Ticket scandal amounts to $1.03 million in losses
- May. 26, 2010
- 1 Comment
The Kansas Athletics program has shined in recent years.
Men’s basketball is the top team in the Big 12 and the football team has seen some of its best years in the past decade.
But while all that occurred, Athletics Director Lew Perkins missed a scam worth $1.03 million in tickets.
“It caught me totally off guard,” Perkins said. “Things were going so good. We were raising a lot of money, we were selling a lot of tickets, we were winning. Maybe we just got a little complacent.”
Perkins, along with Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, University General Counsel Jim Pottorff and investigator Jack Focht of Foulston Siefkin LLP, spoke Wednesday about the newly released reports of a ticket scandal within the athletics department.
According to the report conducted by Foulston Siefkin, a Wichita law firm, at least 17,609 men’s basketball game tickets, 2,181 football game tickets, parking passes and Arrowhead Club passes were sold for personal gain.
Those numbers are just from 2005-2010, but the process began years before.
The report identified six former Kansas Athletics employees or contractors, who were unable to be subpoenaed: Charlette Blubaugh, former associate athletics director of ticket operations and her husband, Tom Blubaugh, a former contracted consultant; Rodney Jones, former assistant athletics director for the Williams Educational Fund; Ben Kirtland, former associate athletics director of development; Brandon Simmons, former assistant athletics director of sales and marketing; and Jason Jeffries, former assistant director of ticket operations.
“It is not easy to learn that people you trusted let you down,” Perkins said.
The scandal went on for years without anyone finding out. Those profiting off tickets not only had the trust of the athletic department, they were also experts.
“You had some of the best auditors in the country auditing this department,” Focht said. “And they fooled them.”
Though it was a large sum of money, the effect the stolen tickets had was minimal. At the worst, Williams Fund Donors would only sit a row or two back from where they could have been. And the pool of available tickets for season-ticket holders was slightly smaller.
Perkins blamed himself upfront for not discovering the wrongdoings earlier.
“I accept responsibility because I am the athletic director and I let this happen under my watch,” he said. “I thought we had just about every safeguard in place.
He said this is the first time he has been involved in a situation like this and he is disappointed, but not discouraged. Now that the problem has surfaced, it can be fixed, he said.
To prevent such acts from occurring again, Gray-Little and Perkins suggested the following may be implemented:
— Strengthening internal control for handling and distributing tickets
— Hiring a full-time forensic auditor to ensure financial integrity
— Establishing a whistle-blowing hotline
Gray-Little made it clear the six scalpers will be punished, not Kansas Athletics, the victim in the scandal. Also, Perkins is not in danger of losing his job nor has the university violated NCAA rules thus far.
Now that the information is out, the rebuilding of the Kansas Athletic reputation can begin.
“Now we know about it,” Perkins said, “we can correct this. Just think if we didn’t have an idea, there would still be something wrong. I look at this as a positive.”