University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little late last week fulfilled a promise to update the university’s Board of Regents on progress in the wake of KU’s ticket scalping scandal, and announced that she was setting up a search committee to find a new athletic director (AD).
In her update, Chancellor Gray-Little also highlighted the various changes which have already been put in place during the months following the scandal. In addition to hiring an independent forensic auditor focused on the activities of the AD, the administration has worked to segregate duties in the ticket office, splitting responsibilities among several staffers to reduce opportunities for fraud. The school also has worked to enhance control over the issuing of complimentary tickets, a system which previous AD staffers had allegedly manipulated in order to sell tickets for profit.
KU’s controversial “points” system, in which alumni gain points toward better seating at games as their donation levels rise, has been made more transparent, with alums now able to view how many points they and other seat-holders have accrued. As for the AD’s Board of Directors, Gray-Little is considering inviting representation from outside the university, and she has already removed the Athletic Director as the Board’s Chairperson.
Gray-Little received approval from the Board of Regents on her actions, with Board members praising her for taking quick action to address issues of concern in the Athletic Department following the scandal.
Earlier this year, the university had found itself at the epicenter of an illegal ticket-selling scheme, as a private audit revealed that a number of Athletic Department employees were involved in selling tickets to brokers and pocketing the profits. An internal probe was unable to determine how many of these tickets were sold to brokers, but it found that, between 2005 and 2010, those involved had a part in illegally obtaining nearly 20,000 basketball and football tickets from the department, with a value totaling approximately $1 million.
In reality, these figures could climb even higher, since accurate records of such transactions have been kept only since 2005, and allegations of scalping by one of the accused and his associates reach back to the 2002 Big 12 Tournament.
Soon after news of this scandal broke, embarrassed Athletic Director Lew Perkins, formerly the AD at the University of Connecticut, also had to answer charges that he accepted exercise equipment in his home in return for favors. Then this summer, the Kansas City Star leveled accusations at Perkins regarding his alleged use of unnecessarily expensive travel to meetings and games.
Back in June, Perkins announced that he would be retiring from his Athletic Director’s position with KU in September of 2011, but on September 7 he and Gray-Little announced that he would be leaving his post immediately. Senior associate athletic director Sean Lester is now KU’s interim Athletic Director.