Originally published January 24, 2011 at 12:00a.m., updated January 24, 2011 at 09:52a.m.

KU basketball forward Thomas Robinson expected to make trip to Colorado

Plans change Monday morning, as Robinson now will not make trip with team

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson pulls back for a dunk during warmups prior to tipoff against Texas on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. Robinson is dealing with the loss of his mother, Lisa, who died Friday according to Kansas University officials.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson pulls back for a dunk during warmups prior to tipoff against Texas on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. Robinson is dealing with the loss of his mother, Lisa, who died Friday according to Kansas University officials.


Editor's note: Since this story's publication, Kansas coach Bill Self called the Journal-World on Monday morning to note that plans had changed, as now KU sophomore forward Thomas Robinson will not make the trip with the team to Colorado.

The story below was based off information from Sunday night.

Kansas University sophomore basketball forward Thomas Robinson plans to make today’s trip to Colorado with his teammates and play in Tuesday’s 7 p.m., game against the Buffs, coach Bill Self said Sunday night.

Robinson’s mother, Lisa, died of an apparent heart attack late Friday night in Washington, D.C.

“The plan now is to go to Colorado, yes, then go to D.C. on Wednesday,” Self said, noting Lisa’s funeral may be held Thursday. “It’s difficult to get everything set up over the weekend, and things could change.”

KU fans on Internet message boards have asked if a fund could be set up, perhaps to go toward the college education of Robinson’s younger sister, Jayla Paris.

“I would say, don’t do anything like that until you’ve been told it’s OK (by KU officials sometime in future),” Self said. “We’ve had so many people reach out with sympathy and offering assistance. It makes you proud to be at a place where so many people care. But anything more than thoughts, prayers and well-wishes should be held up until the NCAA would let us know exactly if and what could be done.”

Early indications are it likely would be against the rules for fans to provide funds in such a situation. That likely would be deemed an extra benefit for the student-athlete, even in such a tragic situation.

Self earlier Sunday on his weekly TV show indicated a member of the staff likely would fly to D.C. with Robinson to help support him this week.

“Being the man of the house, he has to get a lot of things straight,” Self said. “We need to have some people work with him on educating him how to do it and probably have a coach go home with him to help him through that. Then, whenever the services are, if it’s all possible, I’m sure several of us will be able to attend.

“It’s a tough time for our whole team. One thing I was proud of, you can kind of see how we feel about each other through tragedy. Those guys (teammates) were pillars for him. Some of the parents in the area of the other players were unbelievable. They see all the boys as their own.”

Colorado enters Tuesday’s game with a 14-6 record, 3-2 in league play.

“Colorado is good. I am concerned about Colorado. I’m more concerned about the psyche of our team,” said Self, whose Jayhawks fell to Texas, 74-63, Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse. “We’ve got to talk through some things in the next 48 hours to give us the best chance to go prepare and win because that’s what Thomas wants us to do. He was very adamant about that yesterday when he spoke to the team (before Texas game). It was a great team moment. Hopefully we’ll rally around the situation, not because of basketball, but it’s something he’d want us to do for him.”


KU basketball video coordinator Kyle Keller will travel to Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday to attend a banquet held to honor the memory of the 10 individuals from the Oklahoma State basketball program who were killed in a plane crash on Jan. 27, 2001, near Byers, Colo.

Keller was an assistant coach at Oklahoma State at the time.

“There will be a lot of hugs, kisses, tears, unique feelings. Hopefully it is a joyous time,” Keller said Sunday night. “It is a celebration of the lives of 10 incredible men. These are people who helped shape my life and their family members who helped shape my life.”

Keller’s e-mail box was flooded Sunday from well-wishers who watched an episode of ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” focusing on the upcoming 10-year anniversary of the plane crash.

Ten years ago, three OSU planes were to carry the Cowboy traveling party back from a game at Colorado.

Keller initially was to have returned to Stillwater on the plane that crashed. However, coach Eddie Sutton had Keller switch with Keller’s cousin, OSU guard Nate Fleming, at the last minute.

