Kansas fires athletic director Sheahon Zenger after failing to show 'progress in key areas'

Bill Self will be getting a new boss.

Kansas chancellor Doug Girod announced Monday that Sheahon Zenger, who was hired as Kansas athletic director in 2011, has been fired "effective immediately."

"Sheahon has been a loyal Jayhawk, and our athletics department has improved in many areas under his leadership," Girod wrote in an email to KU faculty and staff. "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."

KU deputy athletic director Sean Lester has been named interim director of athletics. There is no timeline on a permanent replacement for Zenger. 

The basketball program, of course, thrived under Zenger as it did under previous ADs. Under Self, Kansas has finished atop the Big 12 regular season standing an astonishing/record-setting 14 consecutive seasons. 

But the football program has continued to be in the basement of the Big 12. Zenger hired Charlie Weis and current KU coach David Beaty. Under those two coaches, and interim Clint Bowen, Kansas football accrued a 10-62 record. Girod said that Beaty will remain coach of the football program. 

Kansas basketball is coming off a season filled with intrigue, as the Jayhawks made their third Final Four under Self but also did so despite losing prized former recruit Billy Preston, who never played a game for the Jayhawks after the financial situation surrounding a car he was driving was questioned

Kansas was also recently named in a superseding indictment from the FBI, that report pertaining to the government's investigation of bribery and fraud in college basketball recruiting. The FBI listed the school as a potential victim, not a perpetrator, in the case. No Kansas coaches were named in the indictment. The status of KU big man Silvio De Sousa, the player widely believed to be referenced in the superseding indictment, remains unknown. 

"Since becoming chancellor, I have spent countless hours with higher education peers and Jayhawks to hear their perspective on KU," Girod wrote. "A common thread in these conversations is that, as a major public university with national aspirations, we must continue to strive for excellence in all areas — including athletics. As I have said many times, a successful athletics department is inextricably linked to our broader mission as a flagship research university."

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his ninth season reporting on college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories