Sound decision

The best way for Kansas University to move beyond the embarrassing athletic ticket scandal is to make sure it could never happen again.

August 12, 2011


Kansas University leaders made a fiscally sound decision last week not to file a civil lawsuit against those convicted in a $2 million athletic ticket scheme.

But that shouldn’t be the end of the case. University leaders now must have a system of checks and balances in place to make sure they aren’t deceived again.

KU officials and their attorneys say the costs of pursuing civil litigation against the conspirators outweigh the benefits to KU. “The time and the expense that it would take for us to pursue that case, it would far outstrip any funds that we would recover. Truly we are focused on the future and what we have to accomplish to be successful going forward,” said Tim Caboni, KU’s vice chancellor for public affairs.

This decision makes sense. Why maintain the focus on this grim chapter, especially when the financial gain is likely to be minimal?

So far, KU has collected $430,000 — $250,000 from the university’s theft insurance policy and $180,000 from the former employees — in connection with the judgment in the criminal cases. Even if Kansas Athletics pursues no civil prosecutions, this case will be kept alive by federal efforts such as the lawsuit filed this week against former associate athletic director Ben Kirtland and his wife. The lawsuit claims that the couple’s transfer of property as part of a divorce settlement was intended to hide assets and defraud the government.

Kirtland and three other former Kansas Athletics Inc. employees — Charlette Blubaugh, Rodney Jones and Kassie Liebsch — and one consultant, Tom Blubaugh, are serving time in federal prison after pleading guilty in the cash-for-tickets scam that took place from 2005 to 2010.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger, who was hired in January, have said whatever additional funds KU recovers would be directed to the benefit of student-athletes just as the stolen ticket money would have been.

Now, KU must say what safeguards are in place to prevent another conspiracy. What are the reporting and auditing procedures? What checks and balances are in place? Who is responsible for the day-to-day oversight of the department and its inner workings?

Another issue must also be addressed. Among the many concerns caused by this episode was the possibility that employees were afraid to speak up about questionable actions by co-workers. KU personnel must have avenues to safely share information if they suspect something is amiss.

There is a very expensive and important lesson to be learned. This case won’t be over until the public is confident that such financial abuse won’t occur again.


Jack Martin 4 years, 3 months ago

Last September, Chancellor Gray-Little gave an update to the Board of Regents regarding the steps KU has taken to increase accountability and transparency. These were steps recommended by the audit firm BKD and by a task force she convened to examine ticketing procedures. You can see that presentation here: http://chancellor.ku.edu/speeches/091610speech.shtml

Some of the measures taken include: Hiring a forensic auditor in the university's Office of Internal Audit who focuses on Kansas Athletics Segregating duties so that ticket office staff are either responsible for the custody of tickets or the recording of their disbursement, not both Implementing a new tracking system for requesting complimentary tickets Restricting access to the ticketing system based on job responsibilities * Increasing transparency of Select-A-Seat so fans can see how many points are held by the occupant of a particular seat

Internal Audit also created an anonymous online form for reporting fraud, which is available at http://internalaudit.ku.edu/. Reports are confidential and can also be made via 864-1300 or by e-mailing reportfraud@ku.edu.

Finally, we will continue to aggressively pursue the monetary judgments against the perpetrators and appreciate the work of federal prosecutors in that pursuit.

socialintelligencecounts 4 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

socialintelligencecounts 4 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 4 years, 3 months ago

If you are looking for Lew Perkins, you can find him hiding under a desk.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.