A former sports medicine director at Kansas University claims that athletic director Lew Perkins helped two business owners get premium tickets to men’s basketball games after they gave him $35,000 worth of exercise equipment to use in his home, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported Monday.
But the owners of Medical Outfitters said the equipment was worth closer to $15,000 and they expected nothing in return for lending Perkins the equipment to help with his physical therapy.
Months of correspondence between the former director, William Dent, and Perkins’ attorney — much of which was forwarded by Dent to the Capital-Journal — indicates that Perkins was willing to pay Dent to keep information about the equipment private. Perkins eventually filed a police report, claiming he was being blackmailed.
Lawrence attorney Stephen McAllister told the newspaper on Sunday that Perkins believed that Dent, who helped install the equipment in Perkins’ basement in 2005, owned the equipment.
In an April 13 e-mail to Dent, McAllister said Perkins was willing to purchase the items as long as Dent didn’t share information about the “private matter” with anyone, including the media, the newspaper reported.
On April 15, Dent wrote to McAllister that he could no longer be patient. Dent outlined allegations about the equipment, the high school eligibility of former and current Kansas basketball players and disregarding university drug policy for athletes, the Capital-Journal reported.
The next day, Perkins filed a police report saying he was being blackmailed. Lawrence police wouldn’t confirm the name of the suspect to the newspaper, but said they were investigating a former employee with sports rehabilitation and that the matter involved equipment on loan to Perkins.
McAllister didn’t immediately return calls from The Associated Press on Monday. A university spokesman told the AP that Perkins would not comment on the matter. A phone number for Dent, who has since filed for bankruptcy and lives in California, couldn’t be found.
Nobody at the police department was available to answer questions from the AP on Monday.
Dent, who started forwarding e-mails regarding the equipment to the Capital-Journal more than a year ago, told the newspaper that he had been contacted by police and expected to be charged.
Mark Glass, a co-owner of Medical Outfitters, which has gone out of business, said he gave Perkins the equipment to help with Perkins’ physical therapy.
Dent told the Capital-Journal that because of the equipment donation, Glass and co-owner Patrick Carpenter were able to purchase premium seats to men’s basketball games that they normally would not have had access to because the men were only $5,000-a-year donors to Kansas Athletics.
Dent resigned from the university in 2007, after he was charged with aggravated assault and making threats. He was never convicted and entered a two-year diversion program that ended in January.
“We put equipment into Lew’s house as a loan and requested not to have anything done for us,” Glass told the Journal-World Monday night. “We had made our contribution to the Williams Fund, showed up on the assigned day for Select-A-Seat, waited in line, and picked out our four seats.”
Glass said the seats were better than the previous two years, but not by a great deal. Asked by the Journal-World if the seats were in line with his Williams Fund contribution level, Glass said, “I’ve got to assume they were.”
Glass said his company went bankrupt and the equipment slipped his mind. Asked if he thought Perkins had done anything wrong, Glass told the Journal-World, “No. I don’t see how either of us did anything wrong.”
The ownership of the equipment remains in question. Dent said he had no use for it. Although he initially asked for $35,000 for the equipment, he told the newspaper he would accept moving and storage costs, which are about $400 per month.
The blackmail allegations came shortly after six university employees were accused in a ticket-scalping scheme that involved selling at least $1 million in basketball and football tickets to brokers.
Federal investigators are looking into allegations of wrongdoing in the athletics department and the school’s athletics fundraising arm, the Williams Educational Fund.