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Saturday, September 26, 2009

KU’s Perkins calls recent fights most complicated issue he’s dealt with

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Following a particularly embarrassing week for the Kansas University athletic department, in which police responded to two incidents involving fighting between members of the school's football and men's basketball teams, KU athletic director Lew Perkins has found himself in the middle of a national story that has placed a harsh light on an otherwise promising sports season.

Speaking with members of the media prior to today's football game against Southern Mississippi at Memorial Stadium, Perkins shed little light on the details of the past week, but insisted it was a matter being handled with the utmost importance.

"I've been doing college athletic administration for over 40 years," said Perkins, "and I've never experienced anything like this."

"This might be the most complicated thing I've ever dealt with in my whole life," he added. "There's all kinds of different issues involved, all kinds of different people involved, and every time we kind of get where we are, another thing pops up."

As of this morning, no players had been publicly disciplined for their roles in the fights, despite witness accounts that multiple football and basketball players had thrown punches during a Wednesday morning scuffle outside of Wescoe Hall on the KU campus, a popular gathering place for students. The night before, police had been called to the Burge Union, where another fight — reportedly involving up to 30 or 40 people — had apparently broken out due to a dispute between a football and basketball player over a woman. The Tuesday night fight left Taylor, a starting guard, with a dislocated left thumb that could sideline him for up to four weeks.

Kansas football coach Mark Mangino, who has already held standout receiver Dezmon Briscoe out of one game this season, said Wednesday he hadn't been presented with information that would warrant suspensions, while men's basketball coach Bill Self indicated the following day that any disciplinary measures involving his players would be handled internally.

Perkins said today that he's always allowed coaches to handle disciplinary issues on their own, though, he added, he wouldn't hesitate to step in if he felt the situation warranted it.

"I've always had a policy that I've allowed our coaches to handle dicipline the way they want to with their teams," Perkins said. "Now, if it would ever escalate, or anything should escalate over and above what I would think coaches should be doing, then I would want to step in and deal with it. We're still gathering information, to be honest with you. We have to be very very careful with what we say and what we can't say and what we know and what we don't know, because if we're wrong for one reason or another — not that we're afraid of lawsuits, but we don't necessarily want lawsuits."

Perkins also addressed reports that a feud between the school's football and basketball teams had been festering for some time. Both Self and Mangino said this week they don't believe this to be the case, though a former football player on Wednesday told the Journal-World that issues between the university's two major programs have been evident in recent years, including an incident last year that began at a local bar and resumed at the Jayhawker Towers, where many of the school's athletes reside.

"There's been some discussion that maybe this has been going on for a long time," he said. "I'm quite honest as I am always, we did not know if it was factual, if it was, in fact, going on. And I honestly wish if some people knew, I wish they would have come told us so we could have dealt with it ... Right now, I would ask them to come talk to us."

At the moment, Perkins is working with university and law enforcement officials to piece together the particulars of the week's events, though he admitted specifics might never be pinned down.

"Will I ever know what the total story is? I don't think anybody will, the police, (anybody)," Perkins said. "I don't think the kids know. You talk to one kid that was there, you talk to another kid that was there, and you maybe get something similar, but it's not all similar. I think it happened so quickly, it happened so spontaneously, that it just got out of hand."

Comments

Steve Brown 10 years, 8 months ago

If you are gathering information then ask that anyone with photos forward them to the athletic dept...as every phone now has a camera...the student witnesses should have plenty of photos of the various skirmishes....and the images will show who did and who did not have fists clenched...

MinnesotaJay 10 years, 8 months ago

So sad. I still can't believe it.

My daughter is a student at KU, and I can tell that this has taken her school pride down a couple notches, hopefully only temporarily.

