No matter what comes of federal investigations or personnel changes or anything else relating to the tickets and blackmail issues swirling around Kansas Athletics Inc., both Athletics Director Lew Perkins and Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little will have some work to do repairing the damage left behind, the chairwoman of the Kansas Board of Regents says.
“You have to go out to every Rotary Club — to all the people of Kansas, with whatever method you choose,” said Jill Docking, who will finish her term on the regents later this month. “It’s going to take a full frontal assault on the part of Lew and the chancellor to address these issues, because of the anger that’s out there. It’s going to take more than a press conference, I do know that.
“It’s going to take a grass roots campaign in every community of the state, so that people can vent their frustration and anger, and so they can have their concerns addressed.”
Gray-Little’s portion of the road show will get an early start June 23 and June 24, when she’s expected to make a public presentation to the Kansas Board of Regents in Topeka about the ongoing tickets scandal within Kansas Athletics Inc., and Perkins’ own reports of being the victim of blackmail related to exercise equipment that’s now the subject of both KU and state reviews.
Docking, a KU graduate, said she considered Gray-Little to be in a “perfect position” to determine the employment fate of Perkins, and to steer the athletics department in the right direction following two weeks of embarrassing disclosures:
• Release of an internal investigation documenting the theft by employees of nearly 20,000 football and basketball tickets during the past five years, leading to documented losses of at least $1 million and possibly as high as $3 million. Federal law enforcement agencies also have been investigating ticket issues.
• Acknowledgment that Perkins had used rehabilitation equipment at home, equipment he didn’t pay for until after he’d filed a police report accusing a former employee of blackmailing him. Gray-Little said this week that Perkins had informed the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission about the matter, and Gray-Little expects an internal review to be finished within 10 working days.
While Docking hears complaints from friends and alumni about the problems, she rests assured that Gray-Little will deliberately — and dispassionately — decide precisely what to do, and when.
“I’m trying to shut out the noise and listen, factually, to what’s going on,” Docking said. “And that’s what she’s trying to do. That’s the only way to do it.
“The tone of everything is so shrill in the press and in the community at large that you need people who are calm, and can focus on the facts. I trust the chancellor will come up with a reasonable conclusion, or the correct conclusions.”
Kansas Attorney General Steve Six, meanwhile, said Thursday that he hoped that controversy swirling around Kansas Athletics would result in more transparency in operations.
“The challenge is you can’t operate like a private business when you have the University of Kansas name, the University of Kansas brand, and student-athletes as the people that are the main product you are producing,” Six said, following a campaign event in Topeka. “It has to be transparent.”
Six, a former judge and graduate of the KU law school, said his office was not involved in any of the ongoing investigations and that he had confidence that the incidents would be reviewed thoroughly by KU officials and the Board of Regents.
“If you are going to use the Kansas name, use some Kansas resources, the taxpayers are entitled to know how that is being run and what is going on,” Six said.
Docking said that while KU supporters and others had every right to be frustrated or worried or anything else regarding the issues, emotion should not be relied upon when it came to making decisions.
“I have clients with BP stock, so I have to listen to CNN,” said Docking, a broker for Wells Fargo Advisors in Wichita. “Talk about your clients going ballistic. They would say, ‘Let’s look at the revenue BP makes, and the company’s financials.’
“If I listened to emotion all the time, I wouldn’t have one client after March 2009. We, in business, have to sift through all this stuff. This is the chancellor’s job to do this. We’ll see how it all unfolds.”