Americans are crazy about their college ball and more than a few colleges earn huge profits from their basketball and football programs. In fact, it is college ball that pays for other college athletic programs that are not as high profile including swimming, fencing, gymnastics, rowing, and many others.
Where there is money you can usually find someone who can’t resist taking some for themselves, as in the case of associate director of athletics at the University of Kansas, Ben Kirtland.
Kirtland and a few other good ol’ boys at U of K, stole over 20,000 football and basketball tickets over a four-year period until they were caught in 2010 by internal auditors and charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and other similar offences. Kirtland and his co-conspirators sold the tickets through brokers causing losses to the school and reaping millions for themselves.
Mr. Kirtland was sentenced to 57 months in jail and ordered to pay $1.29 million in restitution to the university and forfeit $2 million to the government.
The Kirtland’s owned a home valued at $400,000 that was liened by the university to ensure that the Kirtland’s assets were not disposed of in contemplation of the university seizing his assets to pay civil and criminal restitution orders.
However, the Kirtland’s tried to pull a fast one. Ben Kirtland was confronted about the fraud and resigned from the university in April 2010. In November 2010 his wife Mary Jean Kirtland filed for divorce. In February 2011 her husband settled a civil lawsuit with the university, plead guilty to the charges and was well aware of the monetary consequences that would accompany his criminal behavior.
In April 2011 the Kirtland’s executed a settlement agreement that provided for a transfer of the family home to Mary Jean Kirtland. In May 2011 her husband was sentenced.
Ms. Kirtland’s lawyer made an application to release the lien on the home suggesting his client was another victim of her husband’s scheme and that the house transfer was legitimate. The government disagreed and refused to remove the lien.
A lawsuit is now pending against the Kirtland’s for the fraudulent transfer of the home to avoid monetary penalties they knew were coming.
It seems difficult to believe that hundreds of thousands of dollars flew through Mr. Kirtland’s coffers without his wife knowing about it. Or perhaps she was willfully blind?
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang