Archive for Friday, November 13, 2009

New facility electric

November 13, 2009

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• Bill Self is, along with everything else, a super promoter, so when he calls the current Allen Fieldhouse package the best basketball venue in the world, some might be dubious. But Bill’s right. It’s fabulous! If you thought the Phog Bin was electric before, that was only a shadow of what you’ll find there this year. No way can you experience basketball in this new old barn without tingling, vibrating and delighting.

Only flaw I see is the lack of railings down the centers of aisles to help semi-cripples such as I to negotiate the steps easier, and more safely. The aisles may now be too narrow, but if such supports somehow could be installed, a lot of us rickety souls would feel far more comfortable moving around.

• USA Today is doing a series about college athletic costs and billowing football coach salaries, such as Mark Mangino’s $3 million layout at Kansas. The series also is focusing on the massive amounts being paid to assistants.

USA-T notes how stressed academic faculty and administrators everywhere are caught up in cost-cutting and justifiably resent that jock tutors’ incomes keep escalating.

At KU, according to the AAUP, the average salary of full professors is $117,300 a year. At Colorado, it’s $121,000; at North Carolina, $142,000. At KU, the average assistant football coach salary is about $195,000, led by Ed Warriner’s $300,000 and Clint Bowen’s $260,000. Lowest man on the totem pole draws $145,000, some $27,000 more than the prof average.

• The loss of a terrific citizen-KU loyalist like Dave Shirk causes a media freak such as I to wish there had been more time to visit and enjoy the great perspective he brought to the table as a former athlete, coach, soldier, farmer, teacher and family man.

He came to KU from El Dorado in 1935, starred as an all-league football end ’36-’38. He was captain of the 1938 KU team that upset Texas 19-18 and got All-America mention. He was drafted by the pro Steelers but chose teaching. Dave had personal connections with Phog Allen and James Naismith.

No scholarships, so he worked his way through school and, as adoring wife Margaret points out, played a role as a guinea pig (her chuckling term) for Doc Naismith, a researching physician. Phog and Dr. Jim both described Dave as “a noted athlete, a splendid gentleman, a true friend, a leader with exemplary habits.” He also performed in track and wrestling.

Shirk coached everything, football, basketball, track and golf, at Haskell, Augusta, Abilene and Seaman of Topeka and served (1943-47) in the wartime Army. His Augusta football team won a state championship. Dave also served as a teacher of many things. He and Margaret faithfully held season tickets for KU football and basketball since 1940.

Dave was almost 94 when he died Nov. 2, and he and Margaret (Lewis) had been married 69 years. Their family spans four generations. And what a lively bunch, who celebrate every day they had with Dave.

“When there are 69 wonderful years, you tend to be happy,” says Margaret, “and we were truly happy.” She might have had a little to do with that.

Damn, I, too, wish I’d had a lot more time to spend with Dave. I could always hope some of his class would rub off.

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