Just spin, baby…
What to do on the heels of the Kansas legislature’s embarrassing snub of the KU Athletics Department after it shot down a request to fund KU’s lavish $17.5 million luxury apartments for basketball recruits…
Especially with KU basketball deity Bill Self poised to clinch his 10th Big 12 title. After all, Self had shinnied out on a limb shilling for the pricey project, telling basketball devotees it was necessary to keep up with college powerhouses like Kentucky.
And trust me, nobody at the University of Kansas (or in Lawrence) dares disappoint Bill Self. Could cause him to eyeball one of those king-sized NBA paychecks lurking in the shadows.
What was the athletics department to do?
Why, put out a spin story, what else?
A story the Lawrence Journal World and Kansas City Star would swallow hook, line and sinker about the so-called “lead gift” for the Fieldhouse Apartments having been donated by a KC area booster.
Never mind that the amount of the donation was not revealed.
“I find it unusual that they didn’t announce the amount of the gift,” says a source. “Because with his other gifts to KU the amounts were revealed.”
“This is his dream child,” the source says of the booster. “He’s been masterminding this for a long time with Bill Self. He chartered a plane last year and flew Self and all his buddies to Scotland to play golf.”
The bottom line: KU needed a headline to wipe the egg off it’s face from the Kansas legislature’s snub and this more or less did the trick.
That said, it would appear the lion’s share of the funding remains to be raised, otherwise why bug the legislature to begin with? And probably because the size of the gift was either too nebulous or so small that they dared not release it.
Know this though, one way or the other, Self and KU will get their way.
“We’re in an arms race to compete for basketball athletes who are one and done and then headed to the NBA,” the source says. “So we’re going to build these really crazy, opulent apartments. I was a little surprised that they went ahead (and announced the project) at that moment, but I’d guess that (the “lead” booster) and a number of other donors made promises to Bill Self and they were backed into a corner and they had to do something.
“Basically they took a calculated risk that the popularity of KU basketball would carry the legislature, but the legislature isn’t that enamored with the liberal population of Lawrence and KU. And we have to be rational about the differences between the lifestyles here in Lawrence and everybody else’s in Kansas who lives west of Topeka.”