Sunday, July 24, 2005

Booster: Gifts not part of some ‘evil plot’


Kansas University booster Dana Anderson, who returned Friday from his 17-day trip to the Greek Isles, Turkey and some other far-away locales, was not too travel-worn to take time to explain his unintentional violation of an NCAA extra-benefit rule.

"I think we were wrong, and we are sorry about it," Anderson said in a conversation with the Journal-World.

He was referring to small, one-time gifts to graduating men's basketball seniors that he and his wife, Sue, provided for several years with the approval of former KU coach Roy Williams.

"There sure was no intent to do anything wrong," Anderson added. "We would not do anything to hurt the institution or the program. There was no evil plot here to beat the system, undermine the system, undermine the rules or cheat."

The Los Angeles-based Anderson has been one of the biggest supporters of KU athletics for many years.

He said the practice of giving graduating seniors the gifts of $300 or so stemmed from the seniors' yearly barnstorming tours, in which graduating basketball players play exhibition games in several cities after their eligibility is exhausted, charging admission for the games.

At least once, a hat was passed for donations instead of an admission charge.

Anderson believed providing a small gift would, in essence, be the same as providing a donation at a barnstorming game.

"My recollection of how the whole thing started ... I subscribe to the Lawrence paper and see how they barnstorm, and at the end of the game they pass the hat around -- at least in the story I read," Anderson said. "I mentioned it to coach (Williams) about doing something, and he said we could if it was something modest. He said, 'I don't want anything big.'

"I said the concept was to congratulate them on finishing school. The intent was recognition, not massive compensation."

So the Andersons for a handful of years sent a graduation note and gift to the departing seniors.

"If they left early, I wouldn't write them (a check)," he said. "I wrote a personal note to each of the graduates. Even if they were walk-ons, I treated them the same as if they were starters.

"I thought the virtues and qualities displayed being a walk-on were impressive. In my letter, I tried to point out how they showed character being willing to endure all practices knowing they'd play little if any in every game. That was the context of the whole thing."

Anderson never hid the fact he sent the graduation cards. After all, he received permission from KU's coach.

"There was no attempt to be underhanded about it at all," Anderson said. "If anybody was trying to do anything underhanded, they wouldn't send cards in care of the KU basketball office and send copies to the office, which we did.

Anderson added, "The checks were all for the same amount. There was no difference between one player or another."

Boosters Bernie Morgan and Joan Edwards also were included in KU's self report to the NCAA as providing small gifts to graduating seniors.

The boosters acted independently.

"It was an unfortunate misunderstanding, a misinterpretation of what the rules were," Anderson said. "It was not done in stealth mode or collusion. I didn't know the two people were doing what they were. It wasn't a program or system set up to generate funds.

"I don't see this as a monumental thing. If it'd have been an organized campaign where coaches say, 'We want you 75 people to all write checks,' it'd be different, but that of course isn't what happened."

KU also doesn't consider it a big deal. The athletics department instituted no self-imposed sanctions against men's basketball for what is believed to be a secondary violation.

"I can't imagine those checks at graduation would influence a youngster to go to KU instead of wherever," Anderson said. "If coach said, 'You come here and Dana Anderson will send you a check for $300 when you graduate,' it would not be a big deal, anyway."

Anderson said he was not upset at KU for making his name public in the report.

"I'm not. It was true what they said," he said.

Also, Anderson believes athletic director Lew Perkins, "has done an outstanding job at KU. Some people have not been happy with the re-seating of the fieldhouse. There are some situations unfortunate, but some things had to be done if we are to be competitive in the Big 12 as an athletic program. By and large I think we are doing the right things. I am pleased."

And as far as the NCAA's rule prohibiting gift-giving from the time a student-athlete enrolls until the time he dies, Anderson counts himself among the ranks of those who believe it silly.

"I look at John Hadl. We spend time together. It's illegal if I take him to dinner," Anderson said of Hadl, who played football at KU back in the early 1960s. "It seems crazy in a way."

Anderson doesn't think the idea to build football offices at Memorial Stadium is crazy and has offered support to that project.

"I would like to see that football facility become a reality," he said. "I think it'd make a huge difference in competitiveness. It would free up some offices for Olympic sports, better offices for many sports. It would benefit a lot of programs."


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.