“I flew up on that plane, and Nate came back on it,” Keller said. “Coach wanted me to grade the film of the Colorado game when we got back. The jet was faster, and we’d be back 40, 45 minutes earlier (than other planes). Coach said, ‘I want you to the grade the film,’ so we made the switch.

“It was obviously a dramatic deal in my life,” Keller added. “To not only lose 10 fantastic men, to lose not only a member of the basketball team, but a family member (Fleming) ... Something like that will change you forever. I’m fortunate in that my family never blamed me. My relationship with the Fleming family only became stronger.

“God has a plan for all of us,” Keller continued. “My cousin Nate was 20. I was 33. Do I think it was fair I get to live longer? No, but it’s not my choice.

“I can’t go a day without thinking about it. I think about those 10 great men and their unbelievable character. If I don’t take the things they taught me, the lessons those individuals taught me and apply it to my life, then I have failed.”

Keller and his wife, Chaunsea, named their son in honor of Nate Fleming.

“My son’s name is Kemper Nathan (Keller),” Keller said. “I would be proud a father as can be if my son is half the person Nate was. Nate was an incredible person. I’d be proud if I could be half the father Zane (Nate’s dad) is. He’s the best father there could be.”


bradynsdad 10 years, 10 months ago

You would think in a situation like this if the kid has no family left the NCAA would make an exception.

murph 10 years, 10 months ago

That would require the NCAA to do two things: 1. Be logical, and 2. Demonstrate an interest in real people. I doubt they're remotely capable of doing either one.

fansincewilt 10 years, 10 months ago

Sounds like a lot of travel. I pray for their safety during all the trips. I hope the fund gets set up for Robinson's remaining family. In the end, the Jayhawks will be on top win or lose. It is a good bunch.

Martin Rosenblum 10 years, 10 months ago

Could the money that Selby had been fined be put toward such a fund? Seems like it was to be used for a charitable purpose, if I recall correctly. That 4000.00+ could be of benefit to the remaining Robinson family. What better and more timely purpose could there be, unless the NCAA would have issues with the concept.

Brianna Zaleski 10 years, 10 months ago

I hope T-Rob doesn't do anything rash like transfer back to a DC area school to be closer to his sister. He has an incredible opportunity to get a pro contract in a couple of years which would then set him and his sister up financially for some time. I hope this is the kind od advice he is getting and not something to the contrary. Tragic:(

Kye Clark 10 years, 10 months ago

Well I too hope that he doesn't do anything rash, but if after discussion he and his family deem that is what is best for them then I would wholeheartedly support him. Selfishly yes I want him to stay. He has become one of my favorite players. But sometimes life forces you to take a different path. For now I just keep him and his family in my thoughts and will enjoy watching him play in the Colorado game.

BCRavenJHawkfan 10 years, 10 months ago

Life does indeed take you on a different path. I know first hand. I was eagerly looking forward to attending KU. But an automobile accident involving my mother forced me to stay home. The result was to remain at Benedictine College. In the end I like to think it was a good result.

jayhawkinATL 10 years, 10 months ago

I recall several years back that the NCAA allowed Clemson to set up a fund (as well as some other guardianship benefits) for the little brother of a Clemson football player caught up in a situation much like TRob's. Hopefully, the NCAA still has a heart.

KU_FanSince75 10 years, 10 months ago

Only wish the best for T-Rob. All the alumni wanting to write checks for a memorial fund----unbelievable! So supportive, so appreciative. Missed the ESPN "Outside the Lines" episode regarding the OSU basketball team. Hopefully, there will be a replay of that episode so I can catch it.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 10 months ago

how can the ncaa stop who donates to a memorial fund. surely someone has the link to the obituary where we can donate

Woody Cragg 10 years, 10 months ago

It is a fact you really do have to be extremely careful with situations involving a scholarship athlete. This is national news and getting lots of attention and the d**kheads & KU haters will be on their toes ready to drop a dime on the program regardless how heartless it seems. Coach said "don't do anything until told it's ok by KU." Even though we all hurt for these kids, the word now is patience.

