The vote was unanimous. Lawrence city commissioners voted to name a city street immediately north of Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium as “Fambrough Drive” in honor of the late Jayhawk football coach, Don Fambrough.
Some local residents are pleased with this action; others were opposed but, for one reason or another, did not want to voice their objections; and still others probably didn’t care one way or another.
Fambrough played football at KU, coached and was fired twice as the school’s football coach. He was considered one of the most intense, outspoken critics of the Missouri Tigers.
Fambrough fans believed one of the best ways to remember the fiery ex-coach, who died in September, would be to name a city street adjacent to the football stadium in honor of their hero.
Again, some residents are happy; loyal Fambrough supporters are happy. Other residents think it was a mistake but didn’t want to say anything publicly, and many residents probably don’t care. However, city officials should take far more care concerning future requests for renaming city streets.
True, Fambrough was a colorful character, well-liked by many. But the question is: Where do you draw the line on changing the names of city streets?
If such a decision or honor is based on recognizing contributions to the university, how about former Chancellor Franklin Murphy or other chancellors — or others in the athletic field, such as the late Arthur “Dutch” Lonborg, who served with honor as the university’s athletic director or a basketball coach such as Roy Williams, a football player such as Gale Sayers or a basketball player? How about the internationally known KU basketball coach Forrest “Phog” Allen or many others who have distinguished themselves and brought honor to the school, Lawrence and the state? Would Ford Motor Co. president and Lawrence native Alan Mulally rate consideration?
The short section of 11th Street soon will be called Fambrough Drive and will intersect with Missouri Street, much to the delight of either Fambrough fans, Missouri haters or both. Fambrough Drive also will intersect with Fambrough Way, a private street just west of Memorial Stadium that university officials already had planned to rename in honor of the former coach — again, a coach who was fired twice.
It’s fine for the university to rename a campus street in honor of a noted individual, but, in the future, it is hoped city officials will give far more serious consideration to changing the names of streets as a means to please fans or a given individual or for other questionable reasons.