Rodney Jones, director of KU's Williams Fund, resigns amid investigations of basketball ticket sales

Williams Educational Fund Director Rodney Jones, who had been placed on leave amid federal and internal investigations at the University of Kansas, has resigned.

Jones, whom KU athletic director Lew Perkins suspended in early March, resigned last week, according to Jim Marchiony, KU’s associate athletics director for external relations.

Marchiony declined to discuss whether the departure was Jones’ decision.

“He resigned,” Marchiony said. “That’s as much as we will say.”

Jones did not immediately return phone calls Wednesday evening for comment.

His resignation follows that of his supervisor Ben Kirtland, the head of fundraising for Kansas Athletics Inc. and the associate athletic director for development, who left on April 5.

Both resignations have come amid an ongoing federal investigation of possibly illegal sales of men’s basketball tickets. After The Star reported on the investigation on March 24, Perkins confirmed that KU planned an internal review as well of the ticket office and the Williams Fund, the primary vehicle that Jayhawk boosters use to contribute to the athletic department and acquire game tickets.

In this system, Williams Fund donors receive points for their donations, and the donors with the most points get the best seats to athletic events.

Jones, 41, was director of KU’s athletic ticket office before becoming in 2004 the assistant athletic director in charge of the Williams Fund.

Sources have told The Star that the federal inquiry appears to be focused on whether NCAA Tournament tickets, and perhaps season-ticket packages, have been taken illegally from the university, possibly for years, and sold through outside channels.

Proceeds could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, sources said.

Jones will continue to be replaced in the interim by Jennifer Berquist, formerly the associate director of the Williams Fund. KU announced in an e-mail to Williams Fund members on Wednesday that Angie Storey, formerly a compliance coordinator, will replace Berquist on an interim basis.

Marchiony said the department’s internal review, which is being conducted by Wichita law firm Foulston Siefkin, is ongoing.

“They’re going to get it done as quickly as they can,” Marchiony said.

KU’s Web site says that 4,200 Williams Fund members contribute $8 million annually to fund all athletic scholarships for about 550 university athletes.