Kentucky AD Statement Has Glaring Non-Denial

Today Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart released a statement responding to my report last night that he would soon be interviewing for the Kansas Athletic Director position.

Mitch Barnhart Kentucky Athletic Director To Interview With Kansas

(Get the UK fan reax to Barnhart’s statement)

Barnhart’s complete statement from the UK official site:

“Being a Kansas native with family in the area, having gone to Ottawa University in Kansas and my wife, Connie being a Kansas alum, I have many ties to the state. We have received calls from friends and supporters of the university about the athletic director position at Kansas. I have not been formally contacted by the University of Kansas. I am 100 percent focused on UK Athletics.

“We have made progress in many areas over the last eight years, but we need to provide our coaches and student-athletes with the facilities to compete at the highest level.

“We have initiated the process of building a new track and are now focused on how we can upgrade Commonwealth Stadium and our football facilities. Our 22 sports receive unbelievable support from the Big Blue Nation and our fans deserve championship level success across the board.”

The two lines that matter:

I have not been formally contacted by the University of Kansas. I am 100 percent focused on UK Athletics.

Does that look like a denial to you? (Somebody tell Mitch he’s not the football coach at Alabama.) Read more…

Kentucky’s Barnhart ‘Finalist’ For Kansas AD Job

Two SEC school administration sources have told me in the past 48 hours that University of Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart will interview for the Kansas University Athletic Director position in early December.

Mitch Barnhart Kentucky Athletic Director To Interview With Kansas

(Landing KU gig would likely mean bump in pay for UK’s Barnhart)

Joining Barnhart as a finalist for the position is current Tulsa Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham. Cunningham will also interview with Kansas for the job next month, which was recently vacated by the retirement of Lew Perkins.

I’ve been told Barnhart and Cunningham are two of three finalists targeted by the six-member Kansas AD search panel, which is chaired by the managing partner of Pegasus Capital Management, Ray Evans.

As it pertains to Barnhart, I’ve been told there are three main factors fueling the interest of Kansas officials in the current UK AD. Read more…

Pushed Out By Pioli, Thum Candidate For KU AD

In 36 years, Denny Thum worked for only one organization, the Kansas City Chiefs. In 1974 he graduated from KC-based Rockhurst College and took a job as an accountant with the team. Rising through the franchise ranks, Thum was named Chief Operating Officer in May 2006, interim team president in December 2008 and team president in May 2009.

Denny Thum Clark Hunt Scott Pioli

(Clockwise from left: Denny Thum, Clark Hunt, Scott Pioli)

Then, two weeks ago, after the club’s biggest win in years in a gleaming, newly-renovated Arrowhead Stadium, Thum abruptly, and quietly, resigned.

Former longtime Chiefs beat writer Rick Gosselin wrote a most appropriate obit of Thum’s decorated tenure with the team in the DALLAS MORNING NEWS:

The Kansas City Chiefs dumped club president Denny Thum unceremoniously this month after a 36-year stay with the team. I covered the Chiefs from 1977-89, and Thum taught me the financial side of the NFL. He was the best contract negotiator I’ve ever seen. He also was a loyal employee to Hall of Fame owner Lamar Hunt through good times and bad.

But Thum’s problem was he was inherited by a new owner (Clark Hunt), new general manager (Scott Pioli) and new chief operating officer (Mark Donovan). So the new wave ushered him to the door. Thum deserved better treatment.

The Chiefs have no idea right now how much they are going to miss his expertise in so many areas. Thum won’t be out of work long.

The timing of Thum’s departure, though strange on the surface, actually makes sense once you dig into the details of the Chiefs’ office politics. Read more…

KU Forced Out Perkins To Prevent Successor Input

Tuesday Thayer Evans of FOXSports.com reported that University of Kansas Athletic Director Lew Perkins resigned from his post effective immediately. The school later confirmed Evans’ report, framing Perkins’ ouster as a “retirement.”

Lew Perkins

In the past year, Kansas school officials have uncovered astounding corruption in Perkins’ KU athletic department regarding the misuse of game tickets. (The FBI is still investigating.) Perkins was not implicated by the school itself in that scandal, which reportedly cost the school up to $3 million in lost ticket revenue, but Perkins was still facing an ethics investigation into his own handling of state funds.

The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission is scheduled to meet on Sept. 21 to explore conflict-of-interest issues pertaining to state employees. The commission was expected to soon examine the issue of Perkins accepting a “personal loan” of $15,000 in exercise equipment from a Kansas Athletics vendor - who has confirmed the transaction - in exchange for better seats to Kansas basketball games.

Kansas law states that “no person subject to the provisions of this section shall solicit or accept any gift, economic opportunity, loan, gratuity, special discount or service provided because of such person’s official position.

Violation of the law is grounds for dismissal and a $5,000 fine.

With the commission’s next meeting just two weeks away, perhaps today’s “retirement” announcement was related to the prospect of more Perkins-related bad publicity for the school.

While a source didn’t confirm that connection, I was given some additional insight into the impetus of the effective dismissal of Perkins. Read more…

KU Chancellor Calls Out Nebraska About Big 10

Doug Tucker of the ASSOCIATED PRESS has details on the action the University of Kansas is taking to try to save the Big 12 conference.

