KU chancellor announces AD search committee

Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little says she wants a new athletic director in place by the end of the spring semester. After Gray-Little appointed a six-person search committee on Friday, the process of replacing Lew Perkins can officially begin.

The committee, which will conduct a nationwide search, will have its first meeting within the next few weeks, Gray-Little said. The group will be chaired by Ray Evans, the managing partner of Pegasus Capital Management in Overland Park and one of three committee members that are from outside the university or Kansas Athletics.

Evans will be joined by Kenneth Audus, dean of the KU School of Pharmacy; KU baseball coach Ritch Price; Linda Ellis Sims, an account executive with ExxonMobile Corporation; Debbie Van Saun, KU associate athletics director/senior women's administrator; and Thomas Ward, president and CEO of Russell Stover Candies in Kansas City.

Perkins retired last week, a year earlier than his originally agreed upon retirement date of Sept. 4, 2011. KU interim athletic director Sean Lester said Perkins' retirement was a "mutual decision" between Perkins and Gray-Little.

The university is now looking to the future, and it will be up to the search committee to ask and answer some tough questions on the way to finding the right fit. What will their priorities be? Will they prefer to bring in candidates with KU or Midwestern ties? Will they hire someone who has already proven they can run a BCS-level athletic department? At this point, it's too early to tell.

Gray-Little put together a committee that isn't lacking in experience:

* Evans, who earned two business degrees from KU and played football for the Jayhawks from 1978-80, is a KU Endowment trustee and a member of the KU Alumni Association National Board of Directors.

* Audus, who earned a doctorate in pharmacology from KU in 1984, has taught at the school since 1986 and became dean in 2004.

* Price, who took over the KU baseball program in 2002, has been a college coach for more than 30 years.

* Sims, who earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from KU in 1979, was a member of the KU swim team in 1975-76. She is also a KU Endowment trustee.

* Van Saun, who earned a bachelor's in education and master's in public administration from KU, served in numerous roles for the city of Lawrence for 28 years before joining Kansas Athletics' staff in 2007.

* Ward, who earned a bachelor's at KU in 1980, is a major benefactor to KU and Kansas Athletics. He and his family donated to help build the Ward Family Scholarship Suites at Memorial Stadium.