Last week, two guys who used to work at the University of Kansas Athletic Department pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the ticket skimming scandal.
Their names are Brandon Simmons and Jason Jeffries, and their titles are unimportant. All you need to know is that they were functionaries, organization men lucky or skilled enough to insert themselves into the ecosystem of big-time college athletics. Their talents were immaterial to the success of KU sports -- most literate people could handle the duties necessary to work in a ticket office at a major university. But they had access to something a thousand times more rare than themselves: seats at Allen Fieldhouse. Corruption took hold.
Simmons and Jeffries are cooperating with authorities in the hopes of lighter sentences. More indictments may be coming.
The federal investigation has shaken the University of Kansas. But the facts do not surprise in light of what went on at Kansas State University's athletic department, where functionaries also ran wild.
In Manhattan, the sense of entitlement sat over the athletic department like a fog. Nest feathering was office policy. Deputies who worked inside
the athletic department were signed to five-year contracts, as if they
were coveted head coaches or free-agent sluggers. People who quit even got paid. A former athletic director, Tim Weiser, received a five-year, $1.9 million consulting agreement shortly before he left for a job at the Big 12.
Weiser's successor, Bob Krause, a toady of former university president Jon Wefald, was being paid as a consultant by the athletic department for several years prior to his taking the job as AD. Last week came the embarrassing news that Krause had tried to undo the mistake of Ron Prince's contract extension by offering the former head football coach the opportunity to benefit from an insurance policy on Krause's life.
The self-dealing shenanigans at KSU did not stir federal prosecutors. But what happened there is not so different than what went down in Lawrence. The lesson in each instance is the same: Authority without accomplishment is a formula for scandal.