Kansas Writer Lives In Fantasyland

One night recently, while preparing for my radio show, I came across an article written by Bill Mayer of KUSports.com that’s laugh out loud funny. If you’re a college basketball fan and you’re looking for some levity in your life then you must read his piece called Kentucky Basketball Victories Tainted

In the article, Mayer states, “Kentucky with its tainted history has registered 2,011 victories to sit atop the college basketball heap. Now North Carolina (1,997) and Kansas (1,993) are neck and neck in an exciting race to the 2,000 level. Kentucky may have hit 2,000 first but KU and UNC will do so more honorably.”

Now, I may be from Kentucky and I may have attended the University of Kentucky but I’m not really here to defend Kentucky. Some points do need to be disputed, but when you have multiple probations in one sport, then being viewed as a dirty program is the price you pay. The Cats have conducted themselves dishonorably at times by showing disregard for compliance. That cannot be denied but how do you, with a straight face, claim Kansas HAS been honorable in the race to 2000?

Are we talking about the same Kansas Program? The Kansas program that won the 2008 national title while ON probation? The Kansas program that was prevented from defending its previous National Championship in 1988 because of probation? The same Kansas program that’s been cited by the NCAA, per the NCAA’s major violations database, for violations on five separate occasions (57, 60, 72, 88, 06)? For comparisons sake, Kentucky has been cited four times (53, 76, 88, 89). 1988 and 1989 were part of the same investigation.

Two of Kansas’ three national championships have been tainted by compliance issues yet their success, according to Mr. Mayer, is honorable. How can a journalist write this and maintain any credibility at all? Even Kansas fans have to be wondering how it’s possible to leap to that conclusion.

By now, Jayhawk fans probably are cursing my name and claiming that I’m a hater. Hardly, I have great appreciation for Kansas basketball. Their place in the pantheon of great NCAA programs is secure. They are the cradle of college coaching. When you have names like Phog Allen, Dean Smith, and James Naismith attached to your program then you are legendary. You also have the name of Adolph Rupp attached to your program as well. That should be celebrated not scorned as suggested by Mr. Mayer.

Rupp’s reputation has taken a beating since his death. Everyone has heard about his supposed bigotry because UK didn’t integrate as quickly as others. However, there is a mountain of evidence that suggests that people’s perception of Rupp is flawed.

He did many great things on the integration front that never seems to get reported. Things like integrating high school basketball in Freeport, Illinois in the 1920’s when it was really unpopular.

Like giving coaching seminars and donating uniforms and equipment to traditional black high schools in the 40’s and 50’s.

Like helping black athletes like Jim Tucker land scholarships at northern schools like Duquesne.

Like petitioning the SEC twice to integrate, but was denied.

Like helping integrate the 1948 Olympic team with the addition of Don Barksdale, an African American, on the team that Rupp helped coach. An interesting note, Barksdale later claimed that Rupp was his best friend on the team. How is possible for an African American and a bigot be such good friends?

Those are all facts that are convientantly left out of the Adolph Rupp story today.

He also was the driving force behind the establishment of the Shriners Hospital for Children. A facility that has helped thousands of children have normal lives, including my daughter Kate.

Now, I don’t know what was in Rupp’s heart. Nobody does. You can only judge a man by his actions and Rupp had plenty of actions to dispute this long held notion that he was a mean uncaring man of prejudice. He is a man to be proud of, even by Kansas fans.

As far as NCAA violations and Rupp are concerned. Adolph was never accused of cheating in his 42 years at UK. The only sanctions brought against the Cats with Rupp at the helm was the embarrassing point shaving scandal in the fifties, something Rupp clearly had no involvement in. In fact those closest to Adolph say that he never got over it.

Mayer speculates that Kentucky was likely a dirty program under Rupp yet he doesn’t support it with facts, only opinions. I could do the same to the great Phog Allen but won’t. I have no knowledge of what kind program Mr. Allen ran but neither does Mayer when it comes to Rupp.

