The search for the next Kansas athletic director is moving at a quicker pace than was originally expected, but there have not been any finalists identified at this point, search committee chairman Ray Evans told The Eagle on Monday afternoon.
"We're not there yet," said Evans, a KU football player from 1979-80 who is managing partner of Pegasus Capital Management in Overland Park. "We haven't put any finalists in front of the chancellor yet. In the not-too-distant future, we'll make recommendations, and the chancellor will have a variety of different discussions. The chancellor will make the selection."
When former KU athletic director Lew Perkins announced his retirement a year ahead of schedule in early September, KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said the search for his replacement would be completed by the end of the spring semester.
Evans was asked when he expected the search committee to make its recommendations to Gray-Little and responded, "I would say we'll get a whole bunch done here in the next four weeks."
Evans said the search committee has had face-to-face interviews with several candidates, some of which occurred on KU's campus.
One logical candidate for KU would be Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart, a Mission native who graduated from Shawnee Mission North High in 1977 and attended college at Ottawa University. At Kentucky the last nine years, Barnhart also has experience running a department that has a historically prominent basketball program as its lifeblood.
Evans would not identify who had interviewed for the job. But a source with knowledge of KU's search told The Eagle that Barnhart is not likely to land the Kansas job.
"It'd be tough for him to get in there," the source said. "I wouldn't spend a lot of time on Mitch Barnhart."
The source also said that the search committee's current targets are, like Barnhart, sitting athletic directors with impressive resumes.
Earlier this month, Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby told The Star he was asked if he was interested in the KU job. But Bowlsby said he never seriously considered it.
Evans said the candidates he has spoken with have all welcomed the challenge of building Kansas football into a better revenue producer.
Candidates have also seen the benefits of the athletic department functioning as a non-profit corporation, Kansas Athletics Inc.
"We're our own business," Evans said. "The thought is, some of these other schools are beholden to the university. They have to turn money back over to the university. If KU makes a million dollars this year, they can bank that and apply it to whatever capital project they want to have going. There's a real appeal to some of these guys... 'If I run my business well, I can keep that money for myself.'"