University of Kansas

KU names Sheahon Zenger new athletic director

LAWRENCE — Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little announced Sunday that Kansas native and KU graduate Sheahon (pronounced SHAY-un) Zenger will be KU's next athletic director.

Zenger has been the athletic director at Illinois State since 2005. A native of Hays, he got his undergraduate degree from Kansas State and received his doctorate in educational policy and leadership from KU in 1996.

"My earliest memories are in Lawrence, Kansas, watching KU football and basketball games," Zenger said in a statement. "Sometimes in life things come full circle. The opportunity to stand side-by-side with KU's student-athletes, coaches, administrators, donors and fans gives me great joy."

Zenger recently led Illinois State to its second Missouri Valley Conference All-Sports Trophy in three years. The Redbirds led the league with seven conference titles during the 2009-10 season and 17 teams advanced to postseason play during his tenure. Zenger hired former KU basketball assistant coach Tim Jankovich to be Illinois State's head coach in 2007.

"With his experience and leadership skills, Sheahon Zenger is the best choice to lead Kansas Athletics into the future," Gray-Little said. "He is exactly who we need as athletic director, working to ensure that every Jayhawk team succeeds on the field and in the classroom."

Zenger coached football at Drake, Kansas State, South Florida and Wyoming. Before becoming athletic director at Illinois State, he held a number of top fundraising positions in the K-State athletic department.

Zenger's hiring comes less than three weeks after Kansas failed to land its top choice, Tulsa athletic director Bubba Cunningham. A source said that KU was negotiating a contract with Cunningham, but on Dec. 16, Cunningham signed an extension with Tulsa.