You know, the folks who pride themselves on putting one over on the general public and mild-mannered journalists almost as worried about not offending anyone in a position of “power” as they are of getting laid off.
Take the case of KU point guard Naadir Tharpe. In an announcement last week crafted by KU, Tharpe said he was leaving the team to move back east to be closer to his two year-old daughter who has health issues.
“Naadir has been a good player for us in his three years here,” Self is quoted in the release from KU. “But we also respect the fact that he wants to be closer to his daughter.”
One guy and one guy alone – Lawrence Journal World columnist Tom Keegan – had the guts to call bullshit on KU for its phoned-up quotes in the release about the reasons behind Tharpe’s departure.
And I can assure you that virtually nobody else halfway in the know is buying the excuse KU was serving up.
“No one buys that,” said one prominent Lawrence businesswoman. “Did you see the photo of him with that girl? The girl everyone thinks is a prostitute. She was topless and so was he and that wasn’t his first (major) offense.
“And he was also involved in a fight one year and involved in something else. Plus they were recruiting that other guard (Devonte Graham) – they signed him the next day.”
The consensus being that Tharpe’s poor play at guard and unseemly off court antics were at the heart of him leaving KU, and that he was probably forced off the team.
“The conventional wisdom is he’s leaving because of a scandal,” says the source. “There’s some truth to his daughter’s story but even though there’s truth to it, right now the daughter isn’t having any (major) issues – it said that in the press release. The bottom line is he wasn’t living up to the hype, so everybody thinks they forced him out.”
“Interviewing him for three years, I never once heard Naadir Tharpe say, ‘At this juncture.’ But there it was in the press release announcing his transfer, so he absolutely, 100 percent must have said it,” Keegan writes.
“Not only that, Tharpe used the phrase ‘Due to extenuating circumstances’ for what I believe possibly could be the first time in his life. And he used them both in the same paragraph. Clearly, he devoted a great deal of time in crafting his quote. He must have told himself: ‘I shan’t treat this matter with anything but utmost gravity.’
“An excerpt from the release included this Tharpe quote: ‘Due to extenuating circumstances within my personal life, I will no longer be attending the University of Kansas.’ “
“I’ve always liked Tharpe. Friendly, candid, good sense of humor.” Keegan continues. “Pity I didn’t get to know the fine lad well enough to converse with him to the point he felt comfortable speaking the King’s English. I read the release and pictured him sipping tea with legs crossed, scarf around his neck, patches on the elbows of his tweed jacket, lamenting, ‘Oh dear, wherever did I leave the crumpets?’ ”
Keegan stopped short of calling out the KU athletics department as liars, but his message was clear; when if ever will highly paid college sports officials stoop to being honest and letting reality find its way into the light of day?
“Do join me in sending a word Naadir’s way,” Keegan ended the column. “Cheerio!”
Of course that flew in the face of a large misleading headline on the front page of the Journal World’s sports section:
“Guard bolts to be closer to daughter.”