Hearne: The Downhill Slide of KU Basketball No One Wants to Talk About

UnknownOnce upon a time there were such things as school spirit

Back when movies were often black and white and people went to colleges near where they were from or had ideological connections to. And they played sports for those school’s teams. Undoubtedly allowances made for the jocks – they always are – but still the kids had to attend classes and get passing grades.

Pretty quaint, huh?

Larger schools drew larger talent pools and often fielded superior teams. And some schools specialized in sports like golf or ice hockey or even the un-American sport of soccer. And tiny midwestern flyover states like Kansas – however unlikely – managed to attain a measure of success in “major” sports like football, basketball, even track.

Ever heard of a kid from Wichita named Jim Ryun, the first high schooler to break the four minute mile in 1964?

Athletes usually went to college all four years (if they measured up) before turning pro and state university athletics officials were expected to be entirely ethical if they wanted to keep their jobs.

All of that of course was long before Joe Paterno and Lew Perkins.

And before the expression, “Just win, baby!”

Which brings us to the KU basketball of today and coach Bill Self…

Because now, even in the sleepy city of Lawrence, Kansas, the future of KU basketball is being decided by proxy by men with fat wallets and questionable ethics. Men who dictate that basketball at Kansas will be conducted on a win at all costs basis, regardless the consequences.

And that quarter million dollar plus apartments must be built to attract “one and done,” high school athletes like KU freshman Andrew Wiggins who only intend to play one year of college basketball before – knock on wood – heading to the NBA.



Because otherwise the mighty Kentucky might lure those players with its new Wildcat Coal Lodge, a dorm so luxurious it has no couches in it, only recliners. A living quarters for the school’s prized basketball recruits that’s stocked with pool tables, flat screen televisions, even a private chef.

So now KU’s big money boosters insist that Kansas too must have such a facility.

That way KU can spoil its one year wonders to the tune of $265,000 per apartment and then lose to lesser teams with lesser players who win because they’re in it for all four years and can beat the inexperienced superstars of tomorrow. Because the one and dones are still just kids – future superstars perhaps, future millionaires maybe – but still just young, inexperienced, barely-out-of-high school kids.

Kids who don’t care what state they play for or in, or what uniform they wear. They want recliners and private chefs and a taste of the trappings of their hoped-for tomorrows as multi millionaires.

Screen-shot-2012-09-07-at-9.38.34-AMAnd they want it now and KU wants them at all cost.

Because otherwise basketball coach Bill Self would have to recruit players based on things like the school’s storied legacy, his acclaimed coaching skills and on the value of getting an education. Because not everyone who looks like a potential future millionaire gets to become one. And because many of those that do fritter away those earnings foolishly because they were ill prepared to handle the trappings of money and fame.

And perhaps because – unwisely – they based their decision on where to go to college on the bait laid before them by sleazeball basketball boosters in a flyover state. At a school that didn’t have the guts to say no to a multi millionaire basketball coach with a wildly expensive home and hairpiece.

A school and a coach that otherwise well might be able to attract and build teams that would blow away that of the Wichita States and Stanfords – schools that are attaining similar and at times better results for pennies on the dollar – by doing things the old-fashioned way.

You know, ethically.

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21 Responses to Hearne: The Downhill Slide of KU Basketball No One Wants to Talk About

  1. Jim says:

    Welcome to the real world of big time college athletics, Hearne. Where have you been?! You could have plugged in Alabama, Oregon, Texas, Auburn, Oklahoma, Okie State, TaM, any school in the SEC, any school in the Pac 12 or any school in the B1G. There’s been an arms race in college athletics for a LOOOOONG time. The billion dollar TV contracts that conferences are getting has assured the fact that it isn’t going to end anytime soon. But, you think it is somehow unethical? Why? Is it absurd, ridiculous and borderline obscene? Sure. But, unethical? Is it unethical for daddy to buy his 16 year old JoCo kid a $70K Porsche to drive to high school? Same thing.

    • admin says:

      I’m with you, Jim…

      I know this isn’t an overnight thing. But not everybody is doing it and more than open wrong doesn’t make anything right.

      So Kentucky spends $7 million buying a fancy dorm for its lottery NBA picks and now Kansas comes up with a deal to spend more than double that amount.

