Views from Kansas: KU’s terrible public relations

Editor’s Note: Views from Kansas is a regular feature that highlights editorials and other viewpoints from across the state.

This will be a much different editorial than it could’ve been. Or should’ve been.

That’s because we were ready to take up for the University of Kansas, if it turns out that a consultant it hired has, as the university claims, essentially exonerated its men’s basketball and football programs of the current charges of serious NCAA violations.

We can’t do that. First, because the university is inexplicably refusing to release the findings of the expert it hired. Second, because the university, through its public relations department, stiff-armed our offer to tell the story and, if the report were persuasive, to ballyhoo it.

“Thanks for reaching out,” KU Director for News and Media Relations Erinn Barcomb-Peterson wrote in reply to our request. “The university will continue to cooperate with the NCAA enforcement process and looks forward to submitting its Response to the Notice of Allegations. We will make that response public when it is submitted.”

That’s it? Isn’t there just a sniff of condescension there? How about in Chancellor Douglas Girod’s reported response to the Lawrence Journal-World when it asked him why the public should just accept KU’s word on the report? “It’s your job if you want to believe it or not.”

If the NCAA investigated violations of basic public relations precepts, it might just sanction KU for this one.

Even with the offer to do so, there’s utterly zero interest at KU in informing the public about alleged good news that reflects well on the institution.

The brush-off, and the decision not to release an allegedly positive report, is even more perplexing considering that KU has endured a slew of bad press in recent weeks since the NCAA announced its deadly serious notice of violations against the institution, the programs and basketball coach Bill Self: five against men’s basketball, and two against football.

It all makes you wonder: How secretive would KU be if the consultant’s report on the athletic department was less than flattering?

The Kansas Open Records Act may afford KU the opportunity to withhold such a report, since it involves an administrative review or lawsuit. But neither does the law compel the university to keep it under wraps.

You would think a favorable and authoritative picture of an athletic department under siege would be something the university would be eager for the public to see.

Yet, when they claim a consultant’s report essentially clears them and allegedly concludes they were following “the industry standard,” university officials couldn’t care less what the public knows or thinks about the situation and the school?

Don’t the concerns of loyal fans and a supportive public warrant a little more consideration?

— Originally published in the Kansas City Star


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