Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway announced in a press conference on September 24 that the university will disclose all documents related to the compensation of Athletic Director Lew Perkins.
The university’s decision came on the heels Douglas County District Judge Jack Murphy’s recent ruling that the state’s Open Records Act requires disclosure of the documents in question.
“The public has a valid right to discover how a public institution spends its money,” said Murphy. “Disclosure promotes accountability and deters official misconduct.”
Murphy’s ruling represented a victory for The Lawrence Journal-World, cable television station 6News, Kansas Press Association and The Associated Press, which all sued to get access to the documents. While the court gave the University until Oct. 18 to appeal, Hemenway said the university would “share all of the information.”
Even so, he continued to maintain that the rest of the documents should have been exempted.
“In 1993, the Regents universities received a Kansas attorney general’s advisory letter which said that employment contracts are not subject to release under the Open Records Act, and contingent compensation contracts are not subject to release either,” said Hemenway.
“When Lew Perkins was hired, we entered into two contracts, one pertaining to his annual compensation, and another referring to contingent compensation he would receive if he stayed as Athletic Director until 2009.”
The university shared some info prior to the suit, such as Perkins’ $420,000 a year salary, two automobiles, family memberships to two country clubs and two season tickets to University of Kansas men’s basketball games.
Hemenway was also very careful to shield Perkins from any public criticism.
“Lew has wanted to do this from the first, but we asked him not to because we felt the principle was important — public employees should have some right to privacy.
“I would just emphasize two points. First, only $165,000 of state money is included in Lew Perkins compensation. Second, Lew Perkins is one of the best ADs in the United States. He is well compensated, as you would expect him to be.”