House committee rejects bonds for KU basketball player apartments

02/14/2014 10:08 AM

02/14/2014 8:46 PM

A Kansas legislative committee put up a roadblock this week to Kansas’ plans to build a $17.5 million apartment complex that would house KU basketball players. But KU officials said they would weigh other options for financing.

The House Education Budget Committee on Thursday rejected the university’s request for $17.5 million in bonding authority to build 66 apartments, with 32 of them to be used by student-athletes.

Two state representatives on the committee voiced concerns, saying the project was extravagant, and the university’s school’s athletic boosters could pay for it.

KU officials say they have lined up donors to fund a portion of the project, but the rest was to be paid for with bonds that would be paid off with revenues from the new apartments. More than half of the residents of the complex would be non-scholarship athletes, in accordance with NCAA rules.

Tim Caboni, KU’s vice chancellor for public affairs, said the university would to seek other ways to finance the project, potentially through the House Appropriations Committee or other legislative options on the Senate side.

“Obviously this is an important project,” Caboni said. “We’re going to take real hard look at what the next steps are going to be.”

The proposed complex — known as the Fieldhouse Apartments — drew approval from the Kansas Board of Regents in January.

According to KU officials, the project, in part, is an investment in the school’s tradition-rich men’s basketball program, specifically in the area of recruiting. KU basketball players currently live in the Jayhawker Towers apartments, and Kansas coach Bill Self said last month that KU’s current housing setup was far behind its biggest competitors.

“There are a range of options for us as we move forward,” Caboni said. “Both on the legislative side, but also there may be other ways in which we can finance the project.”

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