Archive for Thursday, February 13, 2014

House committee rejects bonds for Allen Fieldhouse apartments; another panel OKs help for medical building

February 13, 2014


— A House committee Thursday rejected Kansas University's bid for $17.5 million in bonding authority to build apartments for basketball players.

State Rep. Amanda Grosserode, R-Lenexa, called the project "incredibly extravagant."

State Rep. Allan Rothlisberg, R-Grandview Plaza, said he thought KU's sports enterprises were wealthy enough to build the project on their own.

A motion to approve the bonds by the House Education Budget Committee failed on a 3-5 vote.

Earlier, KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said the apartments, planned to be built near Allen Fieldhouse, were needed as a recruiting tool and to monitor and protect student-athletes from professional agents.

KU is seeking authority from the state to issue bonds for the building, which would be paid off by the university. Of the 66 apartments in the building, 32 would be for student-athletes and 34 for students who are not athletes. The project would also include a commons area, kitchen, parking lot and half-court basketball court.

The committee's recommendation against the $17.5 million in bonds will next go to the full House Appropriations Committee for consideration.

Earlier Thursday, KU fared better before another committee in seeking state assistance to build a new $75 million health education building at the KU Medical Center.

Gray-Little told legislators that the Medical Center needs the facility to train more physicians and maintain accreditation.

"The state has a doctor shortage, and the University of Kansas is the only institution in the state that can address the doctor shortage," Gray-Little said.

Nationally, Kansas ranks 39th in doctors per capita, she said.

The current facilities to train doctors are out of date and can't be retro-fitted, Gray-Little told the House-Senate State Building Construction Committee.

"Our Kansas facilities are at capacity, but they are also antiquated and considered entirely unsuited for a modern medical curriculum," she said. "Our facilities just don't fit the way that medical education is delivered now."

Committee Chairwoman state Sen. Kay Wolf, R-Prairie Village, asked, "It is an accreditation issue, is it not?"

Gray-Little replied that it was. "It is a question of the quality of what we are able to offer," she said.

Of the $75 million cost, KU has authority to issue bonds for $35 million.

Of that amount, KU wants the state to pay $15 million through a multiple-year appropriation of $1.4 million per year. The committee recommended approval of the $1.4 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

KU is also requesting $25 million from a FICA refund. The refund stems from a long-running dispute dealing with Social Security and Medicare withheld from paychecks of former medical residents. The remaining cost of the building would be funded through private funds and gifts.

Gray-Little said if all the pieces were approved by the Legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback, KU could start construction within a year and have the facility opened in time for the 2017 school year.


Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years, 2 months ago

The original report indicated that this would be payed for with a combination of Private money and Bonds. It also indicated that this would be a KUAC Facility. What happened to the Private money?

Jack Martin 4 years, 2 months ago

Nothing has changed from the original proposal. Private donations would be used along with the money generated by the apartment building itself to pay off the bonds.

No taxpayer or tuition funds would be used.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years, 2 months ago

Thanks Jack. I misunderstood then. It sounded like Private funds, if they were available, would be used and that would have lowered the amount of Bonds required. My Mistake.

Jack Martin 4 years, 2 months ago

No worries. The story doesn't make the funding source clear.

Lawrence Morgan 4 years, 2 months ago

This is typical of the current Chancellor. She has no idea what is required for a modern university, and she should be fired.

We don't need taxpayer money to support apartments for student-athletes, to "protect them from recruiters and agents." How is a student living in such apartments protected from a recruiter or professional agent? They can do what they want with their own time.

We need a Chancellor who respects learning, and who is open to new learning ideas, including having online learning, vocational training, and a chance to mix institutions of various kinds and locations throughout the state. Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little has shown very little leadership in any of these areas.

Bob Zimmerman 4 years, 2 months ago

You mean those apartments aren't for helping "edumacate" the student athletes?


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