Prime seats lost in namesake's house

Updated: November 12, 2003, 1:30 AM ET
Associated Press

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- The grandson of legendary University of Kansas basketball coach Forrest "Phog" Allen lost his prime seats at Allen Fieldhouse, and he isn't sure how long he'll be able to keep the new seats he was given seven rows higher up.

"I can't say for sure, but there's a possibility that we'll either lose or have to give up our tickets -- tickets that have been in our family since 1955," Allen said.

Allen's grandfather coached for 39 seasons at Kansas, where he compiled 590 victories and a national championship in 1952. And Phog Allen is the namesake for the fieldhouse.

Allen said his four tickets -- fourth row, across from the Kansas bench -- were in jeopardy because university policies prohibit sons and daughters from inheriting their parents' tickets.

Allen's father, longtime Lawrence city attorney Milton "Mitt" Allen, died in 1988. When his mother, Isabel Allen, died last spring, the family's tickets went up for grabs.

Allen said he's not bitter over being moved from his previous seats, but he's a bit miffed about how the change came about.

"What happened was they sent me the order form like they had before and I sent in the $2,400 for four tickets," said Allen, who said he has missed no more than four or five games since 1970. "Several weeks went by and I noticed the check hadn't cleared, so I called and they said this was a change-of-ownership situation and that a committee would determine who would get them.

"I was told someone would be getting back to me," he said. "But another four weeks went by and I still hadn't heard anything, so I called again. And that's when they told me my seats had already been sold."

He said he wasn't given the opportunity to match or bid against the new ticket holder's offer.

"That hurt, definitely," he said. "You know, I can understand why they did it, and I know they need the money -- I am not naive about this. But it was handled in such an almost-cavalier manner. That's what bothers me."

He said he's not sure if he would be able to keep his tickets next year if the Kansas Athletic Corp. follows through on plans to adopt a point system for determining who is sold which tickets.

Though the switch is only in the discussion stage and has not been approved, several season ticket holders, including Allen, have been told to expect to pay $5,000 for every pair of season tickets in the prime seating area and $10,000 for every four tickets.

Earlier this year, 121 season ticket holders who had fallen behind in their payments to the Williams Fund were sent letters telling them they had to put up $5,000 or $10,000 to keep their seats. Five of those 121 are plaintiffs in a lawsuit accusing the corporation of abusing its authority.

If he's pressed for $5,000, Allen, an attorney in private practice, said he would try to come up with the money, but he didn't know for how long.

Jim Marchiony, associate director of athletics at the university, said he looked into the handling of Allen's season tickets and came away with the impression that Allen "was taken care of very, very well."

Allen insists he wasn't mad.

"It was handled in a way that, for me, was hurtful," he said. "And he is right, I was taken care of, and I'm not alienated from the university. I'm not mad, and if they go to the $5,000 deal -- I'll still be a fan, a huge fan. But it will be difficult to be as unequivocal about the Jayhawks as I am now."

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press