Let’s’s talk a little sports business and KU, shall we?
With Missourian-turned-Kansan John Kiefer of Kiefs Audio Video fame in Lawrence. Kiefer’s been a Lawrence business and real estate fixture for more than half a century even though he was born and raised in good, old KCMO, so he brings a balanced perspective to the area Big 12 basketball, football and culture wars.
For starters, why does Manhattan, Kansas suck so bad?
"You have to go back to 1959," Kiefer says. "In 1959 Aggieville should have been called Downtown Manhattan."
Kinda like downtown Lawrence is called Downtown Lawrence.
"When you have half your population as students like Lawrence and Manhattan, they decide where they want to hang out," Kiefer says. "But they decided to call it Aggieville and the problem was, all they had there then was a bunch of shit kicker bars and country music. So while KU was lsitening to blues, soul and jazz back then, K-State was listening to country music. And they called K-State Silo Tech back then. What does that tell you? And KU used to be known as Berkley on the Kaw. It’s not as prominent now, but it’s still Silo Tech."
In other words, K-State hasn’t quite caught up to KU in hipness and worldiness yet?
"No, not at all," Kiefer says. "I mean, it’s a fine school…"
A school still trying to live down its rep as a hick haven, courtesy of the Aggieville tag.
How about Missouri?
"I’m a Missouri kid and Columbia’s a Missouri town and that’s where I met Sam Walton," Kiefer says. "But it’s kind of a wide spot on I-70"
Translation: Slightly better but about the same as K-State.
Going forward, will MU be better off in the SEC or not?
"That’s an interesting question," Kiefer says. "And my honest opinion is, no. I think Missouri made a poor decision leaving the conference. I mean, it may have been good financially.
"But the worst thing that happened was when Missouri started playing KU in Kansas City in 2006. They lost the school spirit and that damage was done. Think about it, who in the hell in Florida wants to fly into Columbia to watch football? It doesn’t make sense.
"And think about why would Kansas want to play Missouri now after they left us? Fuck ’em. I wouldn’t walk across the street to watch Missouri play and everybody I know in Lawrence says the same thing."
How about playing again, down the roadm after the hurt feelings subside and fans forget?
"People don’t forget certain things," Kiefer says. "If the money’s there, yes – follow the money – but if they do, you will see a big uprising against it."
Any sympathy in LA for the KU ticket embezzlers, one of whom is trying to weasil out of his sentence?
"I think they got everything they deserved – they cheated," Kiefer says. "They cheated the people of Lawrence who couldn’t get a seat to the basketball games. And it’s hard for me to imagine that somebody could steal that many tickets ($2 million) and the athletic director didn’t know what happened. Give me a break!"
Speaking of which, how do folks feel about gone and almost forgotten KU athletics director Lew Perkins?
"As an athletic director he brought our stadiums and facilities up to the highest level," Kiefer says. "Other than that, I don’t know what he did. He didn’t hire Bill Self, he hired Turner Gill, but everybody I’ve ever heard talk about him says he collected a ton of money from the alumnae."
Now here’s what Kiefer and Lawrence Journal World publisher Dolph Simons know that most KU fans don’t.
Because of Perkins heavy-handed extorting of big bucks from alums and local supporters for basketball and football tickets, a number of unassuming but rich-as-cream folks wrote KU out of their wills.
The kind of people who live unassuming lives but are sitting on millions and had planned to leave vast chunks of their wealth to KU.
Take the older woman Kiefer knows personally who had basketball tickets she was letting her grandson use and had planned on leaving KU a cool $12 million. However after Perkins bumped grandma out of her seats because she wouldn’t write a six-figure check to the athletics department for Perkins point system, she pulled the plug on the $12 million donation.
"It was already in the KU endowment and she pulled it out," Kiefer says. "But that endowment was not going to go to the athletic department, it was going to go to the university."
Kiefer’s bottom line on not-so-sweet Lou:
"I have yet to hear one single person say, ‘God, we lost Lew Perkins!’ There’s been no comment on Lew Perkins. If they don’t say something negative, they don’t say anything."