As if athletic director Lew Perkins didn’t have enough things bumming him out Wednesday, he just had to know his archenemy, T-shirt creator Larry Sinks of Joe College, was busy at work cashing in on his misery.
Sure enough, Sinks, a marketing genius, already had come up with a blue and white T-shirt sure to be a big seller. On the front, in block lettering: “HAWK FOOTBALL & BASKETBALL.” On the back, in cursive: “Can’t We All Just Get Along?”
Funny, but not nearly the funniest thing printed Wednesday in Lawrence. That came hours later, when the athletic department issued a “statement,” from six student-athletes, the captains from the football and basketball teams. The “statement” did not explain just how these six young men came up with the exact same words to say simultaneously, so we’ll assume it was just a remarkable coincidence.
It was four paragraphs and could be summed up in four words: Blah, blah, blah, blah.
A request for an interview of Tyshawn Taylor was not granted. The basketball players were shielded from interviews. Is Taylor sorry about throwing a punch that resulted in a dislocated thumb? Or is he proud? On his Facebook page he indicated it was no big deal, just something the newspaper was blowing out of proportion. Wednesday afternoon, as he passed a few media members, he glared at them, hardly looking contrite.
Nobody from the KU athletic department stepped in front of a TV camera to apologize for athletes embarrassing the entire university and by extension the entire state of Kansas. Something this serious called for either Perkins or the new chancellor, Bernadette Gray-Little, to serve as face of the university. Perkins’ statement said he was taking this “seriously.” The chancellor issued an impressive statement in a release, other than the part about calling the statement from the teams’ leaders “strong.” Lame would have been a better word, since one statement had six names on it. It would have been so much more powerful had Perkins or Gray-Little taken questions from the media in a live press conference. If that doesn’t happen soon, this story lingers. Here’s guessing the chancellor doesn’t want that.
Nobody stepped in front of a TV camera to share his or her revulsion over the words Taylor used on his Facebook page. All the student-athletes, by the way, are told every year to avoid putting anything on their Facebook pages they wouldn’t want to read or see on the Internet message boards and in newspapers. Some listen. Some don’t. Taylor didn’t fear discipline from his coaches when he wrote disgusting words, some apparently from garbage lyrics, on his page. Time for the basketball staff to crack down on the players’ use of social media, lest the public find out what some of them are really like.
The fact there was a fight between football and basketball players Tuesday night that was reported on and another broke out Wednesday shows the players responsible don’t appear afraid of consequences.
KU football coach Mark Mangino has shown time and time again he doesn’t care how much talent a player has when doling out suspensions (Aqib Talib, Dezmon Briscoe). Can the same be said of basketball coach Bill Self? Not if Taylor doesn’t get suspended.