From 2004 until 2007, I was a member of the Chancellor’s Athletics Advisory Committee at KU; from 2004 until 2006, I concurrently served as chair of the University Senate Athletics Committee. I vividly remember the first meeting of the advisory committee that I attended.
Near the end of the event, the committee chair, Mike Maddox, and the athletics director, Lew Perkins, gave a vigorous tongue-lashing to the KU faculty. Some faculty members, they asserted, were reselling basketball tickets on eBay and making profits. A member of the Kansas Athletics staff had, it seems, tracked KU tickets being offered for sale online and found several from the faculty seating area. Maddox and Perkins scolded the faculty angrily for not following the recommended procedures (donating the tickets back to KU Athletics for resale) and threatened stern action against faculty ticket-holders who tried to resell their seats.
Another member of the committee (a professor from the KU Med Center) and I took issue with such attacks on the integrity of the faculty. Ticket scalping, we pointed out, is legal in Kansas; faculty had purchased their basketball tickets legitimately and, in the free-market economy in which we live, were perfectly entitled to resell them.
Moreover, faculty members were certainly not the only folks putting their tickets up on eBay and we questioned why KU Athletics was singling out (and threatening) KU faculty. I also asked why so much staff time and energy was being dedicated to tracking and documenting a small number of online ticket sales by faculty. I can still recall how Maddox, Perkins and other members of the athletics staff glared at me after I (a lowly history professor!) dared stand up to them.
It is now becoming apparent just how corrupt the ticket operations at KU Athletics have long been. One has to wonder why the organization was intent on hounding a handful of faculty members reselling a few dozen tickets (at no financial loss to KU) when millions of dollars for prime seats were slipping out the back door. Could an organization — and an athletic director — that fanatical about monitoring faculty ticket usage really have been so blind to illicit activities on a grand scale, involving numerous staff and key boosters?
I think that the KU faculty deserve an apology from the athletic director and KU Athletics. And I think we all deserve a more thorough, truly independent investigation into how high the rot went in the current scandals swirling through the athletic department.
— William Tsutsui, associate dean for international studies in KU’s college of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is leaving KU to become dean of the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.