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Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Kansas clears AD Perkins

Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The University of Kansas said Wednesday an internal investigation has cleared embattled athletic director Lew Perkins of any wrongdoing in connection with the free use of exercise equipment.

Still pending is another, entirely separate scandal that has rocked the Jayhawks and led to an FBI and IRS investigation. An investigation commissioned by the school released last month charged that former employees ran a scam involving millions of dollars worth of basketball and football tickets.

The independent investigation said the ticket scam involved five former employees and a part-time consultant and cost Kansas as much as $3 million from 2005-10. The employees have all been fired.

Although no one has said that Perkins, 65, was involved in the ticket scam, he had to miss two days of the important Big 12 meetings last week to be in Topeka, Kan., to testify before a grand jury looking into the matter.

In the exercise equipment matter, former Kansas employee William Dent claimed that Perkins accepted use of the rehabilitation equipment in his home in exchange for letting the company's owners buy premium basketball tickets in Allen Fieldhouse. Dent resigned from the athletic department in 2007.

Perkins and the owners of the now-defunct company all denied the charge. In April, Perkins paid Medical Outfitters $5,000 to cover use of the equipment and told police in Lawrence, Kan., that he was being blackmailed. A police investigation into his complaint is ongoing.

However, Perkins may not be entirely out of the woods. He has asked the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission to determine if he violated ethics laws that prohibit state employees from accepting many types of loans and gifts. If the commission says that he was in violation, he could be fined as much as $5,000.

"It will be up to them to make a determination on that," Kansas spokesman Jack Martin told The Associated Press.

But in a statement released with the announcement on Wednesday, chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little expressed complete faith in Perkins. In an interview on Monday with the AP, she said that Perkins' experience and perspective will be needed to help Kansas survive the possible breakup of the Big 12 Conference.

"I have full confidence in Lew and his ability to focus on what is best for our student-athletes and the University of Kansas in the days ahead," Gray-Little said Wednesday.

"Even though we may question the motivations of the source, the allegations were serious enough to warrant a detailed review. That review has been completed and its results find no evidence to substantiate the allegations that were made."

The investigation was conducted by vice provost Mary Lee Hummert and human resources program director Allen Humphrey.

In e-mails to Perkins that Dent secretly shared with the Topeka Capital-Journal until the allegations became public, Dent also told Perkins that he knew of irregularities in the school's drug-testing program and that some Kansas athletes were ineligible.

"During the course of their review, Hummert and Humphrey talked with Dent at length as they sought evidence," the Kansas report stated. "However, he refused to provide specific information regarding his allegation of drug-testing policy irregularities and refused to provide the names of student-athletes he claimed were ineligible.

"Regarding Dent's allegation that the exercise equipment was given in exchange for favorable seating for the co-owners of Medical Outfitters, Patrick Carpenter and Mark Glass, no evidence was found to substantiate this claim. Carpenter and Glass also denied this allegation."

The ticket scandal and controversy over the exercise equipment had caused many Kansas boosters to question Perkins' judgment. There have been calls for his dismissal.

"People keep saying I did something wrong. But I'm the victim in this," Perkins told The Associated Press last week.

A spokesman said Wednesday that Perkins would have no comment.

"We're going to let this report speak for itself," associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said.

The Hummert/Humphrey report said a review of seating records determined that Medical Outfitters had contributed a whirlpool to the athletic department, not to Perkins, and that Carpenter's seats were improved under the school's "points system" for that reason.