Tuesday, April 7, 2009


KU softball deserves upgrade


Glen Mason may not have been the most popular football coach in Kansas University annals. Mason could be gruff at times, downright surly at others.

But I respected Mason from the start. Why? Because he inherited the worst collection of college football talent I ever saw, and he never complained.

During that dreadful 1-10 season in 1988, Mason never made excuses. He never whined it wasn’t his fault. He never blamed anything on his predecessor.

Mason’s inflexible aversion to blame-placing came to mind not too long ago when Kansas Athletics Inc. announced plans to build an Olympic Village north of 19th Street.

According to an external gender equity report from a consulting firm — what would we do without consulting firms? — Kansas Athletics Inc. has fallen behind in women’s athletic facilities “because they were neglected by the previous athletic administrations.”

Previous administrations? Ah, the blame game. Hey, it’s not the current regime’s fault. It was those darned myopic people who preceded them. Or is that report a half-truth?

In my opinion, baseball-softball is the most glaring of the sports gender inequities on campus today.

In the last few years, additions to baseball’s Hoglund Ballpark include an indoor batting facility and, new this year, a plush clubhouse plus a gathering area for donors much like the swanky Naismith Room in Allen Fieldhouse.

Meanwhile, across the parking lot, softball’s Arrocha Ballpark has had one upgrade since it opened five years ago. Lights were installed last year. That’s it.

When Kansas City businesswoman Cheryl Womack announced she would donate $2 million to build a new softball facility in November of 2002 — under the previous administration, incidentally — everyone thought that would be enough money to build a complete stadium.

Unfortunately, providing adequate drainage for the new facility cost more than expected. Thus Arrocha Ballpark opened in March of 2004 with no permanent seats, rest rooms or concessions. And no press box. But even a half-built facility was better than Jayhawk Field, the rudimentary high school-ish KU softball home since 1985.

Now here it is five years later and, except for the lights installed last spring, Arrocha Ballpark looks the same as it did the day it opened. Arrocha still has portable seats, rest rooms and concessions. And a make-shift press box under a tent.

Needless to say, the KU softball team doesn’t have its own indoor batting practice area or fancy clubhouse, either.

KU’s soccer program also could use an upgrade, but it’s difficult to make gender equity facility comparisons when Kansas does not field a men’s varsity soccer team.

Also included in this proposed Olympic Village is a track facility which, as far as I’m concerned, should be at the bottom of the list as long as Hershberger Track in Memorial Stadium remains a viable option, even if it is one of the few ovals in a BCS school’s football facility.

Still, softball should be the priority. Softball has been neglected for too long and not just by previous administrations.


Bill Kackley 11 years, 4 months ago

Your probably right but if you have ever been to Missou you will see an outstanding soccer/track facility. As a Jayhawk it makes me sick to see how much better Missou soccer is treated than KU soccer.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 11 years, 4 months ago

I think we need to learn the difference between "deserve" and "entitlement". You deserve it when you've raised/earned the money to pay for your own upgrades. You are entitled when those mean, selfish sports that actually make money haven't given enough of their money to the money losing sports...

tennesseest 11 years, 4 months ago

The new Olympic Village includes extreme renovations to the softball field. It creates a new stadium style soccer field. It creates a top-notch track and field facility. More importantly it allows the lowering of the football field, adding seats, creating a better game-atmosphere, and making KU football a more legit contender in the Big 12. Looks like "Kansas Athletics Inc.", as you call it, is doing a good job developing future Kansas athletes and facilities. Sounds like nit-picking to me. P.S.: What about the new boat house on the KS river?

Patrick Bryant 11 years, 4 months ago

It is time for a softball overhaul. KU has had some recent talent despite the lack of an adequate facility. I have 2 daughters who love softball and I want them to dream of playing at KU instead of ASU, UCLA and the rest of those universitites that support women's softball. You, who can only speak of revenue generating sports obviously do not have daughters who love athletics and want the opportunity to play college sports just like the boys.

kymock 11 years, 4 months ago

Wow, it's pretty bold to propose these improvements the week after they're announced to already be in the works.

jayhawk2062 11 years, 4 months ago

Hey Chuck, this is pretty high criticism coming from a guy that doesn't cover softball. Maybe if the Journal-World put as many articles about the softball team as the baseball team maybe the interest generated could attract more donors to speed up the refurbishments that are needed.

I think maybe the news media should show gender equity as well as Kansas Athletics Inc.

Brennan Keller 11 years, 4 months ago

i find it some what embarrassing when for the most part the boy's sports team dominate and the girl's teams don't. I think it is definitly time to upgrade the softball facility! Let's have both Women's and Men's sports be dominant and able to contend for the Big 12 Title and NCAA Tournaments on a yearly basis! As of now here's what sports teams i think have a shot at an NCAA tournament Bid:

2009-2010 Mens Basketball 2009 Kansas Football 2009 Kansas Mens Baseball 2009-2010 Women's Basketball Possibly Women's soccer

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