Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Amid allegations of unfair treatment, KU seeks to meet with father of women’s basketball player; Zenger speaks on discipline policies

Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger speaks during a Big 12 conference meeting in Irving, Texas, Wednesday, June 1, 2016. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger speaks during a Big 12 conference meeting in Irving, Texas, Wednesday, June 1, 2016. (AP Photo/LM Otero)


Kansas Athletics officials said Tuesday they want to meet with the father of a KU women’s basketball player who alleges she has been mistreated by the university, but the father thus far has not agreed to a meeting.

Tim Calvert, the father of KU sophomore women’s basketball player McKenzie Calvert, has made an increasing number of public allegations that his daughter has been treated unfairly after she reported that star men’s basketball player Josh Jackson vandalized her car in a December incident at a Lawrence bar.

KU Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger broke his silence on the matter Tuesday, expressing support for how KU men’s basketball coach Bill Self handled the matter, and expressed disappointment that Tim Calvert continues to make allegations without meeting with KU Athletics officials.

“To this point, I’ve been asked to be measured in my comments,” Zenger said early Tuesday evening. “But considering recent public comments I feel it’s necessary for me to now speak publicly myself. In light of that, I want to reiterate the few points about disciplinary processes in Kansas Athletics.”

According to Zenger, KU, through written correspondence, reached out last week to Tim Calvert in an attempt to set up a meeting to discuss his concerns.

“We’ve extended an invitation to Mr. Calvert to meet with me,” Zenger said. “He’s chosen to delay that meeting and yet one-sided articles continue to appear as we’re trying to get that meeting.”

Zenger also said that McKenzie Calvert has not signed a release form that would allow the university to more fully discuss her concerns.

“If a parent of a student-athlete insists on having public conversations about internal discipline, we would be happy to have that conversation if the student-athlete signs the FERPA waiver that allows us to discuss the student-athlete’s full disciplinary history. At that point, we’d welcome the conversation.”

FERPA, or the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of student education records. According to Zenger, KU athletes are required to sign a waiver before any disciplinary measures can be discussed with a parent or guardian.

Tim and McKenzie Calvert both have publicly expressed concerns that McKenzie Calvert’s discipline following the December incident at The Yacht Club was more severe than any punishment Jackson received. Calvert has said she threw a drink in the face of KU basketball player Lagerald Vick. She alleges Jackson became involved in the dispute and began kicking her car as she tried to leave the bar’s parking lot. Jackson has been charged in Douglas County District Court with one count of criminal damage to property.

Reached by the Journal-World via telephone Tuesday, Tim Calvert said his attorney received the invitation from KU Athletics but was unable to schedule a meeting.

“They were asking for a commitment to a date and time,” Tim Calvert said. “And, at that time, I could not do that. I was not home. Thursday was my travel day back home. I was in Minneapolis, my wife was in Texas and my daughter, of course, was in Kansas, so we couldn’t discuss anything. So I asked that we be given a chance to get together and discuss that letter.”

A Kansas Athletics official said that KU did ask for a response within 24 hours but did not request that a meeting take place during that time. The same official said Tim Calvert requested to revisit the issue after KU's spring break (March 20-26) and KU agreed.

Asked if he was encouraged to hear from Zenger, Calvert said he was “a bit surprised by it.”

“It was the first time that happened,” he said.

Asked if he thought the two sides eventually would meet, Mr. Calvert said, “I suppose that meeting will happen. Spring break’s coming up. I know the tournament’s coming up and Dr. Zenger’s going to be busy. We’re open to it. I guess when it happens, it happens.”

As for what he hoped would be resolved or accomplished during any dialogue between his family and Kansas Athletics, Tim Calvert said he did not know what to expect.

“At this point, I have no idea,” he said. “I really don’t. Because I don’t know what prompted the letter for the invite for a meeting. The subject matter was not discussed or written in the letter. It was just an opportunity to meet and talk about concerns. I have no idea what the motive is. I have no idea what their goal is. We have not spoken ever... I think it’s really just an exchange of concerns and ideas. I have no expectations beyond that.”

Zenger, who said he “absolutely” supported the way Self handled the discipline of Jackson, said the procedures and policies for KU’s athletic department fall under four main areas.

