Hearne: A Call for Less Butt Kissing & More Tough Talk @ KU

kissing-assSay what you will, half a loaf’s almost always better than no loaf at all…

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 “the crude animal nature common to humans and the lower animals?”

If not, maybe he should have.

Jim Marchiony

Jim Marchiony

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.

 Sheahon Zenger aka the good cop

Sheahon Zenger
aka the good cop

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.

John Calipari No taxpayer rippoffs here

John Calipari
No taxpayer rippoffs here

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?

Just askin’

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9 Responses to Hearne: A Call for Less Butt Kissing & More Tough Talk @ KU

  1. Jim a.k.a. BWH says:

    Is there one single thing in this article that hasn’t been written about MULTIPLE times before on this site? One single new piece of information?

    Sorry. I can’t muster any outrage of anything big-time athletics does money-wise. The dollars are so enormous, fat-cat donors are always willing to pony up whatever money it takes to be competitive and the excesses across the board lavished on student-athletes is unreal.

    That’s just the deal. It doesn’t stop me from watching. Apparently, it doesn’t stop a lot of people from watching.

    • admin says:

      You’re right, Jim…

      However, in reviewing a column about criticism of KU being faulty, it was an opening to stitch it all together and call for more more critical reporting in the Star by influential columnists like Sam Mellinger

  2. Phaedrus says:

    I’m just waiting for the blowback on the players after a few poor seasons…”if you’re going to live in our $17 million dorm, you can’t keep losing in the 2nd round of the tournament. Your scholarship is revoked and you’re off the team!”

    The amount of money people donate to college athletics just boggles my mind. The sad thing is that all this money puts a ton of pressure on the coaches and players and therefore makes it less likely the players actually get an education (witness the Syracuse & UNC fiascos).

    This country’s priorities are completely fucked up.

  3. the dude says:

    So is that pic above supposed to represent glazer and harlinator?

  4. Jack Springer says:

    KU and kansas — delusions of grandeur gone berserk.

    Mellinger is only satisfying his base — and losing his credibility and character.

    • admin says:

      He’s a great writer, Jack…

      And a damn good thinker to boot. But for better and for worse, his mission is to jerk off jack sniffers and not run too far found of folks like the KU athletics department.

      These are unwritten rules that most smart writers at the Star fully understand.

      Which explains why Robert Trussell gives HUGE advertiser the New Theatre kid glove treatment in his reviews. So did his fellow arts writer Brian McTavish.

      That is, until I innocently asked Brian to review a New Theatre show five or so years ago and he ripped it beyond belief.

      Trust me, it was not a hot piece.

      Running at the time a pretty new website, I mainly wanted Brian to review the show as a service to readers. To my surprise, he burned them at the stake.

      I think it was pent up feelings from having to kiss up to them for so many years. It was a great review by the way; written incredibly well and funny beyond belief.

      Brian is such a great writer. Somebody needs to snatch him up ASAP since he’s recently back on the job market

  5. Patrick O'Malley says:

    Unfortunately Mellinger has fallen under the spell of Bill Self’s toupe.

  6. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    And people wonder why KSU, MU, NU, ISU etc fans in KC call it the “KU Star”. It’s a friggin’ JOKE how KU is treated with kid gloves by that rag. It’s shameful.

  7. balbonis moleskine says:

    hilarious article today from the Sports section trying to explain away how they failed to name Kentucky Jr. and all-american Cauley-Stein to the All-Metro team. I guess that honor is preserved for once-in-a-generation talents like JaRon, lol

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