      At what point – if ever – does sanity return to state-funded educational institutions. Or is it only all about winning?

      If that’s the case we shouldn’t be at all surprised when situations like at Penn State exists. Or at Kansas with Lew Perkins and his henchmen, one of whom is still fairly large and in charge.

      It’s not unethical for “daddy” to buy his kid a Porsche. Poor judgement is a better term for that.

      Because regardless of where KU comes up with the money, they’re playing on the not-for-profit card and sending the wrong message to both the kids they’re trying to seduce as well as the ones who are there to receive an education.

      One of the nicest guys going in Kansas City is a businessman named Larry Belger whose family owned Belger Cartage. And his dad bought his 16 year-old son a brand new Corvette when the body style first changed to its basic current look.

      Nobody took any tax breaks on that one, the Kansas Legislature wasn’t called upon to sanction the deal and it didn’t involve a bunch of meddling rich guys conspiring to push it through.

      • Jim says:

        Well aware of Larry Belger. My dad has worked for the Belger family for over 40 years. At age 83, he still does.

  2. Biff Loman says:

    Ryun. Jim Ryun

  3. Hot Carl says:

    This has been going on since college athletics first began. No story here. Jim’s post above is exactly right.

  4. Shawnster says:

    You got that right Hearne. It’s a new era in college basketball. If you sell your soul for one-and-dones, you can kiss any hpe for national titles goodbye. There is one exception to that rule and it’s John Calipari at Kentucky. Unlike Self, Calipari can actually coach these type of kids up. KU decided what type of school they want to be and they have to live with those decisions. They have ceded their position as the preeminent basketball power in the midwest to Wichita State and will continue to do so as long as they continue in this folly.

  5. hot harley says:

    wrong again hearne.
    If you’re bill self and Andrew wiggins says he wants to come to ku…what do you
    do….TURN HIM DOWN?
    or if john calipari gets 5 top recruits to say yes they want to play for him…whats
    he to say? no…don’t come to Kentucky.
    Have you not seen whats going on in the world?
    When lew Alcindor told his coach he wanted to play at ucla…did the coach
    tell him no?
    It’s the way of the world today. Money…money….money and no one gives
    a damn.
    Whats wrong with building a castle for the ball kids at ku? They sweated and
    played to make the money…give them something for their efforts.
    Your comment about self is totally off. He knows to compete and keep the
    Jayhawk faithful happy with their huge expectations he has to build bigger and
    better facilities or he’ll lose those top recruits to other schools.
    You’re naïve to think this wont change. Why shouldn’t wiggins and embiid
    and selden get millions if someone will pay them that money.
    Noone puts a gun to the nba owners who signs those checks to pay those
    kids that kind of money….there’s a very solid business reason they do it…
    and don’t be surprised to find there’s huge tax breaks for teams depreciating
    their players like companies depreciate their assets or equipment.
    NBA is a monopoly andthey get huge huge tax breaks….so theres probably
    a very very good reason they pay these kids that kind of money.
    The owners of nba teams are highly successful business people in other
    industries….they’re no dummies.
    Sure ku can say no to all the top 50 recruits….but why? It takes talent to
    compete and bring in money to the university and with fat Charlie not
    carrying his part of the money deal self has to bring in all the cash he can.

    Get used to it hearne. Its part of todays world. Its the golden rule….he who
    has the gold…rules!
    Stop being so ignorant of whats happening. In your little bubble you might
    not see it…but for the rest of us in the real world….its all about the dough!!!!!
    NOt that we like it…but that’s whats going on.
    And while these kids are rolling…we have 45 million americans on food
    stamps ….unemployment benefits cut …….prgrams for research on
    cancer slashed….and you wonder whats going on?
    the top 1% have gotten hold of the government and they’re going tosqueeze
    every last dime out of the rest of us. They’ll give us a few bread crumbs but
    its a very sad day in America right now!!!!!!!
    wake up….

    • admin says:

      Life’s too short to read your elongated posts, Harley, so allow me to answer your silly, initial question.

      If Andrew Wiggens wants to come to KU should Bill Self turn him down? What, you couldn’t think of anything dumber to ask me?

      First of all, it’s hardly that simple. But in your scenario the answer would be, no.

