Transparency the best medicine for KU athletic department
News has come out of the Kansas University athletic department ticket scandal like a dripping faucet. You know it’s coming, but it still keeps you awake at night.
The latest drip — last week’s revelation that Kassie Liebsch and Rodney Jones will have change-of-plea hearings Thursday and Friday in Wichita — was a relatively quiet one drowned out by the euphoria surrounding the hiring of a new athletic director, the continued domination of the basketball team and an increasingly encouraging football recruiting outlook.
Yet, for such a quiet drip it certainly has been a difficult one to purge from the mind. Jones cutting a deal? Didn’t most sort of perceive him as a ring-leader? If he wasn’t, then who was? Ben Kirtland, one of the five indicted, was Jones’ boss, so maybe it’s nothing more than him ratting out Kirtland.
Yet, given how much later Liebsch’s indictment came than the others, it would be a mistake to assume that the deal-making of Jones and Liebsch necessarily is aimed toward the others already indicted. Could it be the investigation has expanded and uncovered information worthy of more indictments? Impossible to say at this point because feds don’t have lips, which is another way of saying it’s impossible to rule out.
It’s no surprise that this is all taking so long because as anybody familiar with shady ticket dealings can attest, brokers working in the shadows cast by sleaze deal in cash, which is immune to deep-digging computer searches.
Don’t be surprised if at some point an accusation such as this surfaces: One of the indicted will say he or she visited a ticket broker with an empty duffel bag and left with as much as $17,000 in cash stuffed into it for delivery to a private residence. But whose home? Intriguing questions such as that, and so many more, are the ones for which the feds have tried to nail down proof that will stand up in court.
KU Athletics, which has tried so hard in recent years to control its own message in an effort to shield the public from knowing anything other than what it wants known, loses control once the whole mess goes to trial for those who don’t cut deals. At that point, KU will be best served by not trying to minimize or spin in any way whatever horrific details might go public. Instead, transparency as to how things are run by the new people in place, such as ticket manager Doug Hopkins, is the most advisable medicine to bring about the restoration of trust.
Hopkins, whose appointment was announced Friday by the athletic department, comes to Kansas from the Chiefs after scandal-free decades in the ticket business. (By the way, would love to see the Chiefs score their first playoff victory since 1993 today, but absolutely hate that so many fans at KU games choose to embarrass themselves, their university and country by screaming “Chiefs,” instead of “brave,” for the final word of the national anthem).
No matter where the feds’ investigation and ensuing court case take the scandal, KU will recover. The Jayhawk fan base is a very forgiving one, especially when it can cheer for a team as exciting as the one that will try to remain undefeated today when it faces Michigan in Crisler Arena for a 3:30 p.m. tipoff.