Rock Chalk Embarrassment
As an upcoming graduate from the University of Kansas , I have to admit that the latest Kansas ticket scandal report by Yahoo! Sports and subsequent findings in an “internal investigation” is another black eye on the battered face of the Athletic Department and University.
The motto of the school in Latin is “Videbo visionem hanc magnam quare non comburatur rubus” or “I will see this great vision in which the bush does not burn.” Exodus 3:3
Well Jayhawkers, the bush is not only burning, it is engulfed in flames.
The summer before my senior year of high school, I decided I would be attending KU. While most of my classmates dealt with questions regarding their future, the only question I had to constantly answer was “Why Kansas ?”
It was difficult to put into words an answer that would convey the beauty of a campus that sits on Mount Oread and is surrounded by Lawrence , a scenic college town at the bottom of “The Hill”.
Of course, everyone knows about Allen Fieldhouse and the consistently ranked basketball team that give the University national merit.
However, few people have visited the school or historic town The Princeton Review describes as “strong in traditions both sports and academics, the University of Kansas is a paradise for sports fans, academics, and partiers alike.”
“Lawrence offers a great downtown with bars, clubs, shops, coffeehouses, and music. There’s always something to do, even if you’re not 21.”
So when the inevitable “Wizard of Oz” jokes and questions like “Why Kansas? “, “What’s in Kansas? “, or “Isn’t it all flat ?” pour in, I simply state, “You can’t understand until you see it.”
Of course, the same people that made the “I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore Toto” cracks came away with the sentiment and memorable quote “Kansas University is actually BADASS!” (I forgave them for saying Kansas University, when it is actually The University of Kansas, but goes by KU)
Since 2004, the University of Kansas has obtained unimaginable financial and team success behind Athletic Director Lew Perkins but, during the same time frame, a Lindsay Lohan-like rock bottom.
The high came in 2008, when the football and basketball programs made NCAA history with a 49-4 record, the most combined wins by the two sports in a single season.
The football team went 12-1 under then-coach Mark Mangino and won the Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech, while Bill Self’s 37-3 basketball team beat Memphis in a memorable championship game.
However, rock bottom for the Kansas Jayhawks weren’t early tournament losses to Bucknell, Bradley, and Northern Iowa in basketball or a losing football season in 2009. It was the constant off-court issues involving players and the administration that has added up to little repercussions by university officials.
When I heard that the University of Kansas was investigating improper distribution of basketball and football tickets, I thought three things:
1. Shit, I hope I don’t end up in the report for selling my complimentary football ticket for a case of beer.
2. Forget the Kansas School of Business, I should have taken business classes from the KU Athletics ticket office!
3. There’s a growing list of embarrassments over the last seven years that are too blatant to ignore anymore.
Here’s a time line of events that have happened during Perkins regime:
- Between 1997-2003, the NCAA cited Kansas for “lack of institutional control.”
-Over the past seven years, several prominent athletes have had run-ins with the law including: Sherron Collins, Marcus and Markieff Morris, Brandon Rush, Brady Morningstar, Chase Buford, Aqib Talib, John Randle, Jose and Cesar Rodriguez, and Jamal Greene.
-Fans at football games yell “Rip his fucking head off ” during kick-offs so loudly, it can be heard on TV telecasts and the administration does little to nip it in the bud.
- An on going feud between the basketball and football teams led to two on campus brawls during the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year.
-The Mark Mangino internal investigation spearheaded by Perkins that ended up in the coach reaching a termination settlement. Kansas appointed Turner Gill , from Buffalo University, as the next football coach.
-The third “internal investigation” during Perkins’ tenure was just completed based upon high ranking officials in the Athletic cabinet selling allotted tickets for a substantial profit.
It is clear Perkins is about two things: money and winning . No AD in the country has been able to match his resume in those two departments. Just look at what he did at UCONN from 1990-2003.
At Kansas, he has found success in the sports programs as well as doubling the athletic budget to $55 million, $10 million in renovations to Allen Fieldhouse, and the building of a $31 million Anderson Family Football Complex are just some of the major highlights he has brought to the public campus.
However, a few of Perkins decisions have been met with skepticism including:
-A point-system ticket distribution that determines priority seating based on alumni involvement and donations.
