I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about athletic directors around college athletics. So naturally I don’t have a long list of possible candidates or guys that I’d like to replace Zenger. But what I do know is that I’ve heard great things about Colorado State AD Joe Parker.
I’m not sure if he’s actually a candidate at this point or if KU has even contacted him, but what I can say is his resume is rather impressive.
Joe was hired on at CSU as the new AD in March of 2015. Before that he was at Texas Tech as deputy athletics director, then he served as senior associate AD for multiple schools such as the University of Michigan, University of Oklahoma, Washington State University, and the University of Texas.
A few things he’s done that should be an interest to KU fans is he was the driving force behind the Colorado State new stadium, which this past season had an average of 32,062 in attendance each game, and also hired Mike Bobo who’s had a .538 winning percentage in his three years as head football coach. Both of these categories would be a major upgrade to Kansas as they have a $350 million stadium renovation that’s come to a halt due to the programs lack of success and current coach Beaty’s winning percentage is currently sitting at .083.
It’s also to note that the program had a few solid years before Mike Bobo got to CSU mainly because of Jim McElwain, but Bobo has maintained that consistency. Before McElwain and Bobo were hired though CSU had only two bowl game appearances in the last eight years. During McElwain and Bobo’s tenure they’ve now went to five straight, with three of those coming in all of Bobo’s three years as Head Coach.
Another thing that’s intriguing is Joe Parker’s salary is easily within range of what KU would like to pay an AD. He currently makes $400,000 a year after a contract extension of five years back in December of 2017. Obviously the contract extension may pose a bit of a problem for Kansas to overcome but if they feel he’s the right guy it could happen. Currently as it sits it appears his buyout would be at $1 million if he leaves before 2019.
Why would Kansas pay for a buyout if they just paid Zenger $1.4 million to leave? Well, this seems hard to believe but if Kansas paid Joe Parker an annual salary of $500,000 ($100,000 raise from what he makes now) a year for five years and paid the $1 million buyout they would be paying $1.35 million less than they would have paid Zenger for five years on his $700,000 salary. It’s not likely Kansas would want to pay a large buyout after paying to fire Zenger, but let’s be honest, most guys they’re targeting will probably have a buyout of some sort. It’s just how the game works and it’s why contracts are made.
Either way, whether KU is even considering Joe Parker or not, if it were me I’d stop my search right at his door step. Would Parker even be interested? Who knows? But he has worked in the Big 12 before and the football program can’t get much worse. Also he’d have the opportunity to put his stamp on a $350 million stadium renovation and hire his own football coach, which he’s successfully done at CSU.
Here’s to hoping in the coming days Kansas fans hear, “introducing the new University of Kansas AD, Joe Parker.”