By Jared Janzen
BURRTON—Wichita Force owner Jeff Martin appeared on the KFH Sports Radio show on Thursday morning, where he offered an explanation of why Burrton and Clearwater bands never received their prize money from a Battle of the Bands competition in 2019. Martin was asked on the radio show if those bands would receive their money.
“Yes they will. They’ll see it today,” Martin said, adding that he’d write a check for both bands that day.
“At the end of day, we can talk about turnover and old employees and this, that, and the other, but at the end of the day, the buck stops with me, and it’s all about the kids.”
But as of Friday morning, Burrton band director Mark Robinson said he was still waiting on the money and that the school had not been contacted by the Force.
“My boss told me not to give up until we check the mail on Monday,” Robinson said. “I think he would have contacted us directly to say the check is in the mail. That way we could make this media storm against him go away. But crickets on his end.”
The Harvey County Now made phone calls to Martin and the Force’s office on Friday morning, but those calls were not answered. Other media outlets that have picked up this story have also reported having difficulties contacting the Force on this issue.
On KFH Sports Radio, the one place Martin has commented publicly, he attributed staffing turnover and poor communication as reasons the bands had not been paid. The Battle of the Bands competition was organized by a previous general manager, he said.
“At the end of the season there was a winner, which I was told was Burrton and second was Clearwater,” he said. “Other than that, I was misinformed that things were taken care of, but obviously they were not taken care of. We could go through the long and short of it, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. The buck stops with us, and we will take care of it.
Martin was asked when he had learned about the problem of the bands not having received their prize money. He replied “a couple weeks ago,” which happens to be the time that the Harvey County Now started leaving messages with him.
“I started doing my research, talking to ex-employees about how this problem occurred,” he said. “Unfortunately we work with quite a bit of turnover. […] It’s not until you dive into things that you find out you’re misled on things,” Martin said. “I can point the finger here, there, everywhere, but at the end of the day, it has to point at me.”
Martin was also asked Thursday morning why he hadn’t reached out to the schools yet.
“The media seems to have flood my inbox and my time, so I figured I would get the media out first before I talked with the school districts,” he said.