Archive for Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ticket integrity

An investigative report released Wednesday raised about as many questions as it answered about KU’s ticket scandal.

May 27, 2010


Although none of the six people directly implicated in a Kansas University ticket scandal still work for Kansas Athletics Inc., this mess is far from over for KU and its athletic department.

The doubts that an investigative report released Wednesday cast on the entire ticketing system for KU football and men’s basketball games will be hard to overcome.

At Wednesday’s press conference, Athletic Director Lew Perkins tried to take the high road about the ticket investigation, saying, “Now that we know about it, we can correct it.” He said he was “very disappointed” at the situation, “but not discouraged.”

It will be interesting to see whether fans and supporters of the athletics department will take such a philosophical view.

The bottom line is significant. According to the internal investigation, five athletics department staff members and a paid consultant “subverted controls” on the department’s ticket system over the last five years to abscond with at least 17,609 men’s basketball tickets and 2,181 football tickets, along with KU parking passes and passes to the Arrowhead Club in Kansas City. The confirmed loss to the athletic association was $1.03 million, but auditors say that figure could grow to as much as $3 million when the investigation is complete.

Although the investigators, Perkins and Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little were all quick to say there had been no manipulation of the points system used to assign seats to Williams Fund donors, they also acknowledged that the ticket skimming had removed at least some seats from the pool that otherwise would have been available to those donors.

Restoring the trust of KU ticket buyers will be no easy task. Many donors already have questioned the integrity of KU’s money-driven points system that was supposed to bring new fairness to the allocation of season tickets. Those doubts are bound to increase. The fact that tickets, especially to men’s basketball games, are such a valuable commodity creates additional incentive for anyone who wants to subvert the system for personal gain.

Jack Focht, who represented the law firm that conducted the investigation, pointed out during the press conference that the athletic department employees implicated in this situation worked together in a way that fooled some of the nation’s best auditors and would have been hard for Perkins or others in his department to detect. Gray-Little also gave no indication at the press conference that she had lost confidence in Perkins’ ability to run the department and address the current situation. We hope that confidence is justified.

If they are lucky, KU and its athletic department now can start to put this mess behind them, but there are no guarantees. The internal investigation reports will be turned over the law enforcement agencies that will be able to subpoena records and demand testimony that Focht’s law firm couldn’t access. It will be interesting to see what additional information comes to light.

On Wednesday, Perkins said the ticket scandal caught him by surprise. Ticket sales and department revenue were up, he said, and things were going so well that he and his staff “maybe got a little complacent.”

Well, there’s certainly no room for complacency now. The spotlight shining on KU and Kansas Athletics is revealing some serious flaws that will take time to correct.


KEITHMILES05 8 years ago

There have been numerous messups at the KUAC and everytime Lew says "trust me, this is the last time" and then another incident occurs and the same words are uttered.

Enough is enough. Lew needs to step aside for the good of the university. If he doesn't then Gray-Little needs to dismiss him.

The problem with these KUAC people are none of them are KU alums but purely business people with money as the motive. They have no dedication whatsoever.

tomatogrower 8 years ago

And there are plenty of alumni out there who would love to have this job. These people were already making decent money. How many honest people were passed up for these jobs?

justforfun 8 years ago

sorry Lew you know you were involved in many ways. Just wait till the other side of the story hits print. OOOOOh boy

KU_cynic 8 years ago

If Lew wants to take responsibility, he should reimburse KU for the "lost revenue" out his his huge retention bonus earned last year. He obviously didn't deserve it, in hindsight, because they were his people working in his system.

Money talks and bs walks. Pay up if you want to apologize, Larcenous Lew.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

College sports have become nothing more than a business, and business in the US since Reagan has come to mean getting as much money as you can, however you can get it.

Lew has certainly operated under that maxim, so why wouldn't those working under him do the same?

