
So who exactly is behind all of these recent efforts to resurrect Perkins and clean up his resume remains to be learned, however something appears afoot.
As for Perkins current whereabouts, “He lives here in Lawrence,” says a reliable source. “I don’t think he’s doing much of anything. He’s probably paying somebody to rehabilitate his image. He’s very savvy.”
Understandably Perkins appears to be keeping a very low profile.
“Is he still here in Lawrence? I don’t know,” says Lawrence businessman John Kiefer. “And from my point of view, I don’t care.
“Almost everybody I talk to don’t know a thing about what happened but they all have opinions and the opinions are negative. (Perkins) took a lot of money from the rich people and put it in the field house and the football stadium. And he brought in a lot of people – he didn’t bring in Bill Self – but he brought in (KU womens basketball coach) Bonnie Henrickson but she really hasn’t accomplished much. Last season was her best year, but she’s had seven years and is very highly paid and people are critical of that. And in seven years Perkins didn’t bring in a single winning coach. So in terms of his hires, he wasn’t very successful.
“If you took a survey, I’d say 80 percent of the people here in Lawrence would have a negative opinion about him and wouldn’t even know about the good stuff he did.”
And while he currently eschews the local limelight, he was sighted on TV during KU’s run in the NCAA basketball tourney earlier this year and at the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City.
“He’s just not out there in Lawrence much but in certain social circles he is,” says the source. “With his neighbors and some of his cronies that gave him money (when he was at KU).
“And there are people who like what he did at the football field and at Allen Field House – those are all positive things. But in my view he became the tail wagging the dog at KU and the chancellor was powerless to do anything about it.”
Until that is Perkins regime went down in flames.
Perkins is said to have pissed off more than his fair share of KU fans and ticket holders with his points program which sources say cost the school millions of dollars in donations outside the athletics department.
The $64 million question: what’s Perkins plotting next?