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Kansas defense of men’s basketball infractions case cost $10 million

Four outside law firms Kansas athletics department used while defending its NCAA infractions case combined to cost more than $10 million, but according to a spokesperson the department assumed all costs related to the case.

The four firms – Bond, Schoeneck & King, Husch Blackwell, Hogan Lovells; and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman – participated across varying times on the case that was resolved in 2023 and concerned both the men’s basketball and football programs. The Kansas public records office provided The Topeka Capital-Journal with an estimate in December of an average of about $2.2 million each of the past five fiscal years and about $70,000 during the current fiscal year, in addition to 1,575 pages of documents related to outside legal fees amassed in relation to the case.

“I think it was obviously pretty established by the time I got to KU, as to the approach and to the notion that we were going to — I don’t want to say spare no resources — but to an extent spare few resources to make sure we had all the right expertise and experience to help us navigate it,” Travis Goff, who became the Kansas athletics director in 2021, said last month. “Going from the NCAA infractions approach to the IARP (Independent Accountability Resolution Process), which was really an unprecedented process, I think warranted additional kind of layers from the legal team perspective.”

Kansas men’s basketball was put on probation and ordered to take down its 2018 Final Four banner as a result of the case, which centered on violations stemming from a 2017federalinvestigation into college basketball corruption. Head coach Bill Self and assistant coach Kurtis Townsend also served a four-game suspension in 2022. The independent panel created by the NCAA to handle complex cases downgraded the most serious allegations lodged against the program. The case involved whether two representatives of apparel company Adidas were acting as boosters when they arranged payments to steer recruits to Kansas. The penalties were not as harsh as the allegations could have brought.

The Topeka Capital-Journal posed the question about whether Kansas athletics received assistance in paying the outside legal fees from university funds because not all the invoices in the documents provided specifically named someone with the department, or even the department itself.

The ones for Bond, Schoeneck & King did. For invoices related to the NCAA men’s basketball investigation, Megan Walawender was mentioned along with a related location. Walawender was referred to as ‘Corporate Counsel for KAI’ and currently on the Kansas athletics website is listed as a deputy athletics director for compliance and legal affairs.

But Hogan Lovells invoices listed the University of Kansas Medical Center and an address in Kansas City, Kansas. Hogan Lovells invoices routinely referenced ‘NCAA Proceeding.’

Husch Blackwell invoices listed an address on Jayhawk Boulevard in Lawrence. Its invoices referenced the NCAA in a few different ways — ‘NCAA infractions – (redacted),’ ‘(redacted)/NCAA’ and ‘NCAA Hearing Football.’

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman listed the same address Husch Blackwell did and went as far as to specify KU’s Strong Hall. There were also times when people affiliated with KU’s legal affairs were named. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman’s work routinely referred to the ‘NCAA Infractions Investigation.’

The Kansas athletics spokesperson’s explanation included that Walawender has also had other responsibilities with the university, other places Walawender has spent time and therefore other places Walawender could have been reached. For example, on the website for KU’s general counsel’s office Walawender is also listed as a senior associate general counsel. That office has a few different locations: two of those are at the addresses Hogan Lovells, Husch Blackwell and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman listed.

Also, each law firm provided the option of paying electronically or wiring funds to pay.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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