I never would have imagined that something like this was possible.

rcjh22 10 years, 8 months ago

I'll take your tickets if you aren't going to go... I don't see why you don't want to anyway.

stuckinchanute 10 years, 8 months ago

Let's not forget about all the football and basketball players that weren't involved in any of this. You're not going to support Todd Reesing, Darrell Stuckey, Cole Aldrich, ect ect. because of this??

iowajhawk81 10 years, 8 months ago

Hey, Matt I'm sorry about your job situation, but you apparently felt secure enough to purchase tickets, but if you're looking to dump your tickets, I'll take 'em. It's laughable you would say you don't want to "waste" money on attending athletic events. The money raised by both the football and basketball programs funds every other sport, and program at the university. So, if you want to unload your tickets, and your loyalty over a few students in a student body of nearly 30,000, I'll gladly pick it up for them.

iowajhawk81 10 years, 8 months ago

Minnesota, this sort of thing (while perhaps not involving this many players at one time) goes on at most every university. You think Kansas is the only place in the country where a basketball player and football player have physically clashed over something? When I was a studen a 100 years ago there were skirmishes at parties between student athletes. There are three things that made this bigger news than it ordinarily would have been. First, it involved more than just one or two guys. It involved two groups of athletes at two different locations. Second, the comments on Tyshawn's facebook page caused all kinds of "white man hysteria". Third, local media, especially those in K.C. (and the LJW's own Tom "the gullible fool" Keegan), who are all utterly anti-KU went into overdrive attacking the university administration, coaching staff, and players. I can tell you that in Iowa this was not even a blip on the radar screen. No story in the Des Moines Register, and nationally it was barely a blip. As Mangino and Self have said, it's been addressed, dealt with, and it's over, so move on.

murph 10 years, 8 months ago

Too many of you are making light of Matt's feeling that it's just not as much fun to be a Jayhawk after this ugly mess. Many of us who are actually grown up feel seriously let down. Sure, winning is fun, but being able to be proud of those who win, and of those who run (create and then coach) the teams is much bigger to me.

From what I've been able to find out, I don't have much beef with the football team - it looks like they were attacked and I can't blame them for fighting back. But I am seriously disappointed in the basketball people. Most of all, I'm sorry that Bill Self isn't rising to the occasion. I've felt he was a cut above the majority of coaches, but his "it's none of your business" line really sticks in my craw. Tyshawn's stupid posts on Facebook alone should qualify him to be benched for a while, for starters. There's no question about them - he put them up on his page, he admitted assaulting someone, and therefore he should be punished. It was a public act, and the punishment should be public, too.

I'm not wearing any Kansas gear anytime soon. I'll wear it when we lose - I usually purposely drag out a shirt even when we lose to Mizzou. If I wear them when we win, I have to be able to take the barbs when we lose. BUT I have no good answer for this sort of behavior. I'll just put the shirts - and a chunk of the loyalty - away.

jayhawkboogeyman 10 years, 8 months ago

What's sad is that so many fans on here are angry with the whole teams rather than just with those actually involved. We have four seniors leading our football team who have always done it the right way (Reesing, Meier, Stuckey, Sharp), along with about 80 other guys on the team. They put in a ton of work over the summer to make this season special, and they should be the ones most angry about a handful of idiots jeopardizing the whole season. The kids who are putting everything into making the team and university as good as possible deserve our full support. The same is true of basketball. It sounds like a bigger chunk of the basketball team was involved than football (%-wise), but kids like Cole deserve our respect and benefit of the doubt.

MinnesotaJay 10 years, 8 months ago

iowa-

That's the way i'd want to spin it, too, in my dreams. But, plenty of people are saying they've never seen anything like it, and Lew perkins characterizes it a tad bit more seriously than you have.

I'm fine with it not being as bad as has been portrayed by some, however. Nonetheless, it's made it to the national stage (ESPN, Around The Horn, PTI et al).

It embarrassing, disgusting, shocking, disappointing. I'll let you call it. None of these is good.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 8 months ago

It's a very subtle domino effect...stupid acts generate bad PR which spreads lowered positive impressions which create doubt, hesitation and, finally, rejection by potential students, athletes or otherwise, which diminishes student quality which leads to stupid acts, etc. etc...........

