You know, really seriously bullshitting us.
Which is exactly what comes to mind when the just-win-baby types behind the juggernaut that is KU basketball look someone like investigative reporter Karen Dillon in the eye and say something dumb like, spending $1.5 million or more a year bopping around in an $8 million luxury jet is a “bargain.”
Because it enables athletics department officials to kiss enough big donor butt to more than offset the cost of operating the plane. That doesn’t of course address that the $8 million raised by a KU non profit group could otherwise have used the money for something far more mundane – you know, like academic endeavors.
According to Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger, KU basketball coach Bill Self “has said a number of times he couldn’t do it without this tool.”
That’s funny, No. 1 ranked and undefeated Kentucky seems to be able “to do it” without buying and owning a jet.
Here’s the deal…
Undoubtedly after reading Dillon’s expose at Kansas, the Louisville Courier-Journal instituted its own investigation into the air travel of Kentucky basketball and coach John Calipari.
Turns out Calipari is just as active as Self, but he goes the charter route.
Thus instead of tying up $8 million in buying the plane and dropping another $1.5 million a year in operating it, Kentucky got by a year ago for a mere $450,000 – less than a third of what KU spends.
What’s more, “The jet money comes out of the football and basketball programs’ recruiting budgets,” the Courier-Journal reports.
Unlike at KU which cites some FAA loophole that supposedly prohibits “the university’s aviation services from accepting payment from anyone, including KU Athletics, for flights.”
What a bunch of hot air.
Does anybody really believe this deal wasn’t structured for the express purpose of letting the athletics department off the hook?
That way, instead of KU athletics paying their fair share – like Kentucky does – they stick it to the taxpayers instead.
Enabling KU athletics to hang onto the $97 million in revenue it raised last year, and spend it on things like devising schemes to punish KU students for voting to reduce their athletics fees (by a paltry $350,000) so they selling off the prime student seats at basketball games to fat cat donors.
By the way, according to the Courier-Journal, “every Calipari recruiting class at Kentucky has been ranked No. 1 or No. 2 nationally (and) he signed a staggering 23 five-star prospects in his first five classes. No one else even comes close.”
Not even Bill Self and KU with its indispensable, paid for by taxpayers luxury jet.
The other defense offered up by KU aviation director Jeff Long – yep, they even have a paid position for that – is safety.
“Going out to other charter services like KU Athletics occasionally has to do to meet their needs because we’re already busy … is one of those situations where I don’t know exactly how good that program is,” Long says. “Somebody else has called that program safe but the best way to do it is have someone who is familiar with how they run their operation from a safety operational standpoint.”
Of course Long is going to defend KU’s pricey program, without it, his job title and job likely goes away.
But Long’s safety concerns ring hollow when you consider how successful Kentucky has been chartering jets while saving more than $1 million a year (plus Long’s salary probably).
So yeah, owning its own jet and not having to pay for it is a great schmooze for Self, Zenger, Long and everybody else who gets a piece of the action. But calling it a bargain while shrugging their shoulders about taxpayers getting stuck paying all the bills is about as bogus as it gets.
How naive do they think Kansans are?