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.