And to his credit, in the case of Star sports scribe Sam Mellinger it’s usually a very tasty half. What goes missing often unfortunately is much in the way of a perspective on how out of proportion with the universe our obsession with sports has become – college sports especially.
Case in point, Mellinger’s column, “Criticism of KU is Faulty.”
One need look no further than the University of Kansas athletics department to find the perfect poster child for criticism. Yet in a lengthy column defending the downward slide of KU’s basketball program, Mellinger points to the athletics department’s excesses in lauding its success.
Long as you win Big 12 championships, why sweat the ethical stuff?
Mellinger points to coach Bill Self‘s $50 million contract and an under construction $17 million luxury dorm for players (men only for now, sorry grrrls).
He then playfully describes KU basketball as a “tempestuous beast.”
Was that a slip or was Sam actually likening KU’s basketball buffs to “
If not, maybe he should have.
Mellinger skitters past moral issues like using an FAA loophole to bag taxpayers for $1.5 million a year for jet usage by KU coaches, choosing instead to defend KU’s worsening basketball record by comparing it to other college basketball powerhouses in decline like North Carolina and Duke.
The “one and done” player phenomenon in college basketball has not been kind to tradition rich teams with older coaches used to keeping kids for two, three – even four years – before they spring for the NBA. The game’s changed because of that and they have to recruit twice as hard. Meaning more expensive jet flights for Kansas taxpayers.
On top of that, to court these naive, young athletes from homes of modest means, like Kentucky, KU wants to try and lure them with flashy things like luxury condos and $8 million jets. You know, so as to instill in them the finest in modern values.
That might not appear quite so bogus if you didn’t have dudes like KU associate athletics director Jim Marchiony pointing guns to ticketholder’s heads while discrediting their contributions to the educational side of KU’s ledger while trying to extort money for the athletics side.
It’s no secret that many longtime KU donors have been soured by the treatment they’ve gotten from Marchiony and the athletics department and stopped writing checks to KU altogether.
Why KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and nice guy athletics director Sheahon Zenger continue to put up with these sort of bully tactics is a mystery to many.
Then again, KU’s sports authorities raised more than $91 million in 2013 and money talks.
Given the athletics’ department’s largess, when KU’s student body voted to reduce its minuscule fees, Marchiony fly swatted the students by ripping off their best basketball seats and selling them off to wealthy boosters.
“During this process, the student government made it clear to us that they wanted us to find other sources of revenue other than the student athletic fee, and that is what we’ve done,” Marchiony sneered.
The college kids wanted to save a few bucks being paid to an organization clearly not in need, and instead they get shafted by a Lew Perkins holdover making more than $250,000 a year playing bad cop for Zenger.
Everything is about basketball and the almighty buck at KU.
When the athletics department tried to jam a $17.5 million bond deal for luxury apartments for men and women athletes through the Kansas Legislature and it was rejected, they quietly kicked the women athletes to the curb and went the men only route. They’ll get around to the women in “phase two.”
By the way, the math on that deal works out to $265,000 cost per resident versus $68,000 cost per resident for the other new dorms being built on campus.
Those KU athletics officials are sneaky too.
In conning KU Endowment into kicking in $8 million for a pricy private jet, they stuck taxpayers with the $1.5 million a year bill for Self and company to trip the light fandango. You know, because an obscure FAA rule won’t allow KU to bill the athletics department for the flights.
Meanwhile though, Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari is kicking Self and KU’s butts while criss-crossing the country on private rental jets with the school’s athletics department – not taxpayers – paying all the bills.
Is that criticism of KU also faulty? Or just MIA.
Why can’t we see a little more of that sort of reporting instead of mostly ass kissing?