December 7, 2023

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

KU Basketball Fans Don’t Know What to Think

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Basketball is the sport that pays for all the others on the KU campus.

According to the University Daily Kansan, fans are not conflicted about the play of their team. Hardly! The #3-ranked Jayhawks, a perennial national power, knocked off #2-ranked Baylor at a packed Allen Fieldhouse Wednesday night.

No, the conflict for the students comes with deciding whether they should be rooting for this team at all. This is potentially a huge problem at a university whose basketball team is the big earner in a $100 million a year athletic department.

Five of the players–senior guard Frank Mason III, freshman guard Josh Jackson, sophomore guard Lagerald Vick, freshman forward Mitch Lightfoot and junior guard Tucker Vang–are listed as witnesses to the alleged rape of a sixteen year-old in the basketball dorm on December 17. Mason and Jackson are the team’s top two scorers.

Vick’s problems were just beginning. On January 30, the Kansas City Star reported that a University of Kansas investigation ruled it “likely” that Vick had punched a female student multiple times and kicked her in the face. The university’s Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access recommended two years of school probation. Although the investigation concluded a year ago, Vick is still playing. He is the sixth highest-playing scorer on the team. He hasn’t missed a game.

The university stonewalled the Star on details. “Due to federal law,” said Joe Monaco, director of strategic communications for KU’s public affairs office, “and to protect the rights of all individuals involved, the university cannot comment on individual IOA investigations.”

Carlton Bragg, the team’s seventh highest scorer, has fared even worse than Vick. On January 26 of this year Coach Bill Self suspended Bragg for a “violation of team rules.” Four days later, Bragg was charged by the police with possession of drug paraphernalia. This was Bragg’s second suspension in two months. In December he was suspended after being arrested for battery, a charge that was later dropped.

Given the Byzantine politics that surround sex and violence on campus today, it is prudent not to rush to judgment. That said, the KU students are understandably conflicted.
“I was kinda disappointed really,” sophomore Anna Donovan told the Daily Kansan. “Because you cheer for these guys multiple times a week and they do something off the court that puts the team in a really uncomfortable position.”

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