Marcia Parsons 10 years, 10 months ago

They have no say about someone making donations, just about Robinson taking the money.

Woody Cragg 10 years, 10 months ago

A college fund would be great, but TRobs little sister has to make a day at time till then. She is just a baby still. If no relatives are available for legal guardianship it's possible she could be a ward of the court, which may not be all that great. This is just awful for those kids, just awful. If the NCAA doesn't have contingency guidelines for these situations I would be floored. If they don't, they damn sure will have some quickly because a boxcar load of people are going to step up for these kids. When my wife's cousin played D1 ball it was a violation for him to go to dinner at someone's house who was not related unless everyone on the team was invited. They have so many dumb-a$$ rules they can't enforce it's ridiculous. So in this situation there certainly is sensible legal protocol in place, it's a no brainer right? Man I hope so. And there really is a closeness between families of kids that play. When you go on the road you're all the "enemy", you stay together, hangout together, you share alot or purpose. I would imagine those wheels are turning constantly even as we speak. Keep sayin your prayers guys, hopefully this will work out sooner rather than later. You can bet Mr Zengers' plate is full right now, as well it should be.

lincase 10 years, 10 months ago

If Coach Self wants us to wait, then we will have to wait. What the NCAA "ought" to have in place and what they do have in place are probably two different things. However, could someone please post an address where we can send cards? I need to feel that I am doing something, no matter how small.

Marcia Parsons 10 years, 10 months ago

Just send it c/o the basketball office. They'll see mail gets to him.

Saad Saifeddine 10 years, 10 months ago

Great idea lincase. TROB needs our unconditional support. Sending him a card is the least we can do. I actually live overseas, in Casablanca, Morocco and I'm not sure how long it will take for the card to arrive to Lawrence, but I can definitely send it via fedex express mail. I feel for this kid man. He's such an amazing young man! stay strong TROB. Does anybody have the mailing address of the basketball office? please

Robert Brock 10 years, 10 months ago

The point is to refrain from jumping into a situation without clarifying the details and procedures. For example, just a few folks would question it if Kentucky and Calipari were setting up trust funds for the relatives of their jocks.

Woody Cragg 10 years, 10 months ago

Nail on the head Brock. Haters would be crying foul in a heartbeat. That's the sad but true reality in this instance.

Brendan Connolly 10 years, 10 months ago

It really is a sad situation. I was one of the people that posted on here about the fund for his sister and even called the University about it. Hopefully the NCAA can take a look at this like the Ray Ray McElrathbey situation (thanks for posting that) and give some leniancy. It would be great to see the Jayhawk community step up here and help this kid who has been hit so hard the last few weeks.

As far as no other relatives available for legal guardianship, I am fairly sure that a court would allow her to live with T-Rob if that is what he wants. I assume (and maybe shouldn't) that the father and his family is out of the picture simply because I haven't ever heard anything about him. If that is the case, then he and his sister have alot of choices to make and regardless of if that decision, he should know that he will always have a home in Lawrence.

The hallmark of a great program is when it steps up for those in trouble and does not let them slip through the cracks. I wouldn't be suprised to see some of the wonderful ex-players step up and help him through this time. The obvious one that comes to mind is Jackson, but you also have guys like Scott Pollard right in Lawrence.

Let's remember that basketball is just a game and help this kid get through life.

Kyle Crenshaw 10 years, 10 months ago

not to mention kirk hinrich right in d.c.

Woody Cragg 10 years, 10 months ago

You guys are all+1! But the NCAA can be an incredible bunch of a$$holes-just incredible. Did the Larry Brown violation come about over a plane ticket to a funeral for a player on scholarship? I don't recall.

