Kansas officials sort out fights among athletes

Saturday, September 26, 2009 | 7:02 p.m. CDT; updated 9:05 p.m. CDT, Saturday, September 26, 2009

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas officials are still trying to figure out what happened during a series of altercations between members of the football and basketball teams last week.

They know there were at least two fights and Tyshawn Taylor, a sophomore guard on the basketball team, injured his thumb.


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Beyond that, no one's exactly sure what happened or how it escalated to the point of punches being thrown.

"This might be the most complicated thing I've ever dealt with in my whole life," Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins said before Saturday's football game against Southern Miss, which the Jayhawks won 35-28. "There's all kinds of different issues involved, all kinds of different people involved, and every time I think we have it, another thing pops up."

The first altercation came Tuesday evening, then spilled over into Wednesday. A witness reported that one football player was shoved down a few stairs, and Taylor was taken to the hospital, saying on his Facebook page that he was injured throwing a punch.

The incidents left officials at this normally placid university embarrassed and searching for ways to prevent future altercations.

"We are taking this very, very seriously," Perkins said. "I've heard people say boys will be boys, but, hey, this is not boys will be boys. This is much more serious. It's much more complicated. I think we've got that part down and now we have to drill down to the issues."

Perkins said he met with members of both teams on Wednesday to express his displeasure with the incidents, saying he was "as mad as I've been in a long time."

"There was no question when I left that they knew what I meant, what I said and how I said it," he said. "There was no question what I was going to tolerate and not tolerate. They all know what they've done and are embarrassed by it."

Now comes the healing.

Some of the tension between the teams stemmed from social network postings, including inflammatory and vulgar passages from Taylor that were apparently lyrics from a rap song. Perkins said the university has brought in experts to give athletes guidance on social networking and will step up those efforts.

Perkins also said he will allow the coaches to handle disciplining the players, though he could step in if the situation escalates.

"When a kid makes a mistake, it's easy just to chop him down and beat him down, but that's not really helping him," he said. "It comes to a point where you have to just throw up your hands and say, 'We're done.' But I've taken pride in our coaches that we've always been able to reach out to kids, help kids, get the cup half full."


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