      A better question would be, should Bill Self build a nearly $300,000 place for Wiggins to live to spend but a single year playing basketball at KU? No again.

      Does KU half to do that? No.

      Should taxpayers shoulder the expense of KU doing that? Another no.

      • hot harley says:

        the questionwill be hearne…
        is Kansas willing to lose self over this issue? they could
        will the top players come to Kansas without these
        expensive condos to live in? maybe not
        will they be built? Yes!
        the state wastes billions….why not build the condos
        and keep self…because self is probably tired of
        pulling the athletic departments expenses by himself.
        Will self get whatever he wants if hegoes somewhere else..
        lets say like Oklahoma state/or duke/or north Carolina…
        the answer is HELL YES.
        to keep self the university better come up with the money
        or the state better kick in some cash or self may
        be packing his bags for somewhere else real soon.
        Whatself wants…self is going to get….one way or another.
        JUST A FACT MR. HC…..you gotta learn to live in the
        real world dude……no more make believe land please!!!!!!!

        • admin says:

          That’s pretty much the prevailing wisdom in Lawrence; that whatever Bill Self wants he gets.

          Personally, I wonder how much more of Lawrence Bill Self can take?

          • hot harley says:

            uh…they better learntotake a lot hearne…
            because without self bringing in these
            super young stars Lawrence is just another
            dusty exit on I 70.
            And besides what has ku given self.
            the old field house is nothing compared to the
            gems other schools have built. They put some
            money into fixing it up but I can imagine the
            team areas are pretty meager. They drop a
            little money there but nothing big.
            The guy walks into ok state/duke/nc/
            missour (where theres a quarter billion waiting
            to be spent) and wonders …”hey I bring this
            team to the top and what have I gotten…
            nothing…but a lot of b.s. and crap to handle
            with ticket thieves/mad alumni/town gossip..
            do I need all this crap in this small town
            goober stop?”
            no he doesn’t and theres about 100 schools
            ready to take him.
            the dude in still water would build him anyting
            he wanted…
            so ku and Kansas better get their stuff together…
            there aren’t many young great coaches
            like self out there to be had!!!!!!!
            Better chuck up the bucks or self is bye bye!!!
            the clock is ticking!!!!!!

          • admin says:

            Look, I’m no Scribe but…

            It seems to me, with KU’s basketball pedigree and Self’s coaching rep, they would be able to recruit a lot better four year athletes than Stanford and Wichita State. And they’d pick up the odd one and done or two and done as well.

            But by not focusing entirely on the one and cones with $265,000 condos, etc. they could build veteran teams that would kick schools like Kentucky’s butts with their all freshman squads.

            Am I wrong?

      • hardly says:

        Half to do that? That sounds like something I would write!

  6. Kyle says:

    I agree with you, Hearne, to an extent. But it seems like you want KU to adopt some kind of “holier-than-thou” attitude and try to compete with Kentucky, UNC, etc. while giving themselves distinct disadvantages. It’s not KU’s responsibility to fix the shady, somewhat corrupt system. As the old saying goes, “don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

    I’m a KU homer so I feel compelled to point out that KU has a perfect score in the NCAA’s APR scoring and was the ONLY team in the tournament to achieve that (http://www.kansascity.com/2014/03/17/4896946/eight-teams-in-ncaa-tournament.html). I’m sure someone will say KU cheats to achieve that, and I guess that’s possible, but they haven’t been caught or accused of anything like that so I’m going to say it’s a positive.

    The basketball program funds every other sport at KU. It delivers awareness and interest in the school that nothing else the University could realistically ever do. And it’s a point of pride for thousands of alums and the people of Kansas, all of whom may donate more to the school (not just the athletic dept.) because of it.

    Again, I’m a homer so I realize there’s a counter to all I said. But the point is, the basketball program is following the rules of a broken system and doing a great job at it, delivering a huge return for the school, which is more than enough to offset the cost of the new apartments.

  7. Waddell says:

    All Kansans are Burfords.

  8. PB says:

    “But not everybody is doing it and more than open wrong doesn’t make anything right.”

    They’re not doing it because they can’t, not because of any adherence to a code of ethics. Short memory, admin as the Gene Smithson Era at Wichita State was full “trangressions” of this sort.

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