Archive for Friday, May 28, 2010

Kansas Athletics pledges to go ‘above and beyond’ to restore confidence of Jayhawk community

May 28, 2010

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KU ticket investigation press conference

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little begins the conference, and Jack Focht of Foulston Siefkin discusses the report made of their investigation.

Related document

Supporting exhibits for KU's investigation ( .PDF )

Kansas Athletics Inc. officials plan to go “above and beyond” the recommended fixes for their broken ticket-distribution system, one that permitted the documented diversion of nearly 20,000 football and basketball tickets for the personal gain of five former employees and a paid consultant.

Whether the repairs will be enough remains to be seen.

“It will be a system that’s much improved and harder to defeat,” said Dana Anderson, a major booster who has donated more than $10 million to Kansas Athletics and has pledged nearly $10 million more for the future. “But I’m not a security person, and not an accountant.

“If people want to do bad things, it’s hard to eliminate it completely.”

Athletics officials are counting on the changes — ranging from bolstering internal controls to establishing a hotline for whistleblowers — to do more than improve the chances of stopping thefts, fraud, embezzlement and other problems in future weeks, months and years.

They’re also promising to look for other opportunities for change, both in the coming weeks and well into the future.

“This process will be an ongoing process to vigilantly look at everything we do and whether it can be done better,” said Jim Marchiony, an associate athletics director. “I think we’re going to — I know we’re going to — do everything we can to be sure that every donor can have complete confidence in what we’re doing.”

Such confidence has not been restored in everyone, at least not yet.

Independence sought

David Reynolds, a retired Lawrence homebuilder and longtime member of the Williams Fund, said he had reviewed both the results of Kansas University’s internal investigation and the recommendations for improvements that Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and Athletics Director Lew Perkins have agreed to implement.

“Maybe some of it might help,” Reynolds said this week, “but not in the big picture.”

His main issue is with Kansas Athletics’ plans for hiring a full-time forensic auditor, someone charged with ensuring, in KU’s words, “financial integrity in areas including, but not limited to, donations, tickets and travel.”

The forensic auditor will be hired by and work for Kansas Athletics — and that’s where the problem lies, Reynolds said.

Forensic auditors need to be independent, or else their findings can be considered suspect, he said. The latest forensic audit — itself independent, because it was conducted for Gray-Little — uncovered and documented the five years’ worth of ticket diversions.

The audit itself uncovered problems long suspected by some employees, but never acted upon nor detected by previous reviews.

“The buddy system broke down,” Reynolds said, in part because the independent auditors — people coming in from outside Kansas Athletics — could take an independent look without worrying about harming their friends or their superiors.

“I’m not trying to be negative, but if we’re really trying to clean the place up, let’s clean the place up. Let’s get some real independence in there. There should have independent audits, reported directly to the chancellor or the Board of Regents.”

The forensic auditor’s job description is not yet written, but the expectations already are forming within Kansas Athletics.

“This person is going to have authority to look into every aspect of athletics to try to ensure that we do not have similar problems in the future,” Marchiony said.

Hotline in place

Gray-Little and Perkins also have said that a “hotline” for whistleblowers would be established that is independent of Kansas Athletics, and instead located within KU’s Office of Internal Audit.

Such a phone line already exists: 785-864-0042, which rings into the Office of Internal Audit. The line is answered by a person when the office is open, which is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays; after hours, calls go to voicemail.

Lynn Bretz, a KU spokeswoman, said that the university would be working as early as next week to increase campuswide knowledge of the hotline and its ability to handle information about fraud, misuse of funds, waste and other problems. There’s talk of creating a separate line for reporting fraud.

“We’ve got some fine-tuning to do here,” Bretz said. “We want to make our fraud hotline crystal clear and available to everyone, with no way you cannot find it. We will educate the campus, and encourage people to use it.”

The department already provided more information to donors last week, as they chose where they would be sitting for the upcoming football season. Other changes also are in the works, including the bolstering internal controls on the handling and distribution of tickets.

“We are in the process of discussing all these enhancements and will implement them as soon as possible,” Marchiony said.

Comments

tophawk87 5 years, 2 months ago

Lew Perkins needs to step down or be fired. He has zero credibility. "We'll do better next time, we won't misplace hundreds of thousands of dollars next time!" ha ha

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

Actions speak louder than words.

This athletic thing has obviously become so corrupt not only at KU but in Lawrence special interest politics as well.

