A free loan of an estimated $15,000 in exercise equipment is at the center of the Lawrence Police Department's investigation into the alleged blackmail of Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins, according to Mark Glass, a former co-owner of the now-defunct Lenexa-based Medical Outfitters.
Glass told The Star on Monday that his company — which had done business with Kansas Athletics Inc. —loaned Perkins the equipment in 2005 so that he could perform physical therapy related to a surgery from his home. Glass said he did not expect Perkins to pay on the loan — a practice he said his company used regularly to let potential customers try out the equipment before purchasing it. Glass said Medical Outfitters went bankrupt in 2007 and therefore no longer had a claim to the equipment.
Glass said he was approached by former KU director of sports medicine William Dent, his direct contact in the athletic department, about loaning the equipment. KU associate athletics director for external relations Jim Marchiony confirmed to The Star Monday that it was Dent who had been attempting to blackmail Perkins, who filed a police report April 16.
Dent resigned from KU in Nov. 2007, a month before he was scheduled to appear in court for two counts of aggravated assault and one count of criminal threat relating to an April 2007 domestic incident.
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The Topeka Capital-Journal reported Monday that Dent has been communicating with Perkins through Perkins' attorney, Stephen McAllister, for more than a year. Dent is accusing Perkins of accepting $35,000 of exercise equipment in exchange for securing premium men's basketball tickets for the equipment company's owners.
Dent alleged in the report that Glass and co-owner Patrick Carpenter, $5,000-per-year donors to the Williams Fund, were awarded seats in section six at Allen Fieldhouse, which is at midcourt and the second section back — tickets that should not have been available to $5,000 donors, according to Dent.
Glass told The Eagle his seats that year were nowhere near where Dent alleged. Glass remembers the four seats being near the baseline behind the Kansas bench and approaching the top of Allen Fieldhouse.
Dent could not be reached for comment by The Eagle.
The Capital-Journal obtained e-mails and letters that show Dent threatened to go public with the alleged ticket swap if he did not receive compensation for the cost of storing the equipment (Dent had taken the equipment back from Perkins in April 2009 and was storing it in Topeka, according to the newspaper).
On April 15, 2010, Dent e-mailed McAllister, saying that he was going to go public with his information. According to the newspaper, Dent received a certified letter from McAllister the same day saying that Perkins was cutting off communication and had gone to the police.
McAllister, reached by The Eagle on Monday, said he would offer no comment other than "that Lew is the victim in this situation."
The details of the blackmail case emerged just days after KU released a report detailing the results of its two-month independent review of the Williams Fund and the KU ticket office. The report revealed that five former KU employees and a consultant sold nearly 20,000 men's basketball and football tickets worth $1-3 million for personal profit during 2005-10.