Fred Davis 10 years, 8 months ago

Last I checked, these were 18-22 year-olds we're talking about that all made some serious errors in judgment. Is it unfortunate that it had to occur and garner as much negative attention as it did? No question. But this is a very odd situation because from the college athletes I've talked to about it, they're just as stunned as to why athletes, who have traditionally always gotten along, regardless of school, would fight over such pettiness. So let's take it for what it was, a very strange, ignorant act by a select few 18-22 year-olds. This isn't a reason to suddenly bail on the KU Athletics program or lose school pride. I'm still proud to be a KU grad, and I'm confident in Lew, Mangino and Self handling this problem and we'll never have a problem like this again. Should student-athletes know better? No question. But let's all take a look at when we were that age and any questionable decisions we made. KU will be fine. Rock Chalk.

TheTruth08 10 years, 8 months ago

It's time to leave this story alone. KU Sports has been so wrapped up in this story that its forgotten to report that Harrison Barnes is visiting for Late Night in Oct. Right now that's bigger news, to me. The horse is (has been) dead.

truefan 10 years, 8 months ago

Cole Aldrich was at the game today sitting in the student section and he was pretty loud on big defensive downs. The players are doing their best to get past this and I believe they will make us proud again, but let's just put the torches and pitchforks away for now and let them regain their poise. I'm not proud of what happened, it was embarrassing for sure, but I'm not going to let it take away from every athlete that had nothing to do with it.

100 10 years, 8 months ago

Gee I wonder if this article was written by a Missouri grad.

Listen, we're not happy about the week, but talk about a bunch of slander by a journalist...

"Reports, says as many as 40 people fought" says Dugan... Really?

What a crock -- a lot of yelling was reported buddy, but seriously now, if 40 athletes were fighting there would be a lot more injuries than one dislocated thumb.

Who "reported this"?

Oh yes, you did the "reporting"....

Nice job Tiger.

100 10 years, 8 months ago

Jayhawkboogeyman,

Exactly. That's been my big beef all along. Sure it wasn't good that so many were there. But the truth about true involvement can be counted on one hand.

The guts of this started with one woman & one punch.

That's what the reporting should have been about -- the bad blood was never bad, the kids were just trying to make sure their teammates were OK (which is when a guy like Dugan spins it).

Also exactly why ESPN had to delete their original story -- yes lots of kids were there, but it is quite obvious how many total punches were actually thrown.

And honestly it is obvious this has to do with a few people -- it has nothing to do with "teams"....

Rock Chalk, support the Real Hawks

gthejayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

What a bunch of pansies!!!! Every last one of you who have had there "feelings hurt" by these unfortunate events that have transpired this past week. Go ahead, stay home and pout! You aren't needed nor wanted. You act as if you've never made a bad or irrational decision and disappointed someone. I hope your judgement of the young men involved in this situation help you maintain the moral high ground you so desperately are trying to preserve

jayhawkgrad73 10 years, 8 months ago

It was nice to see the Basketball team "supporting" the football team at today's game. It would have been really nice if they had not left at half-time. It would have been great to see them "wave-the-wheat" after the 1st-half touchdowns while they were there. Come on guys ....

iowajhawk81 10 years, 8 months ago

"It's embarrassing, disgusting, shocking, disappointing. I'll let you call it. None of these is good."

I suppose it's embarassing, but isn't that you being embarrassed about what others think of you since you're a fan? Sort of a selfish emotion. I think it falls far short of being "disgusting". Disgusting is something like child pornography, or people having intimate relations with the family pet. Shocking? 9/11 was shocking, this, not so much. Disappointing? Well, I guess if you can be disappointed at the conduct of a bunch of 18-20 year old kids. I have a couple of those in my house, and you know, sometimes they just do some stupid stuff. You can be disappointed at 'em I suppose, but if you love 'em you get over it. Most of us love the Jayhawks, we love the University of Kansas...you'll get over it.

cobweb 10 years, 8 months ago

Read Jason Whitlock's column on this which goes to the heart of the problem.

Jeff Schartz 10 years, 8 months ago

Matt3285 - If your job is newspaper editor or high school spelling teacher, your profession really is on the ropes. Seriously, everyone needs to be more forgiving. We are dealing with a bunch of youngsters. Yes, they need to be disciplined. No, they do not need to be condemned. Move on, guys. Look forward, not backward.

