Disgusted Kansas State football donors threaten to stop giving
Donors upset by secret deal to funnel more than $3 million to former coach
Payments were discovered by accident this month by university lawyers
School must pay a limited liability company established by Prince $3.2 million
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Many Kansas State donors are so disgusted over the secret agreement to funnel more than $3 million to fired football coach Ron Prince they're closing their checkbooks and vowing, "No more."
When Jon Wefald revealed the shocking news to the state Board of Regents on Wednesday, the longtime Kansas State president actually teared up.
As shamed and humiliated as the Wildcats were in the late 1970s when NCAA sleuths caught them hiding 30 football players who weren't supposed to be on scholarship, this may be worse. Now they're reeling over what appears to be a secret sweetheart agreement that former athletic director and longtime Wefald sidekick Bob Krause entered into with Prince.
Discovered by accident this month by university lawyers, the agreement says the school must pay a limited liability company established by Prince $3.2 million starting in 2015. That would be in addition to the $1.2 million buyout he already received after being dismissed last November with a 17-20 record.
It'll be up to the courts to decide how much money, if any, is paid. But there's no doubt incoming president Kirk Schulz and incoming athletic director John Currie have a gigantic problem staring them in the face.
"K-Staters are very surprised and very sad," said Dan Lykins, a prominent Topeka attorney and Kansas State grad. "We're in a mess."
Wefald, who retires next month after 23 years, says he didn't know anything about the agreement until it was accidentally discovered. The university filed suit seeking to escape liability earlier this week, and Krause, who worked with Wefald for 30 years, resigned that day from the position he'd held after stepping down earlier as athletic director.
On Thursday, the university reserved with the state revenue department a company name almost identical to the one Prince used in setting up the company that's supposed to get the money, no doubt a legal maneuver meant to aid their lawsuit.
Prince is now an assistant coach at Virginia and sent word again Friday that he had no comment.
Currie, who was introduced Monday as Kansas State's new AD, did not fly blindly into the storm.
"I was made aware of the situation during the process," he told The Associated Press on Friday. "Beyond that, I can't comment on any pending legal matter."
Currie also sent an e-mail Friday to every athletic department staff member.
"I told them to stay positive. We can't do anything about what happened before," he said. "All we can do is focus on moving forward."
The campus in Manhattan, Kan., is abuzz with speculation over who else might be involved. And why would Krause go behind the back of his boss and longtime friend to funnel more than $3 million to Prince? Was he going to benefit somehow?
Few men are closer than Krause to what Lykins refers to as the Kansas State family. His father-in-law, Jack Vanier, is a huge benefactor and one of the richest men in the state.
"Why in the world would Bob do this?" said Lykins. "It's not like he's a poor man. That's what I would like to ask Bob some day -- `Why in the world did you do this?"'
Prince's name is the only one that appears on the legal document establishing the limited liability company. As filed with the department of revenue, it states:
"The purpose for which the company is organized is to engage in the business of football coaching services and for all such other and further purposes as may be lawfully pursued and are authorized under the act."
As they go about repairing the damage, Currie and Schulz might actually be helped by having no past ties whatsoever to Kansas State.
"They're not bringing any laundry into the mix," said Lykins, a member of the nine-person Kansas Board of Regents. "I think they'll be able to get things worked out a lot quicker and a lot cleaner than somebody who had K-State ties. They both understand we need to make sure problems like this never, ever happen again."
Lykins said he's spoken with many fellow K-Staters who say their donations have stopped.
"But I also talk to K-Staters who tell me they will still give," he said.
People close to Wefald say he has been personally devastated by the actions of a friend and confidant.
"We all have people we trust," said Lykins. "Jon had complete trust in Bob Krause.
"He is very sad. He loves K-State almost as much as he loves his family. It's like somebody punched him in the stomach and he's having trouble breathing."
Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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