Tom Osborne

(Tom Osborne Holds Key To Future Of Big 12 Conference)

Recognizing the defection of Nebraska to the Big 10 could create a mass exodus of Big 12 schools to the Pac-10, Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little called Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman today to “urge” her counterpart to keep the school in the Big 12.

Gray-Little said she planned to call Missouri chancellor Brady J. Deatonwith the same message.”

Read more…

Real Kansas Scandal: Trading Prospects For Profit

If you haven’t read through the excellent reporting on the Kansas University sports tickets scandal, you’re missing out. Fascinating work by Yahoo Sports and the KANSAS CITY STAR.

Kansas Ticket Scandal With The Pump Brothers

(Well at least they passed the savings on to you! .. Wait.)

Though a critical part of the story is missing: Exactly what conditions existed at KU and in the world of high profile NCAA basketball to allow such alleged corruption to germinate and take hold.

The Yahoo Sports report, featuring Jason King, Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel, gets us closest to the root of problem, though the Kansas University investigative report gives no clue to the true symptoms. (The Kansas investigative report was commissioned and paid for by the athletic department only after the Kansas City Star previously reported a federal inquiry into the possibility that KU men’s basketball tickets had been taken and sold illegally.)

While it may seem that allegedly scamming up to $3 million worth of Kansas hoops tickets is pretty damn serious, we’ve yet to get a whiff of what the Feds and IRS are currently digging up. From Yahoo:

Freeman also provides information about a ticket scalping operation involving NCAA Final Four and University of Kansas basketball tickets, including potential tax evasion, theft, money laundering and other possible crimes.

A source familiar with the investigation confirmed to Yahoo! Sports that Freeman tied multiple individuals to the scalping operation, including college sports entrepreneurs David and Dana Pump, KU athletics department employee Rodney Jones, and former KU basketball star Roger Morningstar, the father of current Jayhawks guard Brady Morningstar.

In other words, things may still get a lot worse for the Kansas Athletic Dept. along with the aforementioned outside individuals.

Though we don’t know the precise nature of the initial contact, Yahoo does report that the whole sordid ordeal allegedly began in 2002 when college basketball power brokers David and Dana Pump contacted former KU player Roger Morningstar.

This passage from the Yahoo report is, to me, the most important part of the entire scandalous saga - at least so far:

According to Freeman, the ticket scalping operation at KU began when the Pumps contacted Roger Morningstar – Freeman’s former business partner – in the winter of 2002 and asked him if he knew how to obtain extra Kansas postseason basketball tickets. The Pumps promised him that a significant amount of money could be earned by selling the seats at a price above face value.

Roger Morningstar knew that Jones, who was an assistant ticket manager at the time, was one of Freeman’s close friends, so he told Freeman to ask Jones if he was interested in participating, Freeman said.

Freeman is David Freeman. From Yahoo:

Freeman, who has a pair of drug convictions on his record from 1989, was scheduled to begin an 18-month jail sentence Thursday on an unrelated bribery charge.

As Freeman was apparently buddies with KU athletic admin Roger Jones, he was able to convince Jones to *creatively acquire* KU hoops tickets to funnel to the Pumps - via Morningstar and Freeman - who would then sell the tickets to ticket brokers.

Now for the $64,000 question: How in the hell did the Pumps convince Morningstar to ask Freeman to ask KU athletic admin Jones to get tickets for them?

Answer: Being the two most powerful men in college sports you never heard of.

Read more…

NBCSports.com: KU AD Fired Instead Of Mangino?

John Taylor at NBCSports.com’s College Football Talk sources a very different side to the Mark Mangino saga at Kansas. Taylor cites a “school source with knowledge of the situation” who accuses Kansas Athletic Director Lew Perkins of a “convoluted vendetta” against Mangino which includes deceiving Jayhawk football players into speaking out against the coach and leaking embarrassing info about Mangino to the media.

Mark Mangino Lew Perkins

(KU AD Lew Perkins, appropriately stationed behind Mangino’s back)

The source correctly notes that the complaint that started the entire investigation into Mangino’s conduct was originally made by linebacker Arist Wright before KU’s Oct. 17 game against Colorado, when the Jayhawks were 5-0. News of Wright’s complaint was not made public until this week, after the team had lost five straight games.

Read more…

Names Of Players Who Complained About Mangino

Yesterday we broke the news that KU football players were complaining to the school’s athletic admin about Mark Mangino’s treatment of them  - and how AD Lew Perkins threw Mangino under the bus.

Kansas Players Who Complained About Abuse From Mark Mangino

(Top to Bottom: Angus Quigley, Dakota Lewis, Arist Wright)

We haven’t known the players who complained, until now. Read more…

Mangino On The Brink Of Being Fired By Kansas

Earlier today, we got word that some KU football players, past and present, were meeting with Kansas Athletic Director Lew Perkins to discuss the coaching methods of Mark Mangino.

Mark Mangino

(Exactly What Did Mangino Do To His Players?)

Mangino then met with Perkins who told him that the school is bringing in an “unbiased” consultant to evaluate the football program.

Mangino maintained to the media that he had not lost his players, and that, “I may have lost some people around here, but it’s not players. Take that for what it’s worth, you decipher it.”

KU quarterback Todd Reesing also met with the media, and didn’t exactly fall all over himself in supporting his coach. Read more…