Former University of Kansas director of ticket operations Charlette Blubaugh on Thursday became the latest official ensnared in a ticketing scam to plead guilty to conspiracy charges.
"With a click of a computer mouse or a simple visit to the vault, Blubaugh made tickets meant for athletic department donors vanish from view, only to appear later in the hands of outside ticket brokers in Kansas City and Oklahoma," wrote Kansas City Star reporter Mark Morris. "She 'purchased' some season tickets - never paying for them - and had them sent to addresses that she had disguised with names like the Kansas City Women's Clinic."
Blubaugh came to Kansas from the ticket office at the University of Oklahoma on April 15, 2004. The theft of tickets, which totaled $2 million, began the following year. Blubaugh's husband, who served as a consultant to the ticket department, was expected to change his plea to guilty, leaving only Ben Kirtland, a former KU development director, to stand trial. Earlier this month, former KU officials Kassie Liebsch and Rodney Jones plead guilty to conspiracy.
According to the Star, Blubaugh's familiarity with KU's ticketing software, which was the same as that used at Oklahoma, was her primary qualification for landing the job. The software put one individual in control of tickets earmarked for visiting coaches and players and KU donors. Tickets couldn't be tracked, because Blubaugh never entered the information into the system or they were stashed in bogus accounts. From there, they were distributed to other staffers for illegal sale.
An internal athletic department report likened the climate created by Blubaugh to that of an "ice cream store where the employees feel free to sample the wares without paying for them."
As part of her plea, Blubaugh agreed to forfeit, along with others in the case, $2 million and other property purchased with illegal proceeds, the Star reported.