K-State's Case Against Ron Prince Is Looking Weaker

For more on K-State, check out Bring On The Cats.

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What Is KSU's Angle In The Ron Prince Case?

As the case between Ron Prince and K-State rolls on I'm becoming increasingly interested in the role of those on the K-State team. The evidence we've seen from both sides suggests K-State has a long, long way to go in this case.

That's why I'm interested in who's running the show over there. What do they see that we don't?

Pete Paukstelis is the deputy university counsel at K-State and helping run the litigation there. There are a couple of interesting things about him and why I bring his name up.

First, he's one of the few holdovers from the prior regime. Most key players in this case -- Jon Wefald, Bob Krause, Tim Weiser and Jacque Butler as well as the two assistants Jim Epps and Bob Cavello -- are gone. He understands KSU's side very well.

Second, he was in charge of Butler. She's the one that reportedly took out key language in Prince's contract that allowed the Memorandum Of Understanding to exist as part of the contract. This is one of the biggest flaws in KSU's case, in my opinion, and it came from someone under Paukstelis.

Butler is also the woman that gave permission to Prince's agent -- in an email that's on the record -- to speak directly to Krause about Prince's contract. Paukstelis has gone on the record to say Prince's agent was violating some ethical rules for speaking directly to Krause....even though Butler had given Prince's agent permission to do so.

Third, he would seem to be at risk of hurting his reputation at the school if KSU loses this particular case. He has family (mother) that teaches at the school so it would appear that he's got quite a bit to lose if this very, very public case doesn't go his way.

Fourth, he reportedly helped set up a LLC with a competing name as the one in which Prince set up apparently in an effort to pay the school on a technicality.

For some background, Prince set up a LLC, which was common at K-State (Wefald, Krause and Snyder had done the same so Prince might have taken their advice to create one), called IPP (In Pursuit of Perfection). He set this up at the end of the 2008 season.

Fast forward to when Paukstelis and the KSU attorneys saw the MOU. After that, he apparently created a LLC with a similar name. Why? I can't completely answer that but one theory floating around is that he wanted to essentially take the naming rights to the LLC Prince created and pay himself (or KSU).

If that were Paukstelis's intentions, it would be an implicit admission that the MOU was a valid agreement. But, we can't say for certain if that was his intention.

KSU has a team of lawyers that are in on this but Paukstelis's fingerprints are all over it which is why he's an interesting character in this. I'm just not sure I understand Paukstelis's and KSU's angle with this. The facts and reports that I've seen floating around just don't add up.

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K-State's Case Against Ron Prince Is Looking Weaker

The situation with Ron Prince and K-State is getting worse and worse for the university. Austin Meek of the Topeka Capital Journal issued a report last week that one of the lawyers who repped K-State in contract negotiations with Prince "removed key safeguards" in the contract.

Those safeguards, which lawyer Jacque Butler now says were done hurriedly, allowed for the creation of the memorandum of understanding, which is the heart of the legal battle between K-State and Prince.

"I was directed to make specific changes and I just didn't consider what those were," Butler said during a May 12 deposition obtained by The Topeka Capital-Journal.

You read the full report from Meek which goes on to suggest that K-State's case is getting weaker and weaker but here's one part I haven't seen a lot of folks pick up on.

Krause, as the athletic director at the time, was by many accounts under his authority to negotiate that contract. Other than the fact that he was, you know, the athletic director responsible for hiring the coach, K-State bylaws appear to indicate that Krause had the authority to negotiate the deal.

Here's the relevant portion of the K-State bylaws: "The President and CEO of the Corporation is authorized to enter into any contract or execute and deliver any instrument in the name of and on behalf of the Corporation."

My nifty legal translator spit this out: "We pay this guy a lot of money so we'll let him negotiate contracts."

After this Prince mess transpired, K-State went back and, with the help of some nifty legal language that confuses the hell out of reporters just like me, tweaked the language to indicate that the AD (Krause) would need an additional signature from a top university official to negotiate a contract like Prince's.

The language I quoted above seemingly indicating Krause's authority to negotiate contracts on behalf of the school does not appear in the new bylaws.

That K-State went back and switched the language to protect themselves would imply that there was something wrong with the original language.

Like maybe the original language said the AD could act on his own authority and negotiate a contract with, say, the head coach.

If you want a simple explanation of what I feel has transpired, here it is: Prince's reps negotiated a hell of a deal, K-State knows it, and now they want out.

Time will tell who's right on this one.

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The Crazy Story Of Former Kansas State Coach Ron Prince's 'Secret Agreement'

If you haven't heard the story of former Kansas State head coach Ron Prince's contract, then you're missing out.

The players at the time were:

  • Head coach Ron Prince (looking for a contract extension)
  • Athletic director Bob Krause (negotiating Prince's new contract)
  • President Jon Wefald

The Topeka Capital-Journal has the full story which comes from recent depositions.

Basically, Krause helped negotiate a "secret agreement", or contract, that would give Prince deferred payments in 2015. Krause did this agreement secretly and now the agreement is being challenged legally on the basis that Krause acted outside of his authority in the negotiations.

(Wait a minute...the AD hires the coach, right?)

Here's how the story goes...

Tim Weiser was the AD before Bob Krause and had been negotiating a new deal with Prince before leaving the University. Upon taking over, Krause was told by then-president Jon Wefald to get some sort of deal done quickly.

Wefald, who supported the guaranteed contract, wanted Krause to work quickly. Wefald and Krause felt it was important to resolve the contract issues before the 2008 football season, and they were concerned about negative publicity stemming from former Wildcat Leon Patton's legal woes. Patton, a running back who played two seasons for Prince, was being investigated on child abuse charges, and Wefald feared a public backlash if the story broke before Prince's contract was finalized.

Prince and Krause were negotiating and it took a while because Prince wanted a fully guaranteed deal.

So Krause thought of doing a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) that would include deferred payments to Prince starting in 2015 (a/k/a the "secret agreement") to get around Prince's demands.

Krause mentioned the idea to Wefald in passing, who really only seemed to care about getting some sort of deal done quickly. Krause also brought in two top aides to discuss it.

Cavello, who oversaw athletic department finances, raised reservations about the contract extension and the deferred compensation agreement, but the three eventually reached a consensus.

"My sense was that after the analysis that we were all in agreement," Krause said.

Krause wrote the MOU himself, had Prince sign it, then did not share the MOU with anyone else (not even Wefald) and locked it up away from public consumption. He had Wefald sign the public contract.

Of course the inevitable happened: Prince flopped the next season leading Wefald to demand he be fired on Nov. 2008.

So here sits Krause talking with Wefald about the "secret agreement" dilemna. Krause agreed to travel to Prince's Virginia home (on his own dime) to try and fix it because no one knew about the "secret agreement (a/k/a MOU).

Well, his way of fixing it is, well, untraditional:

In Charlottesville, Krause made an offer: If Prince agreed to nullify the buyout agreement, Krause would purchase an insurance policy on his own life and designate Prince as the beneficiary.

Umm...would that be itemized on the university's taxes?

Of course Prince said no to that.

Once the public found out about the MOU, K-State had some explainin' to do.

"This deal was apparently constructed as a further supplement to the buyout provision contained in Prince's employment contract," said Epps, K-State's interim athletic director at the time. "I do not know why any additional supplement was justified, or why Bob Krause concealed this agreement from everyone until it was inadvertently discovered last week."

Of course Epps was one of Krause's "two aides" that helped with the contract and the MOU.

So basically K-State is kind of screwed.

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