With an independent review seeking answers regarding operations involving Kansas Athletics Inc.’s ticket office and Williams Fund, others are posing questions of their own.
Among them: Is the focus limited to the actions of a single employee, one already placed on administrative leave for undisclosed reasons? Or could the probe stretch into larger policies, programs and other systems of distributing tickets for KU athletics?
“It’s obviously disturbing, and if things were being done inappropriately they ought to be investigated and an audit is something they should do,” said Mike Maddox, who recently finished four years of service as chairman of KU Athletics Board.
This week, KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said that the university had asked “outside entities to conduct a thorough and exhaustive review,” including an audit of both offices.
Off campus, ticket brokers have been subpoenaed, and the Vice Chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents has indicated that a federal investigation is under way.
“If somebody makes money and doesn’t report it on their taxes, somebody at the federal level is going to get involved,” Sherrer said this week.
Rodney Jones, assistant athletics director for the Williams Fund, remains on administrative leave. Athletics Director Lew Perkins made that move earlier this month.
Jones came to KU in 1997 and worked his way up to being manager of the ticket office before being promoted several ago to lead the Williams Fund, the department’s donor organization with more than 4,200 members. Last year, the fund generated about $15 million in donations for athletics.
Al Bohl, KU athletics director from 2001 to 2003, said this week that he was unaware of any problems that might have surfaced within either the ticket office or Williams Fund during his tenure.
“When I was there, there was no knowledge of anybody there doing anything wrong,” said Bohl, who lives in St. Augustine, Fla. “I suspect they will do a thorough job of getting to the bottom of it.”
Williams Fund members receive access to football and basketball tickets, and receive seating priority based on their levels of giving as expressed through a points system, one established after Perkins’ arrival. Donors receive points based on the amounts and timing of their donations.
Maddox describes the points system as the “most equitable” way to distribute seats, and as an appropriate method for generating revenue. But he noted that the system has been a focus of frustration for some ticket holders who remain uncertain about the basis for their seat locations or limits on their access to tickets.
“The points system’s success or failure rides on the integrity of the system,” said Maddox, who played basketball at KU and was a member of the 1988 championship team. “It’s very important that the system has integrity.
“It works based on trust — that if (people) give donations, they’ll be in the right place. If it comes out that they’re not, there will be some repair work to do.”