Archive for Saturday, September 26, 2009

KU’s Perkins calls recent fights most complicated issue he’s dealt with

September 26, 2009


Following a particularly embarrassing week for the Kansas University athletic department, in which police responded to two incidents involving fighting between members of the school's football and men's basketball teams, KU athletic director Lew Perkins has found himself in the middle of a national story that has placed a harsh light on an otherwise promising sports season.

Speaking with members of the media prior to today's football game against Southern Mississippi at Memorial Stadium, Perkins shed little light on the details of the past week, but insisted it was a matter being handled with the utmost importance.

"I've been doing college athletic administration for over 40 years," said Perkins, "and I've never experienced anything like this."

"This might be the most complicated thing I've ever dealt with in my whole life," he added. "There's all kinds of different issues involved, all kinds of different people involved, and every time we kind of get where we are, another thing pops up."

As of this morning, no players had been publicly disciplined for their roles in the fights, despite witness accounts that multiple football and basketball players had thrown punches during a Wednesday morning scuffle outside of Wescoe Hall on the KU campus, a popular gathering place for students. The night before, police had been called to the Burge Union, where another fight — reportedly involving up to 30 or 40 people — had apparently broken out due to a dispute between a football and basketball player over a woman. The Tuesday night fight left Taylor, a starting guard, with a dislocated left thumb that could sideline him for up to four weeks.

Kansas football coach Mark Mangino, who has already held standout receiver Dezmon Briscoe out of one game this season, said Wednesday he hadn't been presented with information that would warrant suspensions, while men's basketball coach Bill Self indicated the following day that any disciplinary measures involving his players would be handled internally.

Perkins said today that he's always allowed coaches to handle disciplinary issues on their own, though, he added, he wouldn't hesitate to step in if he felt the situation warranted it.

"I've always had a policy that I've allowed our coaches to handle dicipline the way they want to with their teams," Perkins said. "Now, if it would ever escalate, or anything should escalate over and above what I would think coaches should be doing, then I would want to step in and deal with it. We're still gathering information, to be honest with you. We have to be very very careful with what we say and what we can't say and what we know and what we don't know, because if we're wrong for one reason or another — not that we're afraid of lawsuits, but we don't necessarily want lawsuits."

Perkins also addressed reports that a feud between the school's football and basketball teams had been festering for some time. Both Self and Mangino said this week they don't believe this to be the case, though a former football player on Wednesday told the Journal-World that issues between the university's two major programs have been evident in recent years, including an incident last year that began at a local bar and resumed at the Jayhawker Towers, where many of the school's athletes reside.

"There's been some discussion that maybe this has been going on for a long time," he said. "I'm quite honest as I am always, we did not know if it was factual, if it was, in fact, going on. And I honestly wish if some people knew, I wish they would have come told us so we could have dealt with it ... Right now, I would ask them to come talk to us."

At the moment, Perkins is working with university and law enforcement officials to piece together the particulars of the week's events, though he admitted specifics might never be pinned down.

"Will I ever know what the total story is? I don't think anybody will, the police, (anybody)," Perkins said. "I don't think the kids know. You talk to one kid that was there, you talk to another kid that was there, and you maybe get something similar, but it's not all similar. I think it happened so quickly, it happened so spontaneously, that it just got out of hand."


cabella 8 years, 8 months ago

If thats the hardest thing hes had to deal with... let me have his job for petes sake.

Steve Miller 8 years, 8 months ago

This might be the most complicated thing I've ever dealt with in my whole life

The reason being is that he doesn't want to disrupt the little guys and athletics department ( create any waves), . But yet he has to do somehting to save face. cabella has it right.. boo hoo.....

Jeremy Lichtenauer 8 years, 8 months ago

Cabella, do you know Lew's weekly salary is over $15,000? Yes, $15,000 per week! Clearly he's underpaid, having to deal with such life and death decisions.

davidsmom 8 years, 8 months ago

To be honest I thought this would have been enough of a distraction to cost the Jayhawks the game today. I listened on the radio and it sounded like the O-line was pretty weak (allowing 5 sacks?!!) and the defense wasn't exactly stellar, either. I'm glad they won but hope they play better next week. I do hope that something good comes out of this, and I expect the coaches to deal with it very well. It could've been a lot worse. I just can't believe the guys were fighting over a woman. That is SO middle school. Let's hope that this bad publicity for KU doesn't have long-term negative implications.

George_Braziller 8 years, 8 months ago

Lew - Kick them off the team, suspend them from playing, pull part of their signing package for their actions. It isn't that hard to deal with.

puddleglum 8 years, 8 months ago

yeh, this issue must be much harder than kicking people out of the seats they have held at allen fieldhouse for 35+ years.... more east-coast down-talk. thanks dude.

Tom McCune 8 years, 8 months ago

LOL. Big-time expert sports manager, worth an obscene salary, and this is the most complicated issue he's ever dealt with? Maybe he should apply for a management trainee job at Putt-Putt. They deal with thornier sports management issues every day.

Lew: kick their butts off the team and take away their scholarships. All of them. Period. That's all you need to do. How complicated is that?

davidsmom 8 years, 8 months ago

When the worst thing we have to worry about is a bunch of athletes acting like 7th graders, we really don't have it so bad. I totally agree they should be punished in some way and this should be nipped in the bud, but let's put it in perspective. It was childish, stupid and embarrassing. I read The Chronicle of Higher Education every day, and believe me when I say that the horrible things and scandals that take place around the country really make this seem like a small thing. It only seems big because it is athletics and it is a couple of programs that are now high profile, which is what we want.
There was the university in Michigan that had a girl raped and murdered in her dorm room, and they didn't tell her parents for several days. There have been administrators that have resigned over enormous scandals. Really, this will blow over, and as long as the coaches deal with it properly, we can consider ourselves blessed.

persevering_gal 8 years, 8 months ago

Why don't the investigators just ask the students (a.k.a. the eye witnesses)? Do you have any idea how many people were around at this time? It was in between class periods at a place where students and faculty intersect on campus. Many students were watching the fight while taking pictures, and video taping it. Bring a video forward and you have most of the details.

svenway_park 8 years, 8 months ago

For a million dollars a year (a million and a half with fringes and bonuses), I could handle an occasional fracas.

Godot 8 years, 8 months ago

If Perkins can resolve this ugly little conflagration, I have no doubt he will be on the O-man's short list for the next Czar for Peace in the Middle East.

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