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Kansas Ticket Scandal: Just The Tip of The Iceberg?

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Rock Chalk Jayhawk has been rocked by ticket scalping scandal that the school's own internal investigation reports could reach into the millions.

The report alleges that five former KU athletic staff members sold almost 20,000 basketball and football tickets from 2005-2010, with the estimated value of the tickets possibly reaching $3 million.

Rodney Jones, Kansas' former ticket manager, is at the heart of the scandal. Jones, a KU employee since 1997, was promoted to director of the Williams Educational Fund in 2004, which is the primary venue that Kansas boosters use to contribute money to the athletic department and acquire basketball tickets.

Kansas AD Lew Perkins was notified in late 2009 of an investigation into the illegal sale of tickets reaching back to 2001-03, before Perkins arrived on campus. However, the investigation quickly spread to include illegal sales from 2006 to the present.

The report lambastes the athletics department for creating a culture that allowed high-ranking officials to abuse the ticket distribution system for personal gain. At a press conference yesterday Perkins admitted that the former employees had taken advantage of a "blind spot" in his department’s auditing process.

Kansas officials said they believed that there were no NCAA violations involved with the illegal sales, but this investigation is far from over, and it is out of the NCAA's hands.

David Freeman, a Lawrence real estate developer who said he participated in the scheme, is currently scheduled to begin an 18-month jail sentence on an unrelated bribery charge. Freeman isn't going just yet, because he is talking to FBI and IRS officials about the Kansas ticket scandal.

Freeman told Yahoo! Sports that he, Rodney Jones and high-profile alum Roger Morningstar – the father of Jayhawks guard Brady Morningstar – made hundreds of thousands of dollars scalping tickets during the 2002 and 2003 NCAA tournaments.

There were some other people involved in the scandal, names that weren't mentioned yesterday at the press conference, and it is those other involved that could have far-reaching consequences as the federal investigation moves forward.

First, a little background.


Sonny Vaccaro, the Godfather of Basketball

Sonny Vaccaro started out as a marketing executive for Nike and signed Michael Jordan to his first deal. Vaccaro, who eventually moved on to Adidas and then Reebok, was the first to pay college basketball coaches for exclusive apparel deals and later made similar agreements with universities. He founded the ABCD All America Camp, an elite showcase of high school basketball standouts, which ran from 1984 to 2007. He was the first to put together elite summer circuit basketball teams, paying coaches (who usually had a son who was an elite player) and handing out millions in apparel and shoes.

He is currently on a crusade to get rid of the NCAA/NBA rule that forbids a high school player to jump immediately to the NBA.

He also introduced twin brothers, Dana and David Pump, into the business.


Dana & David Pump have been accused of overseeing the ticket scandal at Kansas.

David & Dana Pump are considered to be two of the most powerful people in college basketball. The duo's company, "ChampSearch", is a consulting firm for coaching searches (they matched Bruce Pearl with Tennessee). They’re also known for youth basketball camps and their Pump N’ Run summer traveling basketball teams, many of which feature some of the most heavily recruited prospects in the nation.

The Pump brothers freely admit that they have long been scalping Final Four tickets. David Freeman says he, Rodney Jones and Roger Morningstar were following the instructions of the Pump brothers when the trio were scalping tickets during the 2002 and 2003 NCAA tournaments.

Freeman said the Kansas operation started in 2002 when the Pumps contracted Roger Morningstar – Freeman’s former business partner – and asked him if he knew how to obtain extra Kansas postseason basketball tickets.

Morningstar has coached some of the Pumps summer traveling teams, one of which included his son, Brady. Since Jones, Freeman and Morningstar allegedly engaged in scalping tickets through the Pump brothers in 2002, those teams financed by the Pump brothers have featured at least nine players who went on to play for the Jayhawks.

Ronnie Chalmers, father of former KU player Mario Chalmers, also coached a Pump summer team before being hired as Director of Basketball Operations at Kansas where he worked from 2005-08.

Jim Harrick, the former UCLA coach who was forced out at Georgia over an academic scandal, is another Pump summer league coach.

When Cedric Dempsey was President of the NCAA he publicly criticized the Pumps for reselling Final Four tickets and tried to stop the flow of NCAA tickets from coaches and school officials to ticket scalpers.

After stepping down from the NCAA, Dempsey became a paid consultant for the Pumps "ChampSearch" company.

No matter what the NCAA does or doesn't do in terms of this particular ticket scandal, this investigation is far from over. David Freeman's talking to the Feds means there are potential federal and state charges that could include theft, tax evasion, money laundering and other crimes.

It also means that the federal government's power of a grand jury subpoena comes into play. And that makes a lot of college athletic officials very nervous.