The onetime leader of fundraising for Kansas Athletics Inc. plans to plead guilty later this month in federal court for his role in a tickets scam that cost the department millions of dollars.
Ben Kirtland, former associate athletics director for development, is scheduled to enter his guilty plea during a hearing at 10 a.m. Feb. 24 in U.S. District Court in Wichita.
Kirtland would become the seventh and final former athletics employee or consultant charged in the case to plead guilty. The case has led to changes in how tickets are distributed and preceded the accelerated retirement of Lew Perkins as athletic director.
Kirtland had been scheduled to stand trial beginning March 8 on a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. But U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown has agreed to schedule a change-of-plea hearing, at Kirtland’s request.
Already having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud are:
• Charlette Blubaugh, former head of the athletics ticket office.
• Tom Blubaugh, her husband and a former consultant.
• Kassie Liebsch, a former systems analyst who had taken over for Charlette Blubaugh running the tickets office.
• Rodney Jones, former assistant athletic director in charge of Williams Fund.
Each of the co-conspirators face up to 20 years in prison, fines of up to $250,000 and are on the hook for a monetary judgment of $2 million — a total ordered to be paid by convicted co-conspirators.
Two other former co-workers — Jason Jeffries and Brandon Simmons — earlier had pleaded guilty to failing to notify authorities about the scam.
Prosecutors allege that the co-conspirators stole thousands of tickets from 2005 to 2010, then funneled those tickets through brokers and others to generate more than $2 million in illegal proceeds.