• Coaches discipline athletes regularly for a range of possible issues.

“There are rarely identical issues,” Zenger said. “Each situation has unique circumstances and each coach has different disciplinary styles. In 12 years as an AD, it’s never been my practice to tell someone how to coach, who to play or how to discipline.”

• A student-athlete’s full body of work is always considered when applying discipline.

Zenger said the department refers to this as “progressive discipline” and added that, “discipline for a first offense is often very different from that of a second or third offense.”

• Kansas Athletics has an overall policy of not discussing punishments publicly.

“There’s really no justification for needlessly publicly talking about a student-athlete or shaming a student-athlete, because they’re students first,” Zenger said. “That philosophy is the same as what is applied to the university student conduct office.”

• And Kansas Athletics always asks itself if there are times when it might benefit the department to publicly discuss internal team discipline.

“These policies have been in existence for many years and they’ve served us well,” Zenger said. “The institutional policies with how to deal with these situations are solid as well, and we depend on those.”


John Brazelton 5 years, 2 months ago

Wait 3 months and Jackson will be an NBA pro with a big First Round contract. The settlement money will be much bigger.

Noel Graham 5 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps you should have tried to have a conversation with AD Zenger before going to the press with your allegations. You are accusing the University of Kansas of violating your daughter's civil rights with the Title IX allegations. How can you not now what the letter and meeting are about?

Ryan Zimmerman 5 years, 2 months ago

If she only would have stayed in So Cal...

LJ Gee 5 years, 2 months ago

This girl's father has done her a massive disservice. Reading between the lines, it sounds like she has a history of discipline issues whereas Josh had nothing other than this at that time. It sounds like she instigated things by throwing the drink in Lagerald's face and who knows what happened after that but I doubt she walked away quietly. Im not excusing Josh kicking her car at all but I feel like he got the punishment that fit the 'crime' on that. She claims one day that if josh had offered to pay for the damage we'd never be there then the next day her dad accuses josh's lawyers of trying bribe them by offering said money. She claims unfair treatment despite her attitude, past discipline issues and poor play on the court but doesnt pursue any of the formal avenues for investigating such a claim b/c they wouldnt bring her or her father any notoriety. I have no idea what her actual talent level is but it doesnt matter b/c nobody is going to give her a chance after being such a problem for two programs now. More importantly, her father is reinforcing her spoiled entitled attitude which is going to hurt her in the professional world, if she goes that route. I really feel for KU in situations like this b/c Bill and Zenger have to abide by rules and policies which prevent them from talking openly about this but the girl and her family can make all kinds of accusations publicly without having to back them up at all and without consequence. At some point the truth will come out and I think its going to make this chick look much worse than she already does.

Craig Alexander 5 years, 2 months ago

I absolutely agree. Zenger's comments about having the conversation only if a waiver is signed so they can talk about "all" of the discipline actions for the student is telling. If you want to talk about the accusations then let's do that but we will only do so if we can talk about all the garbage that has happened leading up to this.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 2 months ago

LJ, you make a few good points but then you claim McKenzie has had past discipline issues. I've researched her transfer from USC in the only thing I can find was that she was nominated Pac 12 freshman of the week on a couple of occasions but nothing about any discipline issues. You also stated that you had no idea what her actual talent level is.

McKenzie is a five-star recruit who transferred to Kansas along with UNC transfer Jessica Washington. I get the vitriol being directed to the father but not sure she deserves the treatment she has received.

She obviously should have never thrown the drink at Vick but they had a relationship at one time and I'm not sure anybody knows what transpired before the drink was thrown.

Regardless, I find it troubling that her car was vandalized in response. If it had happened to my daughter, I'd like to think I'd handle it better than her father has but completely understand his anger.

You also state that her talent level no longer matters because she is being such a problem for 2 programs. Don't you think there is plenty of blame to be passed around?

Mike Greer 5 years, 2 months ago

Marius, if KU can't discuss discipline with any students, actually not just athletes, what makes you think USC would be any different. Therefore, the only way research would turn up an issue would be if she or her family made it public as was the case at KU. It's always great to do research, but in this case it was unlikely anything was going to be revealed.

If I recall correctly, I read somewhere she left USC because of issues, just don't remember the specifics and I don't think it was playing time. That seems to be her issue now more than the car, which was not a bright thing to do, although from what I've read it was more of a mob than an individual, it's just that she knew Jackson.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 2 months ago

There would be media coverage, just as there is in this case. Whenever the police are involved there is an incident report and these are public documents.

If she was involved in a disciplinary matter strictly related to her time at USC then I would agree that USC would not discuss any discipline.

I'm not doubting that you read something somewhere but I've done a lot a research and haven't found anything other than this incident.

Mike, I would be glad to be proven wrong but Josh has now been cited in 2 separate incidents. There seems to be plenty of witnesses who saw what happened at the bar and that Josh did damage her vehicle. Even if she instigated the matter, Josh should know there would be repercussions.

I have been one of Josh Jackson's biggest fans. I think he is a great player with a great future who has made some decisions that if it was Joe Average nobody would have ever heard about it. I just hope that this is a learning experience for everybody involved.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 2 months ago

LJ - Agree with most of what you say, but doubt that we'll know the truth. Guessing the Calverts won't be willing to sign the waiver to allow KU to discuss all her discipline. Wonder if papa knows about all her discipline issues. Guessing she doesn't want to let him know.

The Star will continue to milk the non-story that every other journalistic organization realizes is suspect at best. Hopefully, it will go away soon, but guessing it will have a life - in a night of the living dead sort of way, for as long as KU is playing

Len Shaffer 5 years, 2 months ago

Unfortunately, I don't agree that every other journalistic organization "realizes it's suspect at best." In fact, the San Francisco Chronicle mentioned all the disciplinary problems that KU has been experiencing, and you can bet the announcers will talk about it in the tournament, especially if KU makes it to the later rounds.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 2 months ago

"Wonder if papa knows about all her discipline issues."

What specifically are all her discipline issues?

Benny Armstrong 5 years, 2 months ago

I don't believe anyone knows what her disciplinary history is beyond Calvert, the coaching staff, and AD as was indicated in Zenger's comments. As with other issues related to privacy for students, the university is not allowed to share such details just like they couldn't share with parents if a normal student was written up for something. This in my opinion is the correct thing to do, but it puts the school in the unfortunate position of taking these stories from the Star sitting down rather than being able to defend themselves as they seemingly want to.

In light of that, I do think it is worth noting that it seems to me as though these words were carefully chosen by Zenger and the counsel, etc. and indicate that the action taken against Calvert following the Yacht Club incident were in keeping with the prescribed escalation pattern for punishments that either Schneider or the department as a whole subscribe to. I don't think he comes out with such a strong statement after his long silence if there wasn't something to back it up and she didn't have previous marks on her record that supported the suspension. Hopefully we find out the full story at some point so that we can get some sort of closure in this matter, good or bad.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 2 months ago

Really good post Benny. A thoughtful response.

Joe Joseph 5 years, 2 months ago

Calvert doesn't know what/why the University wants to talk to him?

Uh, wat?

Lance Cheney 5 years, 2 months ago

Different girl than the Bragg case, isn't it?

Lance Cheney 5 years, 2 months ago

But you weren't wrong with your assessment.

Ray Winger 5 years, 2 months ago

Something was perceived as a slight, either by word or deed, triggering her throwing the drink. It is none of our business, and should be managed by the respective coaches.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 2 months ago

It should never have been our business but since her father has decided to take his case to the media, it's pretty much become an open forum.

I would like to think Kansas has treated McKenzie Calvert fairly and that the NCAA doesn't get involved.

John Fitzgerald 5 years, 2 months ago

No one will know exactly what happened until she signs the form. And why would she? Her and her father have the upper hand with all of this false information.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 2 months ago

Bravo, Director Zenger! There is no need for KU athletics to sit by and be a "punching bag" for an enabler like Mr. Calvert. In the end, I feel sorry for them because his daughter has burned so many bridges that she will have to swim a very long way to get back to a semblance of normalcy.

