Sam Zeff

Sam covers education for KCUR. Before joining the station in August 2014 he covered health and education for KCPT.

Sam began his career at KANU in Lawrence. He hosted Morning Edition at WHYY in Philadelphia where he also covered organized crime, politics and government corruption.

The Overland Park, Kansas native has won a National News and Documentary Emmy for investigative reporting, four Edward R. Murrow awards and four National Headliner Awards.  Sam was assistant news director at the ABC station in the Twin Cities, executive producer at the NBC station in St. Louis and executive producer of special projects at the CBS stations in Minneapolis and Kansas City.

Sam was educated at the University of Kansas.

In their last Super Bowl appearance half a century ago, the Kansas City Chiefs achieved an upset in more ways than one.

Not only did they defeat the favored Minnesota Vikings 23-7, the game marked the first big break in law enforcement’s longstanding efforts to bring down the Kansas City mob.

In 2019, 67 guns were seized at security checkpoints at Kansas City International Airport. That is just one shy of the record set in 2017.

But seven years ago that number was just 14. Last year, according to the federal Transportation Security Administration, 48 firearms were discovered by screeners.

When you think back on the Kansas City Chiefs' 51-31 comeback win in the playoffs over the Houston Texans, you might remember Patrick Mahomes rallying his teammates on the sidelines.

Or the Chiefs seven touchdowns on seven straight possessions.

Or even the three touchdowns scored by running back Damien Williams or tight end Travis Kelce's three touchdown catches. 

As you prepare for Sunday's AFC championship game, here are a few tidbits to help.

Who are the Chiefs playing?

Kansas City will line up against the Tennessee Titans, who finished the season 9-7. The Titans got to the AFC championship by upsetting New England in the wild-card game 20-13 and then beating Baltimore 28-12. Both of those playoff games were on a Saturday. Just saying.

In a stinging 48-page investigation, the death of a 19-year-old football player last year at Garden City Community College was blamed on "a striking lack of leadership" by top college officials, including former head coach Jeff Sims.

One of the hallmarks of Kris Kobach's time as Kansas Secretary of State was his power to investigate and prosecute voter fraud. Kobach, who is now running for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate, was the only secretary of state in America with such power.

The lawsuit filed against Kansas Athletics by former head football coach David Beaty can move forward, a federal district court judge ruled Thursday afternoon.

KU moved to have the suit dismissed, but it was apparent from the very start of the hearing in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas, that the judge was disinclined to agree with the university's arguments. "My questions will be pointed," Senior Judge Kathyrn Vratil said as soon as the KU lawyer stood up.

What began as the tragic death of a young football player at Garden City Community College in western Kansas is now a matter for the United States Congress.

The bill filed Friday in the U.S. House would create a commission to prevent "exertional heatstroke deaths among high school and collegiate athletes"— the cause of death for 19-year-old Braeden Bradforth.

What began as the tragic death of a young football player at Garden City Community College in western Kansas is now a matter for the United States Congress.

The bill filed Friday in the U.S. House would create a commission to prevent "exertional heatstroke deaths among high school and collegiate athletes"— the cause of death for 19-year-old Braeden Bradforth.

One year ago a 19-year-old football player from New Jersey arrived in western Kansas to start his dream of playing in the pros. But after just one practice Braeden Bradforth was dead of exertional heatstroke, leaving his family devastated and Garden City Community College (GCCC) to explain how it happened.

“It's like nobody wasn't looking out for him,” said Joanne Atkins-Ingram, Bradforth's mother.

Garden City Community College Trustees voted Tuesday to spend $100,000 on an independent investigation into the exertional heatstroke death of a football player last August.

The family and friends of 19-year-old Braeden Bradforth from Neptune, New Jersey, have been calling for an independent probe since the teen died after a conditioning practice.

Without fanfare, Kansas junior colleges have reinstated a cap on how many out-of-state scholarships they can offer in football.

Removing the cap was denounced by high school coaches and athletic directors around the state when the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC) voted unanimously in 2015 to allow football and basketball programs to have as many out-of-state scholarship athletes as they wanted.

It has been eight months since 19-year-old Braeden Bradforth collapsed and died after a football workout at Garden City Community College (GCCC).

Since then, the college has said little about the teen's death from exertional heat stroke after a grueling practice.

But that wall of silence may be breaking. "Kansas, can you hear me now?" the family's lawyer Jill Greene asked during a town hall meeting Thursday night at Friendship Baptist Church in Asbury Park, New Jersey. "Maybe we have a bad connection. We need to fix that."