-The hastily put together plan of the Gridiron Club , where Perkins used Gale Sayers to solicit fans for donations to build an unnecessary (considering the economic time and more pressing needs in other athletic/education areas) “suite” addition to Memorial Stadium.
-The way he handled the Mangino (forced) resignation.
-The latest ticket scandal by people HE chose to run various funding and sales operations.
But at what point does integrity win out?
Bernadette Gray-Little is a year into being Chancellor at the University of Kansas and has already had to deal with numerous negative incidents regarding Kansas Athletics.
At what point does she decide enough is enough with Perkins?
Kansas is a nationally recognized public research institution, first and foremost, with numerous academic programs rising dramatically in college rankings, but the latest instances have left a black mark on the University.
It makes me wonder how my out-of-state tuition is being dispersed.
The problem with much of the Kansas Jayhawks fan base is that they are vary narrow-minded. If you go on the KUsports.com message board and mention anything negatively about the program, you can expect to be banned within minutes.
It appears the Kansas Administration has taken the same stance as well. Instead of dealing with the Athletic Department’s impropriety head-on, they take the damage control route, rather than owning up to the mistakes made and dealing swift punishment.
Give Indiana University credit. Their basketball program may have fallen off dramatically, but at least they got rid of the people who made mistakes, including coach Kelvin Sampson and AD Rick Greenspan .
This was taken from the Williams Fund description on the KU Athletics website :
“The University of Kansas and its athletics programs have enjoyed a long, proud tradition. Athletics play a key role in the total experience of university life. Due to their high visibility, athletics serve the university as a rallying point for students, faculty, alumni, and fans. In order to continue the proud tradition that is Kansas Athletics, we need your support! ”
Would you want to support a department that witheld 18,000 of YOUR tickets and sold $1-3 million worth of face value tickets? That is FACE VALUE, not the actual value of which they were sold on the street so, realistically, the perpetrators under Perkins’ watch could have netted $4-6 million in the deals.
The article by James King, Dan Wetzel, and Charles Robinson offers some scary details if you read closely.
“Pressed for details on who he was delivering the tickets to the hotel rooms, Dave Freeman refused.
“Not going there,” Freeman said. “One of them was about 250 pounds and he [expletive] talked like [he had a New Jersey accent]. You seen Goodfellas? I don’t know who the [expletive] they were. I can honestly tell you, I don’t know who the [expletive] they were. It was ‘This is the room you go to, this is the guy you need to see.’ There were no [expletive] names. The door would open and a guy would be standing there with a gun. You walk in, do the deal and you’re out.”
With the FBI and IRS involvement, the growing list of characters reminds of Oliver Stone’s film “JFK” with Kansas dossiers including Dana and David Pump , Roger Morningstar , Freeman , Rodney Jones , Ben Kirtland , and Perkins .
With the many connections Yahoo!Sports alluded to in the Kansas Ticket Office ring, it becomes more and more difficult to believe that the Kansas Athletic Director had no idea this was going on.
“I accept responsibility because I am the Athletic Director and this happened during my watch, but I don’t accept responsibility for anything criminal or any of those things,” Perkins said.
The only thing missing is Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) responding “I’m sorry Mr. Ferrie, your story is simply not believable” to a preposterous, drawn-out lie told by David Ferrie (Joe Pesci) and the incredulous suspect saying “What part?”
There have been a lot of class act players that have gone through the Kansas program over the last few years, including Wayne Simien, Kerry Meier, Darrell Stuckey, Darnell Jackson , and Cole Aldrich, but Perkins and his latest cast of characters have left a dark cloud hanging over a wonderful university.
The Kansas fan base can only hope that the likes of Self and the overall integrity of the program and University can be left intact.
To paraphrase the end of JFK : “Alfred Tennyson wrote 'Authority forgets a dying king.' Do not forget your dying king. Show this world that this is still a government of the people, for the people, and by the people. Nothing as long as you live will ever be more important. It’s up to you.”
It is time for the University of Kansas to show it’s still a public institution for and by the people, and that commitment starts with the removal of Lew Perkins as Athletic Director.
Sources: Thanks to The University of Kansas , KUSports.com, and Yahoo!Sport s for their news stories, which were used as supporting facts in my article.
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