Topeka — Acknowledging the public relations nightmare created by the ticket-scalping scandal at Kansas University, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little on Thursday said the school is increasing control of the ticket system, transparency of seating allocations, and oversight of the athletic department.
In a briefing to the Kansas Board of Regents, Gray-Little also said that KU is reserving the right to pursue civil litigation against those involved in the ticket scam, and that she was close to finalizing appointments to a search committee to help hire a new athletics director.
Regents members heaped praise on her actions.
"You have taken an issue not of your making and provided positive and very substantial steps to address it," said Regents Chairman Gary Sherrer of Overland Park.
Six people — five former KU athletics department employees, and a consultant — were implicated in an internal KU investigation that documented the theft and sale of KU football and basketball tickets for personal gain, a scheme officials say involved at least 19,000 tickets and cost Kansas Athletics between $1 million and $3 million — and possibly more. Two men have already admitted to stealing tickets and are cooperating with prosecutors.
In regard to civil litigation, Regent Ed McKechnie said, "I certainly hope that you do pursue that and retrieve whatever money can be retrieved."
Gray-Little also informed the regents that KU had notified insurance carriers that the university may file claims on the ticket losses.
Gray-Little told the regents she was changing the athletics department, including the possibility of adding outside representation to an advisory committee to provide better oversight. She earlier had removed the athletics director as chairman of that board of directors and named Jerry Bailey, associate professor of education and a faculty representative, as the chairman.
Regent Tim Emert of Independence praised the selection of Bailey, and Sherrer encouraged her to add outside representatives to the committee.
KU also has hired a forensic auditor focusing on the athletics department. And KU has established a system that allows people purchasing football and basketball tickets to view the point system for seating to see how many points are needed to get seats in specific areas of Allen Fieldhouse and Memorial Stadium. Points are determined by donations and other factors.
In addition, the school has instituted more control over complimentary tickets and segregated duties in ticket-handling procedures, Gray-Little said.
On another topic, Gray-Little was asked about the search for a new athletic director after the sudden retirement Sept. 7 of Lew Perkins, who originally was scheduled to retire in 2011.
Gray-Little said she would have a search committee appointed within days. She joked that she has received a lot of recommendations on who should serve in that group, adding, "I have not heard from the Vatican yet and have not heard from the White House."