Mary Sucha 8 years ago

If Allen is sold out for every game, the university should have a name for every seat. Maybe the journal world should request that information from the university.

sherlock 8 years ago

Perhaps Okla. should check out their ticket office too, since some of those guilty came from that office! Or maybe they have already? This will no doubt cause all University athletic offices to do a dbl check now! What about all those brokers too?

Wayne Seymour 8 years ago

With all the assistants and associates Mr. Perkins has in the athletic department, no wonder there is a is hard to believe that he did not know something about this

opobserver 8 years ago

Where did you get your numbers? The report detailed regular season tickets only,. The report didn't even touch the Final Four. Read the report on ESPN. Jones made 800,000 in one weekend. Jones had a company set up just for this purpose...I really doubt he would go to all that trouble for 30,000. "He lived beyond his means". Well, now we know how.

Uhjh 8 years ago

Let’s apply the three strikes rule for Big Lew: 1) Cronyism (special treatment and preference given to friends or colleagues and family); 2) The Mangino mess; 3) The ticket fiasco. So Lew be a good soldier and fall on your sword. We accepted letting family make some big bucks just because Lew wanted it. Cronyism has no place at KU and should be stopped by a superior authority like the Regions. Mangino was blindsided by Lew who was a previous supporter. The ticket mess was born out of a culture of looking the other way until you are caught. Couple this with a somewhat favorable investigation involving an alumni attorney who knows better than implicate you and one can only arrive at a term called, in Kansas, bull sh!t. Come on Lew it’s over you and the taint you placed on KU sports is fouler than any spray by a skunk. Just take your little circus show as far from the fair city of Lawrence as possible and slither with the rest of the reptiles.

opobserver 8 years ago

tomatogrower...Amen. Jones made 135,000 plus 10,000 in bonus and had a car to drive...this was STILL not enough. I know plenty of KU grads who have the ability to do that job and would feel pretty fortunate to make that kind of money. Some people are just naturally thieves.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

According to Freeman more than KU employees were raking in the dough. How about those Lawrence builders....

Freeman was likely quite popular as were his partners in crime. Now all are hanging them out to dry ... hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

It would be hard to believe that purchasers of these tickets were not so dumb about what was going on.

camper 8 years ago

Bullies. I'm sure there were a lot of honest people working in the ticket office, including part-time people who are not making big bucks, who may have suspected. These thieves are similar to bullies because they force honest normal people into a should I report this? Will I lose my job? etc.

Safety and protection for whisltle blowers is a key internal control. If not already implemented, there should be a 800# number where one can report this activity with assurances as safety.....for any organization. Because sometimes lieterally safety is the main concern especially if some of the characters are shady.

camper 8 years ago

Corruption. Sorry for the reference here. But if you have a moment on this fine day, go to Wikipedia and type in "Political Corruption". It pretty much defines the gravity of all types of corruption and is a good reference. Though it is about political corruption, these tenents cross over to the private sector, and lets face it, large institutions are governments really.

But I will say, the ticket office is a component of a larger institution. I don't believe that it reflects the overall mission of KU athletics. Corruption has been around forever. This is not the first nor the last folks. Like cockroaches, they don't go away completely. You got to keep up the battle and get rid of em when they appear. You can implement internal controls, but it has to be a continual process. Crooks will always find a way.

Facing the facts, one will always need to trust, because there is no way you can see everything that is going on. Without trust, you might have better control, but you are an even worse organization. The most disturbing thing is that these crooks let a lot of people down.

What we have here is basically some low level managers signing checks over to themselves. Even the best controller or auditor has a chance of detection, but it is also more likely to be missed. There are also many instances where something looks wrong, but after further research, is completely square.

Lew Perkins is like the rest of us here because the sickening thing about corruption is that it harms innocent, honest, and well meaning people. Lew is a nice man, and I know this because I have passed by him on occasion. This is just my read, but I will feel bad for him, and KU if people start trying to find scapegoats.

kanshawk 8 years ago

Ban Roger, freeman and the employees envolved from all ku athletic events

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