And frankly, that’s still where it still should have appeared. Instead the newspaper of record in Kansas City laid off its top investigative reporter in a combination of retaliation for Dillon speaking to the news media about its controversial Hunger Games layoff strategy and saving a few bucks.
So instead, Dillon’s riveting insightful report about the hypocrisy and folly of the University of Kansas buying a $8,1 million jet for basketball deity Bill Self and it’s sports staffers to impress top athletes to play at KU, appeared in the lowly Lawrence Journal World where a comparative thimble full of reader learned that taxpayers – not KU’s deep pocketed athletics department – are picking up the millions of dollars to operate the pricy plane.
“The Journal World contacted 16 colleges, including the 10 Big 12 schools, the University of Missouri and the University of North Carolina. Only three schools besides KU said they owned planes, and only KU owned a jet.”
More to the point, of the $3.5 million taxpayers spent operating the jet over the past five years, “about two thirds” of that money went for KU coaches and athletics department administrators, Dillon reports.
About $1.5 million went for “medical outreach,” but does KU really need to own a luxury jet to crisscross the state when in many, if not most instances car trips, commercial flights, or even charters would more than suffice?
KU officials called the flights a “good investment,” claiming that taxpayers would not be served by having its highly paid officials waiting in line for their baggage or riding around in cars. Seriously?
That of course ignores that said officials could easily work and conduct business on their cellphones and computers en route like most business people (and private citizens) do.
KU’s athletics department refused to defend specific flights.
Not a big surprise, given that when former athletics director Lew Perkins appeared to many to be forced to retire a few years back, the Star detailed, “Perkins’ expensive taste in travel” and reported that he “frequently took costly flights to games and meetings when he could traveled more frugally.”
Jay Kiedrowski, a senior fellow in the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota had another take on KU’s use of expensive jet travel with taxpayers are picking up the tab:
“The cost can never be justified,” he said. “It falls into the area of a prestige/perk.”
Ditto, added Lawrence McQuillan, a senior fellow and director of entrepreneurial innovation at the Independent Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.
The amount KU is spending to fly on private planes is excessive, McQuillan said.
“This is the taxpayers’ and student dollars that are going to this, and that money needs to be spent wisely,” he said. “They are paying excess costs that doesn’t advance the education mission for the University of Kansas at all…Anyone with common sense would see it as imprudent and wasteful expenditures.”
The flip side of KU’s jet coin; at Mizzou, it’s prez usually flies commercial in the lowly business class.
And nto surprisingly, the biggest user of KU’s jets is Bill Self.
As for how KU paid for the plane, the $8.1 million was provided by a not-for-profit called KU Endowment.
By the way, one KU Endowment’s committee members, Kurt D. Watson owns the company that sold KU a time share interest in another jet that was paid for by a $290,000 “gift” from KU Endowment.
The good old boy action never quits at KU in good, old Lawrence Kansas.