Wednesday, May 2, 1956
Tuesday's NCAA action against Kansas University amounts to a censure, not a suspension or punitive action of any kind. And despite a flurry of wild rumors, KU's athletic competition will not be altered in any way during the year the school will be on probation for alleged recruiting violations.
This means simply that KU will NOT be barred from contests in any sport or NCAA-sanctioned tournaments, if it should qualify for the latter. Futhermore, the football team can compete in the January, 1957, Orange Bowl game if it can win first or take second to Oklahoma in the 1956 Big Seven Conference race. Actually, KU's "violation" is one of the mildest on record.
Close Checkup For Year
The NCAA Infractions Committee has placed the school on probation for a year's period, beginning now, for reported recruiting violations connected with basketball. During that time, the school's athletic policies and operations will be closely scrutinized. If there is any cause, action will be taken and thes chool's NCAA status could be jeopardized. If not, the probation will be lifted.
Kansas State College and Oklahoma, two more Big Seven schools, only recently were placed in a similar predicament - K-State for basketball recruiting violations during the reign of coach Jack Gardner and Oklahoma for allegated mispractice in its football operation. K-State's probation since has been lifted while Oklahoma currently is in the second year of a two-year probationary period.
The NCAA cited KU on two charges: (1) Transportation to and from the campus for a prospective athlete and (2) knowledge of an offer of outside financial assistance to the same athlete. KU readily admits the former act, and gives the circumstances surrounding it. The school and the persons involved emphatically deny the second charge. The boy involved is Kent Bryan, former Westport High School star in Kansas City, Mo.
Can't Pass the Test
Bryan, a 6-8 center, first said he wanted to come to KU but then could not pass the local entrance examination. He then went to St. Louis U., dropped out after a semester and now is enrolled at Wyoming University. St. Louis also recently was placed on probation for its relationship with Bryan. There are informed sources who contend that Missouri University, a Big Seven neighbor, had a hand in both probes - KU and St. Louis. Missouri long has been recognized as a self-appointed Big Seven area "watchdog."
Kansas does not try to deny that the offer of aid to Bryan might have been made by someone outside the family, but the school does deny it had any knowledge of it. Reportedly the offer to aid the boy until such time as he could qualify for an athletic scholarship was made by a Kansas City doctor. Under NCAA rules, an athlete can receive aid only from his immediate family, from a scholarship or from a job at which he works. Nobody outside the family is allowed to afford such aid.
Allen Admits the Trip
In the case of the transportation, Phog Allen, retiring KU basketball coach, readily admits he brought Bryan to and from the campus in the summer of 1954 to take an entrance examination, after Bryan's car broke down. Allen says Bryan called him to inform him of the breakdown and Allen adds he went to Kansas City to get the boy and bring him here. He later took Kent home, after informing Kent's mother the boy had failed the examination.
NCAA rules forbig such transportation by a member of an athletic staff and Allen says he was unaware of the rule at the time.
"Yes, I took Kent Bryan from Kansas City to Lawrence for an entrance examination at the University of Kansas after his car broke down," Allen says. "I then returned him to Kansas City so that he could go to work on time.
"I did not know at the time that this was an infraction of the rules, although perhaps I should have. Ignorance of the law excused no man. I was frank to tell the NCAA Infractions Committee that I did this. I have no apologies to offer.
To KC on March 16
Allen, KU athletic director A.C. (Dutch) Lonborg and Dick Harp, then Allen's assistant who will succeed Allen as KU head coach, appeared before the NCAA Infractions Committee in Kansas City on March 16. At that time, Allen admitted the transportation incident but he and Lonborg both denied knowledge of the alleged offer of outside aid as did Harp. It was from this hearing that Monday's probation action resulted.
Lonborg has reiterated KU's denial of the second charge. He has stated he realized the youth's scholastic record did not merit an athletic grant. Lonborg called Bryan to tell him he would have to work his way through school until he qualified for a scholarship. The boy never did enroll or make application for enrollment at KU.
Statement by Chancellor
Also commenting on the matter was Dr. Franklin D. Murphy, KU chancellor, who issued the following statement Tuesday night:
"The University of Kansas has been aware of the fact that for the past year the NCAA has been investigating an alleged violation of the rules by the head basketball coach (Phog Allen), stated to have occured in the summer of 1954. During this investigation, the University has made available to the Committee on Infractions of the NCAA all material and personnel requested.
"The first charge, that of transportation of a prospective student to this campus, was freely admitted by the University. The circumstances, which seemed mitigating, involved the transportation by the head basketball coach of the student to the University to take an official examination, after the coach learned that the boy's car had broken down. The examination was planned in advance and difficult to change.
"The second alleged violation involved the assertion that a friend of the student offered financial aid to him in violation of the rules and with the knowledge of the head basketball coach (Allen) or under circumstances of which he should have been aware. This the coach has denied.
"It is also on the record that through the press in the summer of 1954 the director of athletics (Dutch Lonborg) at Kansas learned of the intetion of the boy to attend KU. Knowing that this boy had failed to meet the official requirements for financial aid, the director immediately advised the boy and his family that if he proposed to attend the University of Kansas financial support could come only from the family or through a bona fide job.
"The central fact in this entire situation is that the boy never enrolled in this University, or never applied for admission."
Flood of Wild Rumors
Immediately after the Tuesday night announcement that KU had been placed on NCAA probation - along with Texas A&M and Mississippi College - reports began to circulate that KU was suspended from the NCAA and banned from any type of collegiate competition for a full year. Those fears were quickly allayed by athletic director Lonborg and Chancellor Murphy. They met at lonborg's residence and calmly answered the flood of calls that poured in, setting various reporters straight on the complete story and the significance of the NCAA step.
Indications are the KU Athletics Department will continue to operate exactly as it has in the past, despite the fact such operations will be under the close scrutiny of the NCAA. Lonborg and Murphy declare the school has done nothing to be ashamed of but that it is willing to accept the judgement of the NCAA, regardless of what they might personally think.
The chancellor and director believe there are mitigating circumstances in the case of the transportation of Bryan to and from the campus - especially since the boy's car broke down and he called for help. However, by the strict letter of the law, there has been a violation and so the school is willing to suffer the consequences. As for the knowledge of the offer of aid, there is firm denial of that.
Censure is Emphasized
"I think it should be emphasized that this is purely a sensure, not a punishment," Dr. Murphy said late Tuesday. "It certainly will cause no drastic revision of our athletic policies and operations. If the NCAA believes we have violated rules then we will have to make sure we do not violate those rules again. It is as simple as that.
"As for any fears that we might break other fules, I have none, for I have complete confidence in athletic director Lonborg and his staff. This is one of those little storms everyone likes to avoid, but now that it has come we must weather it - sadder but wiser."