Kansas' Perkins may face ethics issue over exercise equipment
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP)
Lew Perkins' acceptance of thousands of dollars of exercise equipment from a private company may create an issue for the University of Kansas athletic director under the state's ethics laws.
Those laws prohibit state employees from accepting most gifts, including loans, from others. They also say people are state employees if they receive part of their regular compensation from state funds - which appears to cover Perkins.
Carol Williams, the state Governmental Ethics Commission's executive director, wouldn't discuss Perkins' situation Wednesday and would not say whether the commission's staff was investigating it.
An employee who violates the gift law can be fined up to $5,000 for a first offense. The law also makes a violation grounds for an employee's dismissal by a supervisor.
Perkins did not attend a meeting Wednesday of Big 12 conference officials in Kansas City, Mo. University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was in London until the weekend, meeting with alumni and other university supporters, spokesman Jack Martin said.
Steve McAllister, a Lawrence attorney representing Perkins, did not return telephone messages left by The Associated Press at his office.
But associate athletic director, Jim Marchiony, told The Associated Press that Perkins doesn't feel like he did anything wrong by accepting the equipment.
"Lew has self-reported the situation to the Kansas governmental ethics commission," Marchiony said. "He does not believe that he violated any rules, but wanted to be above-board so that any questions can be reviewed and put to rest."
Perkins' acceptance of equipment from Medical Outfitters, a now-defunct Lenexa company, surfaced after the university disclosed the results of an investigation into an alleged ticket scalping scheme that may have cost it as much as $3 million.
The investigation concluded that a part-time consultant and five athletic department employees, some top Perkins lieutenants, conspired to acquire basketball and football tickets, then sold them and pocketed the money. The scheme involved nearly 20,000 tickets from 2005-2010.
Then, a former sports medicine director for the university forwarded e-mails to The Topeka Capital-Journal, accusing Perkins of accepting equipment from Medical Outfitters in exchange for giving its owners access to premium men's basketball tickets.
Perkins and the company's co-owner denied that Perkins accepted the equipment in exchange for favors. And the company official told both The Capital-Journal and Lawrence Journal-World that the equipment, for physical rehabilitation, was worth about $15,000.
Even before the e-mails became public, Perkins had filed a report with local police, saying he was being blackmailed.
Newspaper reports said the equipment was in Perkins' home from 2005 into 2009. Medical Outfitters - which also was known by two other names - filed for bankruptcy in 2007, and its assets were sold the following year, according to federal court records.
Perkins appears to fall under the state gift ban because part of his compensation comes from state funds.
The state Board of Regents, which oversees state universities, said during the budget year ending June 30 and the previous one, Perkins received $800,000 in salary, plus an additional $100,000 for media relations work. Of that, about $194,000 came from state funds.
The law dealing prohibiting state employees from accepting gifts applies to loans, gratuities, special discounts, services and other "economic opportunities" if they're given "because of a person's official position."
The law does make exceptions for gifts of less than $40, such as plaques, presented at a public ceremony, or gifts accepted on behalf of the state, if they become state property. The law also allows gifts from relatives or personal friends.