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Archive for Thursday, February 6, 2003

Woodling: KU easy? Bosses say no way

February 6, 2003

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It isn't easy to win on the road. Nor is it easy to slip the sunrise past a rooster. Moreover, as Kermit the Frog has been telling us for years, it isn't easy being green.

It is easy, however, for a high school football player to be admitted to Kansas University.

At least that's what the Orlando Sentinel reported last week in a story about the new NCAA academic admission requirements.

Reporters from the Florida newspaper interviewed about two dozen coaches, recruiting coordinators and academic coordinators among the 117 NCAA Division I-A schools and compiled a three-tier assessment.

In the Big 12 Conference, the Sentinel rated Missouri and Texas as difficult. In the so-so category were Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Finally, rated as easy were Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State and, yes, Kansas.

Not that Paul Buskirk is buying it. Buskirk is the assistant athletic director in charge of student-athlete support services at KU and said he would have believed basketball was invented by Woody Woodpecker before he would believe the Sentinel report.

"I would not put us in the easy category," Buskirk said. "I'm surprised at that. And Baylor ... I'm surprised they would list a private school as easy."

So does Kansas University chancellor Robert Hemenway.

"That's ridiculous," Hemenway said. "Baylor probably has higher standards than any of us."

Hemenway also disputes the Kansas ranking.

"We probably looked to be easy when we had our open-admissions policy," the chancellor said, "but that was qualified three years ago to where it takes a 21 on the ACT. I just don't think you would characterize KU as easy."

None of this academic mumbo-jumbo applies to junior-college transfers, however, and juco products are becoming more and more prevalent in Big 12 athletics because of the league rule that prevents schools from accepting non-qualifiers and holding them out of competition for a year.

Of the 44 players on Kansas State's two-deep offense and defense charts last season, for instance, 19 were juco transfers. It's no secret one of the leading reasons for K-State's resurgence in football during the last decade has been its ability to enroll players from two-year schools -- many of whom could not gain admission to other conference schools.

Kansas University may indeed be easy when it comes to admitting high school football players -- at least in comparison to the majority of its Big 12 brethren -- but KU is not easy when it comes to admitting juco transfers.

Or as Buskirk said: "We accept fewer transfer hours than most (schools) around the conference."

Football coach Mark Mangino announced Wednesday he had signed a dozen players who had performed in junior college. To tell the truth, I thought he would sign as many as 15 juco players to plug personnel deficiencies and try to make the Jayhawks competitive this fall, but then again maybe he couldn't get that many into school.

Mangino may have seen more frogs out there than princes.

"We looked at some transcripts and pounded our desks knowing we couldn't get them in here," the KU coach said.

Some day, Mangino mentioned, he would like the Big 12 to force all league members to abide by the same rules when admitting juco transfers.

"Selfishly, I'd probably like to put that on the table," Mangino said, "but right now I'm trying to build a program. It's clear they're proud of their academic reputation here, and we take a lot of pride in our academic support."

Can Mangino forge a football reputation while the school maintains its academic reputation? That is the million-dollar question on Mount Oread.

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