There was no reason to suspect anything was wrong at the University of Kansas. The teams were winning, the stands were full, the donor money continued to roll in.


There was no reason to suspect anything was wrong at the University of Kansas. The teams were winning, the stands were full, the donor money continued to roll in.

But behind the scenes, working side-by-side within the athletics department, a group of six employees had allegedly hatched a lucrative ticket-scalping scheme.

Details of the scam were outlined Wednesday in a report that found the “inappropriate” sale of at least $1 million worth of basketball and football tickets to brokers over the past five years, leaving school officials embarrassed.

“Being on the athletics side, the simplest way to try to describe this is that there was a curveball thrown and I missed it,” athletic director Lew Perkins said. “I missed that curveball. It got by. We had the wrong people hired for the wrong the jobs.”

The school said the findings, contained in a report done by a Wichita law firm, have been sent to federal investigators already looking into allegations of wrongdoing in the athletics department and the school’s athletics fundraising arm, the Williams Educational Fund.

The investigation said five Kansas athletics staffers and a consultant - all of them no longer employed by the school - sold or used at least 17,609 men’s basketball tickets, 2,181 football tickets and a number of parking passes and other passes for personal purposes. The report showed over $887,000 in basketball tickets and more than $122,000 worth of football tickets were involved.

And it may be higher than that.

Because investigators did not have subpoena power, the amounts could climb as high as $3 million once the federal probe is complete, according to Jack Focht, attorney for Foulston Siefkin. He said it’s also possible the scam could have started much earlier since accurate records were only kept back to 2005.

Investigators were unable to determine what portion of the $1 million in tickets were sold directly to ticket brokers. Distribution of the tickets were disguised by department employees as complimentary and inventory tickets, or other categories with limited accountability.

School officials were grim-faced as they discussed the former employees, described in the report as “ice cream store” workers who seemed to “feel free to sample the wares without paying for them.”

“We sincerely regret the stress this has caused our loyal fans and any lose of confidence that may have resulted,” chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said. “I want to reassure all Jayhawks that the University of Kansas will be taking decisive actions to restore trust.”