In the fourth entry of my career — way back in March — I called for Pope Benedict XVI to resign. I guess the pope didn’t get the message or he just ignored my call, as he ignored similar calls from Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, other columnists and commentators and a Massachusetts priest.
Today, I’m calling on KU athletic director Lew Perkins to resign, and I have to tell you I think the odds of Perkins resigning are a lot lower than the odds of the pope resigning. Back in the thick of the new priest sex-abuse revelations, an Irish bookmaker dropped the odds of the pope resigning from 12-1 to 3-1. Anybody who would make such a bet with the odds that low would be crazy.
With Perkins, though, I think the odds of him resigning are even money. (Personal disclosure here: I’m from Kentucky and did not attend KU, MU, K-State or any other Big 12 school.) If you can get odds of 2-1 or 3-1, jump on it. This might even be an “odds-on” situation. (Quick gambling primer here: Odds on means that if you bet a dollar, you get your dollar back but less than another dollar in actual winnings.)
At the track, I usually avoid making odds-on bets. (There’s on old track-side saying about favorites that go off at 3 to 5, “If you’ve got the five, you don’t need the three.”) But in this case, I think I’d wager some money, even with “odds on.” Why? Well, look at the situation. Perkins either is a crook himself or he got taken by a bunch of crooked Okies, all but one of whom he either hired or promoted to jobs where they could slather themselves in illicit gains from the misappropriation of thousands of tickets to big-time athletic events.
It’s very clear that the ticket operation was run like a “candy store,” as the university’s internal report said, and it defies logic that six people, at least, who were involved in the high jinks would be able to give the impression that they were running a tight ship. So even if Lew wasn’t benefitting monetarily from the sale of tickets to brokers (also Okies), and even if he didn’t know exactly what was going on with the ticket operation, he had to know something was fishy. After all, one of the main duties of the guy (or gal) at the top of an organization is simply to watch your employees and to know what they are doing.
Did you notice, though, how Perkins tried to distance himself from the situation, even while accepting responsibility? He said, “I accept responsibility, not for any criminal activity, but because I am the athletic director and it happened during my watch.” Take a a closer look at that sentence. What key word is missing in the first phrase? “Full,” as in “I accept full responsibility.” Because if he had accepted full responsibility, as he should have, he would have to resign.
Look at the second part of the sentence…”it happened during my watch.” It’s a common, catch-all phrase that he would like to have people interpret this way: “It happened over there, while I was over here.” Again, if he had said, “The wrongdoing was perpetrated by people whom I hired and whom I oversee and whose job performance I evaluate,” well…..he’d have to resign, wouldn’t he?
Then, he went on to say something truly incredible: “I thought we had just about every safeguard in place, but nobody picked up on it. I certainly didn’t.”
It’s a good thing I didn’t have a mouthful of cookies when I read that, or the dogs would have been scampering all around the room. Safeguards? The Okies are probably the only people who had the combination to the ticket vault.
At this point, we just have to trust that the Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and members of the university’s board of trustees and major donors to the athletic program see through the smoke that Perkins blew far and wide on Wednesday and that they will come to the conclusion — if they haven’t already – that it’s time for Perkins to depart. Once that happens, they won’t have to fire him. He’ll leave.
And I believe they will come to that decision fairly quickly — at least by the time criminal charges are filed — and that will be the end of what is turning out to be a most disappointing and dishonorable era in KU athletics.
So, readers, get your bets down now. Don’t get shut out, as the railbirds say. With every day that passes, the odds are dropping.