TIME FOR A DIVORCE OR, AT LEAST, A
Just when memories of the bitterness by UVA supporters that accompanied Ronald Curry's decision to attend UNC were about to fade. another situation has developed with another school which has far reaching effects. Many people thought the situation with Kansas U. would have cooled off by now. but it seems to have plenty of steam left and the Padgett re-recruitment has added fuel to the controversy.
I would like to make a modest proposal. A divorce seems to be in order for the UNC-Kansas relationship, a relationship that I was never comfortable with and one that probably won't die for years to come. If a divorce is not called for. then certainly a separation would be appropriate in this situation.
Everyone knows what the basic problem between the two schools is, and both schools should share part of the blame. It was the decision of Roy Williams to return to UNC after he had led his Kansas following to believe he had chosen to spend the rest of his professional career as a Jay Hawk. I don't know what role Coach Smith played in Coach Williams' decision to return to Chapel Hill and probably never will. But it's reasonable, I think, to believe that he played some role in Williams' decision to return. That possibility just makes the situation worse in the eyes of Kansas people.
Graduating from an institution which is a competitor with another institution for which one works is a relationship that I can relate to. I encountered this in 1965 when I was employed by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center as their Director of Employment. While I had responsibilities for all phases of employment at the VU Med. Center, most of my time and energies were spent in nurse recruitment. I stayed on the road most of the time and often found myself competing for prospects that were also considering UNC. I even physically recruited at UNC to make the divided loyalties situation worse.
But enough about me. There are several other factors which compose the UNC-KU relationship that need mentioning.
1. Dean Smith attended KU as an undergraduate.
2. Larry Brown- attended UNC as an undergraduate and later became their Head Basketball Coach.
3. Danny Manning- was thought to be leaning to UNC while residing in Greensboro. but left there and attended his senior year of high school in Lawrence, Kansas. His father who was working as a truck driver at the time was given a position on the Kansas basketball staff.
4. Roy Williams selected as the Head Coach at Kansas after having served on the UNC staff as an assistant for several years.
5. Sons of Bob Frederick and Roy Williams added to the UNC basketball team as walk-ons. both with questionable basketball abilities.
6. The belief of a sizeable number of Kansas fans that Roy Williams wouldn't recruit east of the Mississippi out of deference to Coach Smith and UNC.
7. Kansas AD Bob Frederick was the only outside candidate interviewer by the selection committee that recommended Dick Baddour for the job.
Then came the incident that appeared to resolve the on-going question once and for all. "Would Roy Williams heed the call if UNC asked him to return to Chapel Hill? Bear Bryant once described being asked to return to his alma mater as "mama called." Enough said.
Some Kansas people feel like Coach Williams was making a play for players he had recruited for Kansas when he said shortly after accepting the Carolina job that he thought players ought to be able to play where they wanted to play. They read into those words that RW was going to try and convince Padgett that his future was with UNC not Kansas since Padgett had made no secret of the fact that he wanted to play for Coach Williams.
Several other things have occurred which have aggravated the situation that I will mention briefly. Carolina asked for Padgett's release from Kansas approximately two weeks before it was granted. This seems like an unnecessary delay and certainly not one which operated to UNC's recruiting advantage. When Coach Smith called Kansas U. to try and facilitate the release, according to sports reporter Clark Francis, he was treated rudely by the people (unnamed) at Kansas. The only way I see that Francis could have gotten this information would be if Coach Smith divulged his reaction to the treatment he received to someone who passed it on to Francis. I don't believe Francis got this information from Coach Smith directly.
Then a couple of days before Hansbrough was to visit Chapel Hill, all of a sudden, the release for Padgett was received. Incidentally, Kansas is also attempting to recruit Hansbrough. A coincidence? You decide.
Coach Self said the decision was based on Kansas' interests and nothing else.
So you see, what we have here is a mess that is not likely to go away anytime soon. I shudder to think what would happen were Kansas and UNC to meet in the NCAAs. The press would have a field day.
Sometimes, surgery is required rather than medicine, and I think a trip to the operating room is in order with Kansas-UNC. I've never liked the "sister" arrangement, and the biggest problem with it is that both institutions think they are the "big sister." Maybe the day will come when Kansas and Carolina fans will laugh about the current riff, but that day hasn't arrived yet. The time for making up is past and the only solution now is the passage of time. In the meantime, I would strongly suggest that both Kansas and UNC go their separate ways. Some things just ain't meant to be once lines have been crossed. Those lines have been crossed.
For those of you who haven't read the guest book entry titled "The Traitor", maybe you should. It gives the flavor of the controversy from a Kansas viewpoint.