Michael Bratisax 10 years, 8 months ago

Half these comments are ridicules. The 'school pride has been taken down a few notches'..lol Read above comment. westtexjayhawk, glad to see someone with the right perspective. Trust me, outside the Big 12 areas, nobody other than fans or haters even heard of this.

Joe Ross 10 years, 8 months ago

The comments on this site which attempt to sweep these actions under the rug are even more embarrassing than the events which transpired on campus. All of it has me hiding my face in my hands!

For those of you who are numb to the shock of this incident, try imagining Danny Manning coming to fisticuffs with a football player. Try to envision Gayle Sayers making public derrogatory remarks about another fellow athlete (Tyshawn's medium was facebook). Attempt to conceive of Jim Ryun pushing another athlete down stairs over a woman. Imagine Jo Jo White injuring his thumb in a brawl. You just can't do it.

I have heartfelt genuine sympathy for all of you who cant see that this incident is not in line with the great tradition of athletes who have called KU's campus "home". Again, some of the sentiments expressed here indicate that "KU" is becoming something that is NOT the university I know and love and that, to me, is the most embarrassing thing of all.

Clarence Haynes 10 years, 8 months ago

Last week was an embarrassing and a humbling momment for athletes, the athletic program, and staff, alumni, and supporters of the University of Kansas. I do hope that these athletes are for the most part aware of their actions and have learned an invaluable lesson.

Too many human and financial resources are being committed to developing a first class program. This includes the return of a notable such as Gayle Sayers, a model citizen in his day, who along with Jon Hadl, is not only committed to raising the requisite funding for a first class athletic program but also creating a first rate environment for athletes to thrive both academically and athletically.

It is therefore incumbent for the KU athletes to fully realize the opportunity afforded them by attending a first rate university and being part of a major athletic program. They must draw from this embarrasing incident, and make sure that there is no recurrence. Otherwise, there will also be consequences not only in the form of expulsion, but also those expressed above by Matt3285. Moreover, it could impede Sayers and Hadl in raising funds for among others, the recently announced upgrades to Memorial Stadium that also provides funding support KU's academics.

I m confident that the Athletics Department and its athletes will live up to this challenge and will put matters back on track, thereby enabling all of us to focus and root on the football team, men and women basketball teams, and other programs toward having a stellar year and making us all proud!

gchawk 10 years, 8 months ago

There is one important point which needs to be said to the student athelic, and that is they are expendable. All quality programs, especially blue chip programs like KU, have another player just praying for a chance to play, all they need is a "break". I sincerily hope this issue is over. I personally have all the confidence in the world that Coach Mangino and Coach Self will take care of the problems adequately.

James Miller 10 years, 8 months ago

I agree with gthejayhawk. Everybody needs to chill.

But how easy has this guys life been if this is the toughest thing he has ever had to deal with. I wish I was in his shoes. Handling this event would probably be about....number 3000 on my difficult situation list.

E4KUJHawks 10 years, 8 months ago

I was born and raised a Jayhawk, and these incidents have done nothing to sway my pride in KU or KU Athletics. We're still the best! I won't go so far as to say I am not disappointed in the involved individuals, but I certainly am not going to allow them to affect my pride in being a Jayhawk or deter me from supporting KU athletics.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk....

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

Knowing only what an outsider can know, I for one would prefer to sweep these events out from under the rug some suggest they may be being swept under...if that is, there are any events to hide under a rug.

I would prefer a full and open accounting of what happened. On its own, a single punch leading to a single dislocated thumb from a punch hardly seems something to hand wring about. But if there were a lot more, then tell us.

We all love and cheer for the players. Through them we recall a bit of our past and through them we see something that we value, the KU basketball tradition, revitalized each year. This is not infantile jock worship. It is love of the game and of the legacy. For those that don't get it, tough.

And we all have experienced the terrible pain of broken romances, and many of us the cruelty of divorces, and know well that persons with broken hearts, and persons competing for the same person's affections, be it two men vying for the same woman, or two women vying for the same man, or two men vying for the same man, or two women vying for the same woman, regardless of age, can take extraordinarily rash and inproper actions. So: I think we can handle the truth, and I think the students can handle the truth, and I think all concerned would likely be better off with the truth (unless of course you are Jack Nicholson playing a twisted Marine colonel).

