Kansas State suspends Epps, Cavello

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas State suspended two longtime athletic administrators Wednesday but refused to say why.

Speculation immediately arose whether the suspension with pay of Jim Epps and Bob Cavello had anything to do with the controversial and allegedly secret agreement to funnel $3.2 million to fired football coach Ron Prince, which the school has challenged in court.

When asked by The Associated Press if the suspensions were related to the Prince controversy, athletic director John Currie referred to a one-paragraph statement the school was in the process of sending out.

"What I can tell you is all I can tell you," Currie said in a telephone interview. "The second sentence of our statement is pretty instructive."

The second sentence states, "This decision is not based upon any concerns about misconduct on the part of either individual."

Epps is a 30-year member of the Kansas State athletic department and currently in charge of daily internal operations as deputy athletic director. Cavello is the associate athletic director for business operations.

Currie, who became athletic director this week, declined further comment.

The Prince agreement has rocked the school and put many people, including Currie and incoming president Kirk Schulz, in an awkward position. Both newcomers to the state without any ties to the school, they must go about building relationships and soliciting donations from alumni and fans while the school may be forced to pay more than $3 million to an unpopular former coach who was fired with a losing record. Prince, who was fired near the end of the 2008 season, received a $1.2 million buyout upfront.

Outgoing Kansas State president Jon Wefald maintains the agreement was done in secret by Prince, his agent and former athletic director Bob Krause.

When the agreement was made public on May 20, Krause resigned his position as head of the school's auxiliary campus in Olathe, Kan. A right-hand man to Wefald for more than 30 years, Krause has not commented publicly since he abruptly resigned.

Neil Cornrich, Prince's agent and attorney, maintains the agreement was not done in secret and will withstand any legal challenge.

"Not only is it inaccurate to claim that this was a secret agreement, but also it makes no sense since the contract was mutually agreed upon, signed and legally binding," Cornrich has said.