Federal authorities have launched an investigation into alleged illegal ticket sales of University of Kansas men’s basketball tickets. The university also announced Wednesday, March 24, that it was conducting its own independent investigation of the ticket office and fundraising program.
The exact scope of the investigations is still unclear. According to the Kansas City Star, which broke the news on Wednesday, the activity under investigation involves tickets allegedly being siphoned from the university’s athletics offices which were resold the secondary market. The Star quotes anonymous sources as saying that proceeds from these sales were “in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
The Lawrence Journal-World also reported that federal investigators have subpoenaed a number of ticket brokers, although it’s unknown how many.
It has not yet been disclosed whether the tickets allegedly sold on the secondary market were NCAA Tournament tickets or season tickets.
Gary Sherrer, the vice chair of the University’s board of regents, told the Journal-World, “If somebody makes money and doesn’t report it on their taxes, somebody at the federal level is going to get involved.”
He added, “If this is an individual or a couple of individuals in a very large organization who took advantage and violated the trust of that organization, that happens, unfortunately, every day — in business, in nonprofits, in government, certainly — so I think people need to keep a perspective on it.”
Earlier this month the university reportedly placed Rodney Jones, the former head of its ticket office and the current head of its athletic fundraising effort, on administrative leave. It’s not known whether Jones was involved with the ticket resales in question.
The Williams Fund is the university’s fundraising entity, and last year the fund collected $15 million from donors. Those who donate to the fund participate in a priority points system. Points are received according to past ticket purchases. A rewards system based on points earned gives donors the chance for perks like better parking and also better seats.
Donors also received priority tickets to games at the The Allen Fieldhouse, which seats 16,300 people. The university allocates 4,000 season tickets for students. After players receive their four tickets per game and staff members receive their seats, the rest of the tickets are sold to Williams Fund members. The Fund has more than 4,200 members.
Despite being losing to Northern Iowa in the second round of the NCAA tournament, the Jayhawks won 59 home games in a row over the past couple of seasons. The team, one of the most popular in college basketball, has had no trouble filling its stadium near or to full capacity.