The old cliche that "a little truth goes a long ways" often needs to be amended to "a little truth goes a long ways, but often not far enough." We appear to be getting a little truth and it seems not nearly enough this time.

Of course, most here probably recognize also that there can be instances in the lives of young persons, when they act rashly and unwisely about certain things, and do harm that is not truly indicative of how they will live most of their lives, nor is it behavior that radically alters the course of any other's lives. These kinds of actions, to be done justice, sometimes require a certain amount of leniency and mercy. In these cases, sometimes the wise course of action is not to punish a young person, who might by rigid standards deserve to be punished in a way that stigmatizes them for the rest of their lives.

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

College athletes are not the only ones who are occasionally spared. Judges and police and university officials already probably know many cases, where leniency has shielded a youth from the full force of events and produced an adult life that justified the leniency. The object of a college education is to develop more and better educated and socialized persons that can make greater contributions to our society, not to stamp them rejected after a mis-step, if that mis-step can be legally overlooked; i.e., if that mis-step did not radically alter another individual's remaining life.

If leniency requires some obfuscation in this event, I hope that KU officials will follow a course of action that is wise in this regard and I hope that fans and media will understand the realities of crime and punishment, and its long term consequences on those youngsters that can be forever branded by it.

Still, KU will remain a fine school and fine program, whether or not we have to bounce some guys off a team--or even have some have to face a court, as Sherron had to do previously.

Of course it is not good for the living, breathing myth of KU basketball to be exposed to this sort of thing. But the living breathing myth of KU basketball is about living breathing persons. What is best for these persons, not just the players, but all of the KU persons, is what is best for this living, breathing myth.

(Note: if you're one of those bottom line folks that says its all about the money, which it often can be, well, there will be no persuading you of anything else but that this situation is being managed to keep the money flowing. But if you have a little room in your intellectual head set for more complexity, perhaps there is a bit more to this story.)

It is sometimes simple to do right, or wrong. It is sometimes simple to judge right or wrong. But often right and wrong, both in action, and after the fact in judgement, have nuances and trade-offs that must be weighed by decent persons, regardless of how fair, or biased the system may be in favor of those with money and influence, or with attachments to institutions with same.

I do not feel we on the outside have sufficient facts at this time to judge whether right and wrong are simple, or nuanced in this case. We have allegations without much evidence. We have claims of huge fights without evidence of proportional injuries. We have second hand claims about numbers of those involved, but we have no in depth interviews of any eye witnesses.

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

Frankly, I don't wish this re-focused on gangsta culture, or video violence, or KU fan behavior for a nano second, nor do I want it re-focused on the ills of society that also afflict KU's young athletes. They can take responsibility for assault once they are over eighteen. A right cross, or a stair way shove, can come as easily from a suburban jock as from a gangsta jock.

But I also don't want young men, or women, stigmatized by jurisprudence for stupidity that would not drastically alter the course of anyone's life were it not for the machinery of legal and bureaucratic apparatuses operating by rote.

I don't want anyone getting off for any serious crimes, because they are KU athletes and KU needs the healthy revenues that come with a squeaky clean program winning big.

But I also don't want anyone getting charged, because KU needs healthy revenues etc. and needs some scapegoats to ensure their continuation.

I want justice here with a fitting and appropriate level of nuance.

I want the media to dig for the facts and publish them, if they lead to serious crimes, but I also don't want a bunch of exaggerated language by media outlets seeking clicks and eyeballs that can report only one dislocated thumb of one player.

I really don't want Tyshawn Taylor, a promising young African American, or any other young person of any other heritage, taking the fall for a bunch of hooligans, just because Tyshawn happened to be candid enough to post the punch he threw to Facebook, which was, at most one small aspect of the big multi-day fracas that some suggest occurred. Unless Tyshawn triggered orthodontic surgery, or landed a temple shot that caused persistent brain damage, I don't want Tyshawn singled out. I don't want Tyshawn to be the only player named and so take the fall for 115 odd allegedly disgraceful and blood thirsty football and basketball players incited to brawling over a broken romance with a female student. It ain't right. It ain't fair. It ain't good. It ain't just.

