Former football player says KU ignored harassment complaints, ‘tried to buy’ silence
photo by: Nick Krug
Kansas Athletics officials said Monday that their focus was on moving forward under new leadership in response to allegations that the department had paid a former student athlete to remain silent about threats and harassment with teammates in the Kansas football program.
Caperton Humphrey, a former KU football player, says the university offered him more than $50,000 in benefits if he left the program and stayed quiet about harassment he experienced from four other players on the team.
The approximately $50,000 in benefits included tuition for Humphrey to attend online KU classes from his home in West Virginia after he left the KU football program in 2019. As part of that agreement, Humphrey had to agree to not talk publicly or to the media about what happened while he was on the KU football team.
The deal happened under the tenures of former KU AD Jeff Long and former head football coach Les Miles. A spokesman for KU’s athletic department did not directly answer a Journal-World question about whether the current athletic department leaders believe it is appropriate to seek such non-disparagement agreements from student-athletes.
“The wellbeing of our student-athletes is the highest priority for Kansas Athletics, and we will continue to ensure that is reflected on a daily basis under the leadership of Director of Athletics Travis Goff,” Senior Associate AD Dan Beckler said in a statement to the Journal-World.
Humphrey, who played at Kansas in 2017 and 2018 first as a walk-on and later on scholarship, said the feud he had with several teammates culminated in a confrontation between Humphrey and the other players in his apartment when the players threatened him, his father and his 15-year-old brother, according to a report by The Kansas City Star.
Humphrey said at some point in February 2019, someone loosened the lug nuts on one of the tires on his vehicle enough that he noticed the tire wobbling in his side-view mirror. Humphrey reported that incident to police, but no arrest was made because there wasn’t evidence to show who loosened the nuts holding the wheel on.
Humphrey said he told university officials about the harassment and that he had seen some of the other players selling drugs at the apartment building where they all lived. But former football coach Miles responded by suggesting the players work it out between themselves during full-contact drills in practice.
Humphrey said that ultimately the university offered to pay his tuition and his monthly stipend of $1,289 if he took online KU classes from his home in West Virginia and agreed not to talk about what happened. The university also agreed to reimburse Humphrey for his trip home from college and pay to ship his belongings to him from a storage unit in Lawrence. Those items were worth a little over $50,000.
Humphrey’s father, Jamie Humphrey, said his son has battled depression and started to see a psychiatrist since his time in Lawrence, and the family is considering a lawsuit against the university and the officials involved.
“Les Miles and Jeff Long swept this under the rug and tried to buy our silence,” Jamie Humphrey said. “This is how they operated while representing Kansas.”
• The Associated Press contributed to this report.