THE BRADFORTH FAMILY

A New Jersey congressman says Garden City Community College officials have agreed to meet about the death of 19-year-old Braeden Bradforth, who died of exertional heat stroke after a grueling work out last August. 

Republican Congressman Chris Smith says GCCC President Ryan Ruda has said he will meet with Bradforth’s mother, Joanne Atkins-Ingram.

SAM ZEFF / KCUR 89.3

The lawyer for the family of a New Jersey teen who died after football practice at Garden City Community College says the school continues its lack of transparency about his death. 

Nineteen-year-old Braeden Bradforth died of exertional heat stroke last August after a grueling conditioning practice where players were denied water. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Last August, a mother put her youngest son on a plane in New Jersey bound for Garden City Community College to play football in southwestern Kansas.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas' 3rd District had been in office for less than 24 hours when Republicans came out swinging with an attack ad.

"With her very first vote in Congress, Sharice Davids caved to the party bosses and voted to support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker," says a female narrator, with chilling music in the background.

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, the new congresswoman from Kansas' 3rd District, will meet with Republican Sen. Jerry Moran this week and lobby him to vote for a House bill that would reopen the government, Davids said on Sunday.

(This story was updated at 3 p.m.)

The latest defections from the Kansas Republican Party — two Johnson County legislators — show politicians in some corners of the state trying to catch up with changes in the voters they need to win over.

In quick succession Wednesday morning, Republican moderates state Sen. Dinah Sykes and state Rep. Stephanie Clayton announced they are changing parties.

They followed the path of moderate Republican state Sen. Barbara Bollier, who declared herself a Democrat earlier this month.

The blizzard only lasted a few hours, but it dropped inches of snow and wreaked plenty of havoc Sunday, closing 235 miles of Interstate 70 in Kansas for several hours and playing a role in accidents in Kansas and Missouri.

School cancellations started to pile up Sunday night, including the University of Kansas and UMKC.

Six months ago, very few people in the Kansas 3rd Congressional District even knew Sharice Davids’ name. Now she has made history. Davids is the first openly gay representative in Kansas history. She joins Deb Haaland from New Mexico as the first Native American women in the House.

"We have a chance to reset expectations when people look at Kansas," Davids said to a room full of cheering supporters. "I knew we could do better and we just did."

In the final month before the November elections, Republicans and some Democrats are asking: where is Sharice Davids?

Davids, a Democratic newcomer, seems to be leading the race against Republican incumbent Congressman Kevin Yoder in the 3rd District of Kansas.

Rep. Kevin Yoder acknowledged Wednesday that he may lose his campaign for a fifth term in Congress. “Well, I think we may be the underdog in this race," he said before addressing the Johnson County Bar Association.

However, Yoder suggested his Democratic opponent Sharice Davids is taking the campaign for granted.

Democrat Sharice Davids walloped incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder in fundraising last quarter.

The Davids campaign says the first-time candidate raised $2.7 million between July and September. In that same period Yoder, running for a fifth term in the Kansas 3rd District, raised almost $1.3 million.

With Hurricane Florence bearing down on the Carolina coasts there is now controversy over the transfer of $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. One of the people responsible for this transfer is Kansas 3rd District Rep. Kevin Yoder, who chairs the House subcommittee that oversees the Department of Homeland Security budget.

As of Thursday, the Republican primary for Kansas governor was a long way from being decided.

The punishment was swift for a Republican state senator who crossed party lines to endorse a Democrat trying to unseat Congressman Kevin Yoder.

Sen. Barbara Bollier, a moderate from Mission Hills, Wednesday morning threw her support behind educator Tom Niermann, one of six Democrats running in the August primary.

Johnson County leaders have sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas, demanding he act to prevent families seeking asylum from being separated at the border.

About 50 Republican and Democratic state lawmakers as well as city and county officials signed the letter to Yoder, who is the chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee.

The letter says the Department of Homeland Security is harming children by taking them from their parents.

A pro-gun rally on the south side of the Kansas Statehouse drew about 200 people to Topeka on Friday morning as students around the country walked out of class to protest gun violence.

The rally was organized by the Kansas State Rifle Association and the NRA.

Speakers repeated familiar slogans, arguing that "only a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun," that progressives want to repeal the Second Amendment, and that if people are old enough to serve in the military, they're old enough to conceal carry.

Update March 7 at 4:30 p.m.: Chris Haulmark has dropped out of this race and is now running against state Rep. Erin Davis, according to a Tweet.

The original story appears below.

There is yet another Democrat in the race for Rep. Kevin Yoder’s seat in the 3rd Congressional District of Kansas.

Sylvia Williams from Leawood is the seventh Democrat and second woman in the race.

Like the other six candidates, Williams has never held public office.

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