Lawrence, Kansas — Lew Perkins, a former Kansas AD and lifelong college administrator, passes away.
Lew Perkins, a longtime college official who played basketball at Iowa before holding the position of athletic director at a number of colleges and playing a significant role in the NCAA, passed away on Tuesday. He was 78 at the time of his passing.
Perkins’ family received word of his passing through a statement released by Kansas, where he was athletic director from June 2003 to September 2011, overseeing a national championship for men’s basketball during that time.
“Lew made an indelible impact on Kansas Athletics and served his role at KU with passion and vigor on a daily basis,” Jayhawks athletic director Travis Goff said. “We will forever be grateful for his dedication to this university and athletic department. We are thinking of Lew’s amazing family during this time and sending our deepest thoughts and sympathies.”
“Lew did a lot of good things in his time here at KU,” Self said. “He was a big contributor in us changing the mindset of the athletic department and also competing for championships on a more consistent level. … The one thing I will remember most about Lew was he always put the student-athletes first, and the student-athletes that got to know him well, all loved him.”
Despite having Parkinson’s disease, there was no explanation given for Perkins’ death.
American athletic director, Lew Perkins
Lew Perkins was a former athletic director in the United States. He is well-known for his tenure at the University of Connecticut and the University of Kansas.
Lew Perkins served as the athletic director at the University of Connecticut from 1990 to 2003. During his time at UConn, he played a significant role in elevating the university’s athletic programs, particularly the men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Both basketball programs achieved considerable success under his leadership, with the men’s team winning the NCAA Championship in 1999 and the women’s team becoming a dominant force in women’s college basketball.
After leaving UConn, Lew Perkins became the athletic director at the University of Kansas in 2003. During his time at KU, he oversaw various improvements and achievements in the university’s athletic department. One of the notable accomplishments was the success of the Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team. They won the NCAA Championship in 2008 under the guidance of head coach Bill Self.
Inside the professional life of Lew Perkins
Perkins was selected in 2005 to serve on the board of trustees for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He also served on the committees for the NCAA bowl certification and the cabinet for NCAA championships and competitions.
Before transferring to the Hawkeyes, Perkins was a Massachusetts native. He played for Ralph Miller, a basketball legend, and the Hawkeyes from 1965 to 1967. He subsequently started a career in administration at the University of South Carolina-Aiken, where he served as the basketball coach and athletic director when the institution transitioned from a junior college to a four-year institution.
In 2005, Perkins came back to USC-Aiken to earn an honorary doctorate.
After working as Penn’s associate athletic director, he was hired by Wichita State, which was then on two years on probation, to be their athletic director. Perkins was hailed for appointing great basketball coach Eddie Fogler, but he also made the contentious choice to discontinue the school’s football team as a cost-saving measure.
In 1987, Perkins left for Maryland, where the loss of star basketball player Len Bias had devastated the men’s basketball team. Perkins hired Gary Williams, the basketball coach who would subsequently lead the Terps to a national championship, during his brief stint.
For the following 13 years, Perkins served as the athletic director at Connecticut, where the men’s and women’s basketball teams both won championships as well as four national championships for the women’s basketball team. Along with that, he had a significant role in the growth of the Huskies’ football team, which entered Division I in 2000 and the Big East a year after his departure.
Perkins is best recognized for his time at Kansas
As the Jayhawks’ athletic director, Mark Mangino led their long-struggling football team to the 2008 Orange Bowl, and Bill Self won the men’s basketball national championship a few months later. The schools’ sports budget increased, and Memorial Stadium, the Booth Family Hall of Athletics, and other facilities received considerable enhancements.
When the university stated in March 2010 that it was looking into the athletics ticketing office internally, Perkins’ tenure came to an end in controversy. Federal charges were filed against five workers and one consultant after a separate FBI and IRS investigation revealed that they had allegedly stolen more than $2 million in tickets to be illegally resold.
Perkins left the Jayhawks in September 2010 after making his retirement announcement some months later.
Leaving behind his wife and Daughter
Lew Perkins was survived by his Gwen Flaum, and the couple shared two daughters Holly Perkins Halligan and Amy Perkins Macneill. Amy is married to her husband Brandon Macneill and blessed with two daughters Caroline and Alexandra Macneill.
Lew Perkins with his granddaughter Caroline
So at the time of his death, Lew is a Beloved husband, father of two Daughters, and Grandfather of two granddaughters.
Lew’s Wife, Gwen also graduated from Iowa with a bachelor’s degree and went on to the University of South Carolina for her master’s in education.