I do want to be reassured that there are no drug or gambling organizations insinuated into the cash cow of college sports that are incentivising gang-like behaviors on the KU campus.

(Note: this could be a high order given the amount of drug usage and gambling addictions alleged on college campuses these days.)

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

Still, if this situation were as horrendous as some characterize it; that is if some long term harm were done to someone (not just a black eye to the living breathing myth of KU basketball), I would prefer to know the names of both players and the female student that were at the heart of the conflict.

Without putting too fine a point on it, I would want to see some facts and I would prefer to see them now, not later after the spinning and delays have taken their toll on persons' attention spans and left a lingering credibility gap.

I would want to see the eye witness reports published. I would want the LJW journalists out interviewing students and faculty, especially tenured faculty, who saw the alleged violent fighting. I would want to see a tabulation of contusions, fractures and lost teeth. Was it pushing and shoving, or were punches thrown? Were it sucker-punch-and-runs, or was it vicious fighting to the death? Were players kicking each other while the vanquished were down, or was this a lot of taunting? Was the player allegedly pushed down steps pushed down one, three, or a flight of steps? Was he injured? Did he see the push coming? Was he walking away and someone endangered his life by pushing him by surprise from behind, or was he taunting as he was pushed? I want some empirical quantification of the level of violence that actually occurred.

If something happened, then out with it.

Don't whine to me about it being too complicated to understand. KUAD finances are probably too complicated to understand, but 100 some odd persons on two teams brawling with each other does not seem to present a major epistemological crisis. There have to have been enough eye witnesses to all these altercations/fights/whatevers to piece together a pretty reasonable picture of what went on. There is no need to rely solely on one person. There is no need to be overwhelmed by the variety of responses. Any competant lawyer in house, or retained on an hourly, can sort through the eye witness accounts and come up with a plausible account of what happened.

We don't need the whole truth, so help us god. We just need a lot more than we are getting right now. We just need the preponderance of evidence in this case to begin to let the public make up its mind.

Instead we are getting Tyshawn's thumb and a lot of bits and pieces of a pitiful few accounts and speculations.

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

Discipline the players who were responsible, if they deserve it and leniency cannot be justified. If any possible criminal behavior occurred, turn the evidence over to the authorities.

But if nothing more can be produced than what we are being shown presently, it is time to start toning down the rhetoric and some journalists perhaps need to make some apologies for rushing to judgement and for fanning flames of controversy needlessly (or for clicks and eyeballs).

I am just back from a vacation. Perhaps I have missed some evidence that has surfaced. Has video surfaced showing something horrendous? If so, give me the link.

If not, KU authorities probably need to stop playing it so close to the vest and ESPN probably needs to make a public apology.

Boys will be boys.

Criminals will be criminals.

Based on the evidence, which are we to believe our KU players to be?

Or is it some combination?

Reasonable minds want to know.

And they can handle some nuance.

(End Note: I am a layman who does not pretend to know the legal and regulatory requirements of university officials in matters such as these. I am only opining in this and preceeding related comments and not suggesting that any officials are acting in any illegal, or even inappropriate ways. I just think light is often the best disinfectant.)

milehighhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Jaybate: You enjoy your own writing more than anyone else here. Go practice someplace else, mmmmkay?

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

milehighhawk,

Not getting enough, er, um, sleep, mmmmkay?

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

milehighhawk further,

Now that you've gotten some, er, um, sleep, let me address the issue you raise regarding my enjoyment of my writing, as it is an interesting question, even though it comes from someone who is not getting enough, er, um, sleep. :-)

As usual, you are not really on the money.

I don't enjoy my own writing more than anyone else enjoys my writing. I get a small enjoyment out of my writing after the fact, only when I can see I turned a good phrase. Since this rarely occurs, I rarely enjoy my writing after the fact.

To be still more specific, I enjoy the act of writing in the same way that I enjoy shooting a basketball. I also enjoy the give and take with fellow board rats in the same way that I enjoy the give and take of playing five on five in basketball.

Do you see the difference between what I enjoy and what you project upon me from yourself that I enjoy? Can you?

I knew you could.

Next comment, or question. :-)

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