KU basketball’s legal woes taint players, Bill Self and police

kuThis is getting ridiculous. While University of  Kansas basketball players have been wildly successful on the court this year, their off-court actions are tainting themselves and others.

Many longtime KU fans are rightly dismayed at what’s going on at the university (my alma mater).

The Kansas City Star and The Lawrence Journal-World this week reported on the latest incident.

Players Lagerald Vick and Josh Jackson are “persons of interest” in the alleged felony vandalism of a car. The vehicle reportedly is owned by a woman whom — The Star reported — was likely the victim of domestic violence committed by Vick, according to an investigation at the university in 2015 and early 2016.

Meanwhile, player Carlton Bragg just days ago received a diversion agreement on a charge of possessing drug paraphernalia. He is suspended from the team.

And police are still investigating the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl in December at a dorm housing the Kansas basketball players.

Reputations certainly are being damaged, though all the evidence is not in yet.

KU coach Bill Self has been a successful and, for the most part, stand-up leader for many years. His players have had a respectable graduation rate.

But Self’s behavior is under closer-than-ever scrutiny now. His reading of a statement about Vick’s problems the other day may have been all he could legally do. Yet it also made him appear to be unsure about what’s swirling around him with his own players, and also called into question his punishment/control of a few players.

As Wichita Eagle sportswriter Bob Lutz put so well, “Self is the most powerful person on KU’s campus, and to see him reading from a prepared statement, clearing up nothing, was disconcerting.”

Self’s suspension of Bragg was the right thing to do, but new questions surrounding Vick and Jackson need to be answered as well.

As for the players, they have the right to make youthful mistakes and not be dragged through the mud. However, they also are pampered students. They have superb living conditions in their own palatial dorm. They have access to trainers and other assistance from the basketball staff, and don’t have to ever worry where their next meal is coming from.

Getting involved in crimes that could lead to felony charges is irresponsible, to say the least.

Finally, law enforcement officials in Lawrence — as in other college towns where nationally ranked sports teams are big deals — are being closely scrutinized for how they are handling the multiple KU-related probes.

So far, the police have been unable to close the case involving the damaged car though it happened almost two months ago in December. That makes it appear, fairly or not, that the police are dragging their heels.

KU fans have high hopes of seeing another NCAA national championship banner hang from the rafters at Allen Fieldhouse.

But the series of legal woes are casting a large shadow over the program right now.


7 Thoughts.

  1. I’m not at all surprised that Jackson and Vick are still playing. My guess is KU and Self will do what they can to drag this out until after the NCAA tournament. Time will tell whether or not they (and the players’ attorneys) can accomplish that.

    One thing I am surprised at is that Bragg is still suspended (as of 2/3/17). I thought that he would be reinstated once the diversion agreement was announced. Maybe there is more to this than just another athlete caught using pot.

    Also remember that this isn’t his first time in the limelight. In December, battery charges against the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Bragg were dismissed when surveillance video showed he was merely defending himself against slapping and choking by a 5-foot-5 woman. At least, that’s the district attorney’s opinion. The public might yet see that video and be able to decide for themselves. As Vahe Gregorian wrote before the dismissal of charges was announced, “turning away, walking away or even running away is the appropriate answer to such a conflict rather than a 6-foot-10, 240-pound athlete standing his ground against a woman.”

  2. For the moment, Carlton Bragg has redeemed himself in the eyes of Bill Self. Self lifted Bragg’s suspension today, and he will suit up (and most likely play) tonight.

    My guess is that this is just an intermission. I’m guessing we’ll keep hearing about KU basketball for things that happen both on and off the basketball court.

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