PLAY,USD 497,Clinton Lake Regional Park = probably $60 million - $75 million. Taxpayers will never ever recoup this kind of reckless spending!

6thstreet 5 years, 2 months ago

LJW --- YOU HAVE A SPORTS SECTION ---- 90% of your front page news is sports related, lets focus on actual important news.

Jonathan Kealing 5 years, 2 months ago

We put on our online front page what people want to read. Right now, this is the story getting the most traffic.

6thstreet 5 years, 2 months ago

why dont you do some real reporting and figure out where some of our so called high school athlete live???? My guess is they dont live in Lawrene

yankeevet 5 years, 2 months ago

This is big news; and does need to be on the front page........good job LJW

opobserver 5 years, 2 months ago

Hey 6th Street. This is news. Big news. When they haul these thieves off in handcuffs, should that be buried in the sports section, as well? I think not.

6thstreet 5 years, 2 months ago

yes it should, dont get me wrong I feel bad for people dying on I 70. I

Linda Aikins 5 years, 2 months ago

Right now the activity at the ticket office IS the news. It's not necessarily sports.

dontcallmedan 5 years, 2 months ago

A Lewie Lewie Oh no, said you gotta go- Yeah yeah Yeah yeah..........

lllwll 5 years, 2 months ago

Beat it to death...The people in charge controll it.. U Conn now has a problem.

Damn people...Your tax dollars are still being misused.

This is higher education.

dinglesmith 5 years, 2 months ago

There are no tax dollars going into KUAC.

It is certainly not higher education. It is for-profit professional athletics.

kans562001 5 years, 2 months ago

An outrageous episode. Quite honestly, I would not mind if KU took the radical step -- which of course they won't -- of following the path which the University of Chicago took about 70 years ago of exiting its participation in the big time collegiate sports scene and becoming known as a rigorous scholastic oriented institution. Institutions such as U. of Chicago, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, etc., known more for scholastic excellence than churning-out future NBA & NFL players, get along quite nicely by following this policy. The first step in this direction would be to limit the pay of athletic coaches to no more than what a senior level tenured professor earns.

Linda Aikins 5 years, 2 months ago

Sorry -I'd miss the sports. Can't they have both? You do realize that a few of the kids in athletics will go on to become professionals and make more money than all of us? I count their four years (or three or two or one) as life education. The rest could be coaches or trainers or have some role in professional sports somewhere. Those are legitimate careers. Without sports, I would surmise that some of them would not attend college at all. It at least gives them a chance.

notobsessed 5 years, 2 months ago

In my experience, most people connected with KU basketball think they are the privileged few and because of their extra special positions, they think they can do no wrong. Oh, change that to past tense.

Martha Oldham 5 years, 2 months ago

It is time for Lew to go. There are things more important than money like tradition and loyalty. These traits have not been important to Kansas Athletics for a long time. A change is needed.

Homey 5 years, 2 months ago

I agree with the sentiment that Mr. Perkins must go. The tone at the top sets the expectations below. After reading the report and listening to the press conference it is clear that KU needs a new AD. Chancellor, please restore integrity at the athletic department and make a change.

repaste 5 years, 2 months ago

hey ding, the athletic dept. get several million from university, a big chunk of student fees(tuition), infrastructure costs, many tax dollars. lew is a state employee, as are bill and turner. one could argue that tax breaks for wealthy donors come strait out of tax rolls.

killjoy 5 years, 2 months ago

If the chancellor can't get Lew to resign, she isn't up to the job. Embarrassment after embarrassment from him; this has to end.

opkujayhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

Maybe they could reinstate the staff/faculty discount for tickets they took away last year?? It seems to me if your going to let thousands of dollars seep through the cracks, a little more to help out the staff and faculty who keep the University going, wouldn't seem like such an "inconvenience" to the bottom, line......

LJD230 5 years, 2 months ago

To those who are so quick to sacrifice the best AD in the United States, get off your self-righteous high horses. Take a gander at this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/29/sports/ncaabasketball/29recruit.html?adxnnl=1&hpw=&adxnnlx=1275145257-aHoPHF49hPEw5TKGkF6kUg

somebodynew 5 years, 2 months ago

On a side note - the CapJournal had an article today by Ric Anderson (former LJW reporter) commenting on the fact that when he was in Lawrence there were 6 Assistant ADs. NOW, there are 24 !!!! (I think most of them related to Lew.) Why exactly did not ONE of them catch this???? I have to think that the high dollar donors who didn't get the best seats had to complain to Somebody and maybe not just in the ticket office???

