For almost five years, Kansas director of ticket operations Kassie Liebsch worked in close quarters with the five former employees who, according to a university report, were alleged to have illegally sold men's basketball and football tickets.
The report released Wednesday said that Liebsch, hired to work in the KU ticket office in 2005, was told by former director of ticket operations Charlette Blubaugh to "never" tell former head of fundraising Ben Kirtland or former Williams Fund director Rodney Jones "no" when they were searching for extra tickets. Liebsch received two additional complimentary tickets herself and gave those to Jones. The report says that she didn't use those tickets because she was working in the ticket office on game days.
Despite Liebsch's connection to the group that allegedly sold nearly 20,000 tickets worth from $1 million to $3 million at face value, she became interim director of ticket operations after Blubaugh resigned Feb. 3. KU associate athletics director for external relations Jim Marchiony said that Liebsch has since been given that title full-time.
"There was an extensive investigation done," Marchiony said, "and the results of the investigation indicate that Kassie was not involved in the kind of behavior that the others were involved in."
Never miss a local story.
Liebsch could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Jack Focht, the lead investigator from Wichita law firm Foulston Siefkin LLP, said Wednesday that he would be surprised if any current KU staff member were implicated by federal law enforcement officials who are still investigating the Williams Fund and ticket office.
The report says that Liebsch — unlike other witnesses Blubaugh, Kirtland and Brandon Simmons, a former assistant to Blubaugh in the ticket office — was not found to have "engaged in wrongdoing to the detriment of Kansas Athletics." While KU had to cease paying for attorneys for Blubaugh, Kirtland and Simmons when their involvement was discovered, Liebsch was able to cooperate with investigators throughout the process.
Liebsch, according to the report, was of interest to Jones, who had hired a private investigator to try to put Liebsch, Kirtland and Blubaugh "on the same sheet of music." Kirtland told KU athletic director Lew Perkins in early March that Jones wanted to throw Liebsch "under the bus" and for them to say "Liebsch misused the tickets and took the tickets herself."
Kirtland was uncomfortable with that plan.
"Kassie Liebsch was young — she was only 27, she didn't have family, she had her whole life in front of her," Kirtland said, according to the report.
One anecdote from the report demonstrates Liebsch's resistance to the illegal activities going on around her: In 2009, at the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis, Kansas had extra Elite Eight tickets because it lost to Michigan State in the Sweet 16. Two ticket offices were opened — one by Liebsch and the second by Blubaugh. The tickets were sold, and Liebsch brought back to KU a bag containing $3,400 cash. Several times she reminded Blubaugh to turn in her half of the cash, the report said, but Blubaugh did not.