Brian Leslie 5 years, 2 months ago

Let's take this two years down the road. It's standard practice for employers to do a google and social media search for prospective employees. The name McKenzie Calvert is going to come up with several hundred internet hits because of her father's actions. Any employer would be foolish not to factor in her immaturity, her vindictiveness, her entitlement, her checkered history at two different high-reputation schools, and the meddling and litigious parent lurking behind this prospective employee. One think you know FOR SURE is that if you hire this person and she feels slighted in any way, not even work related - let's say after hours, she throws a drink in another employee's face, and that employee responds angrily - she will use whatever legal and extra-legal means she can to get revenge, and you could find your company in court, in the local paper, in other papers in the state, and perhaps even mentioned before the state legislature. Pretty easy non-hire decision, right?

Her father is doing her an injustice that is unfortunately going to follow his daughter into the real world.

You know who is going to pop up at the top of those employer web searches? The Kansas City Star. Congrats, KC Star -- you got even more clicks and it's paying off 2 - 3- 5 years down the road.

Creg Bohrer 5 years, 2 months ago

Does anyone know exactly why she transferred from usc?

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 2 months ago

Former five-star recruit joins KU women’s team as transfer:

From Kansas Women's Basketball head coach Schneider:

"Kenzie is an athletic guard who is the complete package offensively" "She is strong, explosive and very fundamentally sound. Kenzie also takes great pride in her ability to be a lock-down defender. Her skill level and aggressive mentality will make her an immediate impact player in our program. We are thrilled she has chosen to become a Jayhawk."

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 2 months ago

Does anyone know exactly why the KC Star has such a vendetta against KU?

The Star runs all these one-sided half-truth stories and does not cover the Zenger statement at all.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 2 months ago

I downloaded their app because Gary Bedore and Jesse Newell are over there but now I hate opening it because of all the ridiculous stories. I would delete the app but there must be something going on. No educated person can be that dumb as they appear to be on the surface.

As a broader story, Title IX is ridiculous. If the Trump Administration wants to drain all the swamp, they need to send the vacuum over to the NCAA!

Len Shaffer 5 years, 2 months ago

It's not possible for the Trump administration to drain the swamp, now that they're allowing coal companies to dump in the water again ...

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 5 years, 2 months ago

Josh should countersue for defamation. He offered to settle the matter a long time ago and this could be costing him $$ when it comes to his future. Her 'roid rage attitude and sense of entitlement won't get her far in this world. Will she even be able to be a student athlete after she is paid off? If so all we need is rich donors to kick in recruits headlights and we can pay them through civil suits.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 2 months ago

Does anyone else fear NCAA investigations? There just seems to be so many reported incidents this year.

It does seem that the Kansas City Star is the driving force behind the majority of these incidents but they are being covered nationally on ESPN.

Calipari has 2 Final 4 runs vacated by the NCAA. I couldn't imagine a worse scenario.

Andy Tweedy 5 years, 2 months ago

I wouldn't think so, none of this stuff is a violation of NCAA rules, it's all off the court stuff. Cal's Final 4's weren't violated cuz he had a bunch of knuckleheads, they were violated for more concrete NCAA violations.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 2 months ago

They will likely check on the situation, but it has been apparent when Coach spoke, when Zenger spoke, and when Josh's attorney spoke that one side is acting professionally and by the rules, and the other is a loose cannon that flips around shooting in every direction.

They'll go back to Indy laughing about it after at least getting good BBQ to make the trip worthwhile.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 2 months ago

You guys are pretty sharp so maybe I'm just being a little paranoid.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 2 months ago

Excellent synopsis, Brian. As you say, her problems are just beginning.

Tony Bandle 5 years, 2 months ago

Gee, I remember when this site used to be about KU basketball. It's a different world.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 2 months ago

FYI. I hope no one takes my comments in any other way than that until ALL the facts are in, maybe we should give McKenzie Calvert the benefit of the doubt also. There are so many other media sources jumping into the story that it has grown into a national debate.

From CBS (the home of the NCAA tournament): Josh Jackson not getting suspended opens double-standard talk at KU

McKenzie is one of ours also. A highly ranked recruit who wanted to come to Kansas.

Barry Weiss 5 years, 2 months ago

This stuff is not even in the same universe as what Louisville and Baylor have on the table.

Micky Baker 5 years, 2 months ago

Isn't throwing a drink in someone's face a form of assault? Shouldn't throw a drink in someone's face then play victim.

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