Not surprisingly, Mayer also takes a stab at the new Kentucky coach John Calipari. He points out that Kentucky’s rogue ways continue with the hiring of a coach with two final fours vacated because of the use of ineligible players (it should be pointed out that the second came after the hire).

Never mind the fact that any school would have used Derrick Rose because the NCAA clearinghouse cleared him to play only to rule him ineligible after the season was complete. Never mind that no coach in his right mind would approve and assist a player in getting money from an agent in the midst of a potential championship season.

Still, the facts are true and cannot be denied and the head coach has to be held accountable and everyone is holding Cal responsible.

What also cannot be denied is that Kansas also hired a coach with a vacated final four in his past. They hired Larry Brown, whose 1980 UCLA team was stripped of their runner-up finish. Brown also won a national championship at Kansas and landed the Jayhawks on probation. How honorable.

For all of the perceptions of Calipari, he has never been cited for a single NCAA violation. Something that former Kansas coach Roy Williams and current Kansas coach Bill Self can’t claim.

Again, Kansas fans are probably furious at me because they’ll see what I’ve written as an argument that UK is better than KU. Wrong, I’m only arguing that KU is no better than UK, at least when it comes to honor. When it comes to wins, that’s a different story…that’s where UK is better than KU.

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13 Responses to Kansas Writer Lives In Fantasyland

  1. Jamie says:

    Great response Larry. You really need to consider distributing this to many of the national media outlets. It will get the story out about Kentucky and help you gain deserved recognition on your writing and communication skills!

    Great Job and Thanks for taking advantage of the fact you have a large voice for the University of Kentucky Wildcats!


  2. Ryan says:

    As a Kansas fan I could not agree more. Kansas has it’s own problems. Bill Mayer is an old crotchety man who should not be taken seriously. Please UK fans lets settle it on the court. Rock Chalk Jayhawk. Fear the Phog!

  3. Tim says:

    Hey Larry, great article!

    For all you True Blue fans out there, go read the Mayer article for yourself and see just how asinine his comments are. I would strongly suggest that you read some of the comments too, that way you can see just how “classless” many Jayhawk fans are. I know not all Jayhawk fans are that way, but as Brad Nessler said after the MSU game the other night, all it takes is a couple idiots to make your entire program look bad.

    Anyways, this is something to feel good about BBN. When you are at the top, everyone will throw stones at you.

  4. Marco says:

    I’m a Kansas fan, too. It is quite a chore to write on this subject and remain unbiased… but you did a great job, Larry! You pointed out the hypocrisy in Mayer’s article without creating your own pool of hypocrisy.

    Neither school is in a position to point fingers. Your blog doesn’t point fingers but exposes the wine stains on Mayer’s hands.

    Let’s all hope these two great teams get the opportunity to meet on the floor this year!

  5. David Ball says:

    let those without sin cast the first stone…in the world of college basketball…good luck finding a school that hasn’t sinned…in fact, look at the source…the NCAA can’t even take blame on the clearing of Rose to play at Memphis…but still a great article…

  6. Tinker says:


    That is the thing I think I most admire about you — you can present an unbiased opinion even though you went to UK. In fact, when I first started listening to you, I didn’t have a clue you were an alumnus of UK!

    I have to say I’m proud of the KU fans that left comments too. They also didn’t show bias even though their hearts are with KU.

    Mayer is the one that needs to see this response along with the KU comments . . .

  7. Blaine says:

    Please write one about Pat Forde now too. I beg you!!!!

  8. bigdancehawk says:

    While I agree with most of this and it’s true that both programs have been “tainted” by some NCAA violations, the implication that Larry Brown acted dishonorably at KU is a bum rap, IMO.

    The 1986 incident that led to KU’s probation involved a visiting recruit, Vincent Askew. Askew’s grandmother, who had raised him, was gravely ill. Brown gave the kid airfare so he could visit her before she died. KU self-reported this to the NCAA and Askew never attended KU. Was this a violation at the time? Sure. Was it dishonorable? I don’t think so.

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