Archive for Saturday, December 24, 2005

Booster excited by Jackson’s return

KU grad Davis tries to set record straight about relationship with player

December 24, 2005


A man who normally falls into a deep sleep the moment his head hits the pillow found himself tossing and turning all Thursday night into the wee hours Friday morning.

Don Davis, a 48-year-old Kansas University graduate from Edmond, Okla., was too revved for bed after watching Darnell Jackson score a career-high 12 points and grab a career-best six rebounds in Kansas University's 85-62 rout of Northern Colorado on Thursday at Allen Fieldhouse.

It was Jackson's first action of the season -- the sophomore forward forced to serve a nine-game NCAA suspension for accepting $5,000 worth of benefits from Davis, an engineer for an independent oil company who has been a spiritual adviser and close confidant of Jackson's for the past four years.

"I'm telling you, that was good therapy for Darnell, his mom, me," Davis said Friday, speaking to the Journal-World in his first interview since sanctions were announced against Jackson on Nov. 16.

"It's a feeling of pure joy for him," added Davis, who watched on TV instead of attending in person -- his KU tickets taken away as punishment for his role in the NCAA flap.

"What Darnell has overcome ... picture somebody you care about who has been through a continued period of 'one thing after another' and all of those things lifechanging," Davis exclaimed.

Jackson, whose father died when he was 13 (Davis was the same age when his own dad died), last spring lost his grandmother, who died from injuries sustained in a car accident in Las Vegas. Darnell's mom, Shawn, suffered broken bones in the crash and is unable to work for a year, yet still supports Darnell's teenage brother and sister in Midwest City, Okla.

"Darnell went through a period, 'Should I come home and take care of my mom and skip school a semester?''' Davis said. "Then this NCAA thing came up which I'm beating myself over the head about. He loses an immediate relationship with somebody he cares about.

"On top of that he is an NCAA Division One athlete at a high-profile school. To come out and get a 3.0 grade point. A kid who doesn't drink, who is one of the most popular players on the team ... he is somebody I think everybody should hear about."

Davis talked to Shawn Jackson, who attended the game, and Darnell following the contest. Davis said it's just the fourth time he's spoken to Jackson since the NCAA interviewed him about his relationship with Darnell last summer.

"Darnell kept telling me, 'When I got in the game my knees were shaking. I almost fell over,''' Davis said. "The crowd started cheering and he saw his mom in the stands. He said it's the greatest feeling he's had. All he could think about was his grandmom. He's been using her memory to push himself."

Davis -- who said he's not been told to keep away from Jackson -- will try to minimize contact until Darnell graduates from college.

"I'll probably see him tomorrow just to give him a hug," Davis said. "Coach Self is his No. 1 guy now. As much as Darnell loves me and I love him, he needs to focus only on what coach Self wants him to do. It's difficult after talking and praying about so many things together, but I'll have to wait 21/2 years."

Jackson confirmed this week he misses close contact with Davis.

"Yes. I could talk to him about anything," Jackson said.

Davis on Friday wanted to clear the record on his role in Jackson's suspension. The 1979 KU graduate said he met Jackson during Jackson's sophomore year in high school, before Jackson was being recruited by KU.

"I was at a John Marshall game to see J.R. Giddens play," he said of Giddens, who at the time was a prep junior and a KU recruit. "I was talking to J.R.'s pastor who would go to the games. Darnell was over (near the pastor) there and stuck out like a sore thumb. I talked to him and it was all, 'Yes sir and no sir.' I met his mom and was so impressed with her (in raising a family alone as his own mom did)."

Davis said he had a long conversation with Jackson after Darnell became a part of Oklahoma City's United Way campaign after Jackson's junior year at Northwest Classen High in Oklahoma City.

"That's when I really got to know him," Davis said.

Davis said he drove Jackson to several KU games his senior year. "We might stop for a burger here and there. Typically I'd try to spend two to three hours with him each week. I'd spend five to seven dollars a week at Golden Corral or McDonald's," Davis said.

He helped move Jackson to KU his freshman year and drove Jackson's mom to several games that season.

"Sometimes I'd buy her a burger. Sometimes she'd buy me a burger," Davis said. "It was no big deal."

So what was the fuss? Davis said ultimately "somebody reported to the NCAA that there's a guy in Oklahoma City giving all kinds of stuff to J.R. Giddens (which Davis stated was untrue)."

Rick Evrard, a former NCAA enforcement official who works for KU, contacted Davis, who told him he didn't provide anything for Giddens, but indicated he did some things for Jackson.

"Where things got ugly ... I did something I can't explain. I can't defend myself. I lied to Rick. He asked if I had any involvement with Darnell's car. I said no and that was not true," Davis said.

Davis said he did tell the truth about his involvement with Jackson's ownership of a used Chevy S10 when interviewed by an NCAA official. The truck, which once was used by Davis' son, was offered by Davis to Jackson for its trade-in value. Jackson would pay $150 a month for the truck until its value of about $2,500 was paid off to Davis, the KU grad said.

Jackson felt uncomfortable driving the truck, so his mom traded it in on another vehicle (a used Honda Passport). When Davis found out the finance charges would be extremely high (on $2,000 that was owed for the vehicle), he said he financed it and again told Jackson to pay $150 a month until it was paid off.

"This was not something I had not done for three or four other people," said Davis, who indicated he has helped out others in the past -- one individual living with himself, his wife and four children for two years.

"I realize I made a mistake, especially in lying to Rick. I knew (in giving things to Jackson and his mom) I was on the edge. The KU connection probably was a plus but unless you know my heart you cannot understand there are far bigger drives in my life.

"You are doing what comes naturally, at the same time you recognize there's a situation some others could interpret as not kosher. Darnell was totally blind to the fact there was anything wrong with this. This is my fault totally."

Jackson agrees.

"I did not think I was doing anything wrong," Jackson said. "I didn't know the rules, so you have to take your medicine and move on. It's a way of life."

Davis said KU officials were upset for his not speaking the truth to Evrard.

"I'm not proud of this. When the NCAA talked to me and I was totally honest Bill, Lew and everybody were totally disgusted with me (for not being truthful in the first place) and rightly so. I'm glad they came down hard on me. They should have."

Davis said he hopes forever more the focus will be on Jackson's career ... and personality.

"This kid has said things that bring tears to my eyes. He says, 'Like you, I want to be a dad, have kids to hug, help little kids," Davis said. "Would he like to be in the NBA? Sure. But his dreams are about other things -- being a good person, a good dad."

As far as Davis ... "I just want the world to know there are college students out there who don't eat and drink the NBA, what the world can give to me dream, but they dream about giving back and influencing people. That's Darnell Jackson."


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