Woody Cragg 10 years, 10 months ago

Thanks, I thought that was it but couldn't recall for sure.

kranny 10 years, 10 months ago

I'd be interested in knowing the constitutionality of the NCAA's rules. There are so many rules that contradict the rights of everyday citizens that you wonder if push came to shove what would be a supreme court judge's thoughts. One particular situation-Luke Axtell told that he couldn't sell any CDs that he would've recorded for profit. The NCAA told him that it would be interpreted that he was using his status as an athlete for profit. Life, Iiberty, and the pursuit of happiness unless you're an NCAA athlete.

mloburgio 10 years, 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Saad Saifeddine 10 years, 10 months ago

Done. Thanks for the intiative "jhwkfan162515." Please post the link in other threads as well.

jayhawktalk 10 years, 10 months ago

I didn't have a chance to post over the weekend.

There really are no words, and the situation for Thomas is beyond my comprehension. I missed the first 15 minutes of game time on Saturday, and when I arrived home and started watching, my wife told me of Thomas' mother's passing. I thought she was referring to his grandmother, and when the reality finally hit me, I couldn't believe it! The game lost all significance. Win or lose, I just didn't care. I was just sat there, wanting to hug Thomas from afar.

Thomas has been in my thoughts all weekend, and I cannot even begin to grasp what he must be feeling. Heartbreaking to say the least. Stay strong Thomas, and I hope there is not a moment where you do not have someone close by to offer a shoulder to lean or cry on. Best wishes during this difficult time.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

"Some Changes CU Made When Jayhawk Tad Boyle Took Over for Buzz Bzdelik"

~Took down the poster in the coach's office that read: Bzuzz Bzdelik's Bzboring Bzprinceton BzbasketBzball.

~Took the egg timer out of Coors Field House and replaced it with a regulation 35 second clock.

~Removed the Firm Grip adhesive surface Buzz sprayed on the basketball court to slow teams down.

~Took down the "Boring Meter" on the west end of the arena.

~Announced that students would no longer have to take valium to qualify for student tickets.

~Ketamine addicted Buffalo mascot forced to go cold turkey.

~Announced CU games would no longer be broadcast in slow motion.

~CU basketball players told they no longer had to wear lead boots and run endless cuts to play for CU.

~All dead-bounce basketballs reinflated to regulation pressure.

~Undersized rims replaced with regulation ones.

~Fake wood basketball floor on one foot thick Tempur-Pedic pad that Buzz installed removed and replaced with a real wood floor Sox Walseth could love.

~Citizens of Colorado told they can now come back to the arena with pride.

Funhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Jaybate's post is fun, one of his best. Ranks up there with Jaybate's posts about his Lawrence hippie days.

Woody Cragg 10 years, 10 months ago

Some of us can barely speak of those days without taking the 5th. Our rock band played a frat party in Manhattan after the KU football game I think in 1970 or 71. We all went to KSTC and one guy in the band had played at KU his freshman year in 1966 before he was drafted in the army. He made the terrible decision to say that Riggins was coming over to crash the party and we almost got whacked because of it. Damn near a riot-no kidding. The police ended that one early. Ah-when we were young!

Martin Rosenblum 10 years, 10 months ago

~Citizens of Colorado told they can now come back to the arena with pride................and watch the final defeat by the Kansas Jayhawks!

~Citizens of Colorado told they can now come back to the arena with pride................while trying to justify that they will be in the PACIFIC-10 Conference while being in Colorado!

~Citizens of Colorado told they can now come back to the arena with pride................and figure out that they have several thousand seats that won't be filled once per season any longer!

Scott Smetana 10 years, 10 months ago

Wow, didn't know the Keller story or that he was on our 'team'.
That together with TRob's losses really puts things in perspective. That said, I hope our team pulls tighter and pounds it's way the rest of the season. I'm looking forward to the 'last' game in Boulder tomorrow. I should make a sign... what should it say?

Debbie Mangen 10 years, 10 months ago

9 yr. old Jayla is T-Rob's half-sister. She has been with her natural father since the mother died. And yes indeed, it was over tickets and an alumn taking a kid to the airport that got Larry Brown in hot water with the NCAA. I can remember he said he'd do it again because it was the right thing to do. I agree.

Clydecito 10 years, 10 months ago

I think the NCAA even made a rule change following the Askew mess which allows the school to help out more regarding funeral transportation. Still, caution, patience and deliberation is required these days.

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