But that could also explain why Lew didn't know about it. Way too many layers for information to be filtered through.

opobserver 5 years, 2 months ago

Hey folks....Read the ESPN story, Jones made 800,000 at the final four, BEFORE Lew even came to KU. This is not about Lew. This is not about KU. This is about six dishonest people who should pay for their crime in both restitution, and time in federal prison,.

John McCoy 5 years, 2 months ago

Let's all overreact and fire the one man who brought KU athletics back from total mediocrity. Lew's mistake was hiring someone from OU, the home of thieves and cheats.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 2 months ago

Panhandle, I object your vicious reference to the University of Oklahoma. Mangino did a great job there and they won a national championship in football .(for whatever that means) I have no idea what went wrong for him at KU, but given KU's past performance in football, I guess one should not be too surprised. I am waiting to see how the new coach fares under this regime, if indeed Perkins survives this national scam.

anon1958 5 years, 2 months ago

LJD230 (anonymous) says…

"To those who are so quick to sacrifice the best AD in the United States, get off your self-righteous high horses. Take a gander at this:"

Well if the best AD fails in such an epic manner that he cant keep track of millions of dollars of tickets, that just means the other ADs really suck, not that Lew is any good.

You moronic Lew apologists just need to wake up to the fact that Perkins came into an operation that was run like a mom and pop store but had huge untapped resources. Lew did not do anything that required creativity or brains. He came into an undefended orchard and grabbed all the low hanging fruit. Seriously, I know that spectator sports are not the last refuge for philosophers, but seriously, you people that think Lew is some kind of genius are about as smart as the Tea Party rank and file, perceptive as swift boaters for the truth and have all the analytical prowess of the birther movement.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 2 months ago

This has hit the national news, I just saw it on CNN

Yeah, right on baby. Lew gotta go.

Any chief executive who could not see thievery right under his nose is simply incompetant. The AD has made a crusade of trying to louse up things and screw the loyal fans with his realignment of the season tickets and moving important games to Arrowhead so they could rake in more money for the KC Chiefs (an alleged "pro-football" organization located in an adjacent community) . All the while his worker ants were just flat stealing from the University and getting away with it. This is not rocket science, this AD simply failed to align his priorities to keep his operations legal and above reproach, and this he has completely failed to do.

The University needs to get this situation fixed by removing all the elements that contributed to this now-national scam and start over with more competant and reliable personnel.

Robert Rauktis 5 years, 2 months ago

Right on. Lew cashed in all good will and lucked out in two coach's success who he did NOT hire. This is astute business?

I'll take the job for $200,000 and get rid of his family at the same time. Without the bloated overhead of too many son-in-law vice-presidents, I'd bet KU even does better.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 2 months ago

When will Dana Anderson get tired of being the go-to "I have full confidence..." quote guy? The university drags him out any time they need the face of a big donor. This, I think, is the best quote in this story:

“It will be a system that’s much improved and harder to defeat...But I’m not a security person, and not an accountant.

Basically, Dana is saying he has no idea what he is talking about and has no business being quoted. Here's an idea, LJW: why not find some independent security people or independent auditors and ask them questions about the potential for mismanagement of the ticketing system? While you are at it, why not file a KORA for the last six months of emails to and from certain staff members? You know... reporting.

camper 5 years, 2 months ago

If the Sopranos were still running, I could see this in an episode. This could be one of the more kinder gentler activity nowdays like parking meter theft, pin ball, etc. In short, there could be a reason why this took 5 years to surface. Cement shoes anyone.

camper 5 years, 2 months ago

After the tickets are gone, they were sold, the money divided up. Some of it went up to the boss for sure. Lets not be naive. This has mob written all over it, or atleast it is surely somethinfg the mob would be interested in. As Al Pacino said, "I always liked you Michael, it was just business".

As a disclaimer, these are just random thoughts from a blogger, and in no way should be considered as fact. I merely point out the possibility. The mob could be involved. Not only here, but across the ticket scams wherever they exist. The mob and ticket scams go hand in hand and this is no revelation. Lets see what the Feds come up with.

ralphralph 5 years, 2 months ago

“If people want to do bad things, it’s hard to eliminate it completely.”

It's especially hard when the "people" who do the "bad things" are ALL of the people in the building.

The tenor is set at the top and flows down.

Top Kill. Fire Lew.

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