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Recent Kansas editorials

November 6, 2018

The Lawrence Journal-World, Nov. 2

Editorial: KU can’t quit Adidas

The University of Kansas has made crystal clear that money comes first when it comes to its athletics programs. How else to explain the university’s desire to continue taking millions from Adidas while refusing to make public basic information regarding its deal with the shoe company?

Last month, three men were convicted of fraud for working on behalf of Adidas to funnel money to the families of some of the nation’s top basketball recruits to get the recruits to sign with Kansas and other schools with which Adidas has relationships.

The convictions mean the jury found that Adidas was to blame for the illegal payments without involvement from KU, though the judge didn’t allow into evidence text messages and call transcripts indicating KU coaches might have known more than the jury was made aware of. According to the trial, Adidas orchestrated this malfeasance on its own and victims like KU were defrauded, embarrassed, shamed, bamboozled and hoodwinked by the apparel company’s chicanery.

Because of Adidas, Billy Preston, whose family allegedly took money from Adidas to sign with KU, never played college basketball. Because of Adidas, Silvio De Sousa, whose guardian allegedly took money from Adidas to get De Sousa to sign with KU, is now being withheld from games until questions about his eligibility can be answered. It is Adidas money man T.J. Gassnola who exchanged texts with KU basketball coach Bill Self about taking care of De Sousa’s family, and Adidas consultant Merl Code who talked with KU assistant coach Kurtis Townsend in a phone call about the money and arrangements it would take to get the nation’s top recruit to KU.

So, why would KU’s leaders, who have known about the allegations against Adidas for more than a year, continue to be open to a partnership with Adidas? Why would KU still be accepting money from Adidas — at least $1.5 million in an extra payment, according to a statement by Kansas Athletics chief financial officer at a September board meeting?

The Journal-World filed a Kansas Open Records Act request seeking more information about the Adidas payments, but Kansas Athletics has refused to answer, twice saying personnel weren’t available to help with the open records request before coming clean Monday and simply denying the request. An attorney for KU cited a provision of the open records act that gives public entities the option to withhold the release of notes, preliminary drafts, research data in the process of analysis, unfunded grant proposals, memoranda, recommendations or “other records in which opinions are expressed or policies or actions are proposed.”

So, anyone who thought the leadership at KU — specifically Chancellor Douglas Girod and Athletic Director Jeff Long — might stand up to the shoe company that put such a negative spotlight on its basketball program should think again. Given how bad the optics of taking the Adidas money are, the only conclusion is that KU must really need it.

The fraud trial exposed a money-driven cesspool into which many college basketball programs, including KU, willingly dived. Sadly, it appears KU has decided its best bet is to just keep swimming.

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The Manhattan Mercury, Nov. 1

The city this week launched a party-registration program, which is a nice idea, if a bit idealistic.

Officials want residents to fill out a form when they’re planning to have a kegger or other shindig. Then, if said party gets too noisy, the police department will have a contact person to call and warn before they resort to sending officers there to break things up.

Practically speaking, it could be a good thing. The intent is to reduce the number of visits by police officers for noise complaints. As taxpayers, we want the government to make the best possible use of resources.

What’s in it for party hosts? Well, theoretically, it makes them look responsible and proactive, and it opens lines of communication with law enforcement.

That said, we’re not sure how many people will take the step of tipping off the cops to a party, especially if they expect it to get wild.

The program is a partnership with K-State, the Riley County Police Department (RCPD) and the Manhattan city government. Officials said some other college towns across the country have similar initiatives.

Registration includes providing the address and date of the event as well as the name and phone number for the primary and secondary contacts (who must be tenants or property owners at the party location).

We agree with RCPD director Brad Schoen, who said his department is basically taking a wait-and-see approach.

“We’ve had some internal discussions and have a good degree of curiosity about how popular this is going to be and whether it will work or not,” he said.

We hope that it will be a great success.

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