Savvy University of Kansas men’s basketball fans are having lots of fun — but also suffering plenty of heartburn — this season.
Their Jayhawks sit atop The Associated Press Poll, just won their 13th straight conference title and are favored to win the Big 12 postseason tournament that starts Wednesday in Kansas City. (UPDATED: KU lost its first-round game Thursday to TCU.) Bill Self is the Big 12 coach of the year, and Frank Mason is the conference player of the year.
Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!
Unfortunately, Self and some of his players for months also have been in the white-hot glare of local and national publicity for embarrassing actions that have given the program a black eye with some KU alum (like me).
— Josh Jackson last month was charged with damaging a car driven by McKenzie Calvert, a KU women’s basketball player. UPDATED: On Wednesday, Self suspended him for the first game of the Big 12 tourney after he failed to report that he hit a parked car in February.
— Lagerald Vick, according to a university investigation, likely committed domestic violence by hitting Calvert in 2015 in the arm and kicking her in the face.
— Carlton Bragg recently entered into a diversion agreement after being charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
Finally, authorities continue to investigate a reported rape of a 16-year-old girl at McCarthy Hall, the spare-no-expenses, $12 million housing built for the men’s basketball team and a few other male KU students.
Self’s discipline of all three players has been almost non-existent. All remain on the team, reinforcing the anything-goes attitude that permeates so many successful collegiate athletic programs.
Which brings us to KU’s spoiled fans.
They are all around us this year. They love to blindly cheer on the Jayhawks — and will make all kinds of weak excuses for the ugly incidents involving players. Hop on any pro-KU sports fan sites to see this behavior.
Or, go to Twitter. My recent favorite is to see responses to well-reported stories written by The Kansas City Star about KU’s problems.
— David S. Pumpkins (@funkerical) March 4, 2017
— Jarrod Kingston (@jarrodmichael) February 3, 2017
— Coach Trotter (@coachtrotter81) February 25, 2017
Sarcastically, my response: Sure, The Star absolutely “hates” KU basketball. That’s why it created KUhoops.com, which features oodles of coverage of the team.
Fact is, The Star wants the Jayhawks to do well on the court to keep the attention (and clicks on the website) coming. It’s called good business and good journalism.
Know what else is good journalism? Writing about the other, less-pretty side of the KU program, as not just The Star but other media are doing.
It’s the news that spoiled Jayhawk basketball fans don’t want to see. But it needs exposing so people have a fuller picture of what’s going on in Lawrence.
Eventually, all this attention could and should lead to changes in how players are punished at KU and whether they are allowed to stay on the team after engaging in inappropriate behavior.