OPINION: Legislators Make WSU vs KU vs KSU Happen
Paul Savage - Thu 01:40 PM 02/07/2013
A state senator wants the University of Kansas and Kansas State men's basketball teams to play Wichita State each year.
I pay taxes…you pay taxes…we all pay taxes. I also love college basketball. What in the wide world of sports does basketball have to do with taxes?
It has to do with W.S.U. playing K.U. and K.S.U. in basketball. The state of Kansas collects taxes from all residents in Kansas and then as part of the overall budget of the State dishes out millions of dollars to all state institutions of higher learning.
As a taxpayer, I am demanding our Representatives and Senators legislate and pass a bill that requires Wichita State, Kansas and Kansas State to play each other in basketball. And while I am wishing…let’s include women’s basketball, volleyball, softball along with baseball.
Oh, I can hear the gnashing of teeth from K.U. fans, particularly from the Northeast part of the state. What does K.U. gain from playing Wichita State in basketball? Plenty if you just stop your outrage at this proposal and think about it.
MONEY…Let’s keep all the revenue from basketball we can in our state. A basketball game between in-state universities will generate thousands of dollars that will stay in the state of Kansas. Why should Kansas pay thousands of dollars of guaranteed fees to San Jose State to come to Lawrence to play? Why should Wichita State pay a huge guaranteed fee to the Charleston Southern to come play in Wichita? Why should Kansas State pay thousands of dollars of guaranteed fees to Texas Southern to come to Manhattan to play? Let’s keep this money in the state of Kansas by paying each other instead of sending this money out of state.
Two of the main reasons K.U. cites for not wanting to play W.S.U. is lost TV revenue and ticket revenue. However, several non-conference games that K.U. plays are not on national or region TV. They are only on the Jayhawk TV network for local broadcast, the equivalent of Cox 22 for W.S.U. Let both local networks broadcast the game if they want. This means that K.U. would not be giving up any TV revenue to play W.S.U. Also, the potential for national TV money will grow as the series grows. We also know K.U. will sell out its usual 16,000 plus seats if they play W.S.U., so K.U. will not lose any ticket revenue. Also, Wichita State could play K.U. and K.S.U. at Intrust Arena, which for K.U. and K.S.U. would be considered a neutral site that can seat 15,000 plus ticket buying fans.
EXPENSES…Playing these intra-state basketball games would tremendously cut the expenses that college basketball teams spend to travel long distances to play in far away states. No airline cost or hotel cost would be incurred. Fewer meals must be bought. It would save thousands of dollars for K.U. to travel to Wichita and for Wichita to travel to Lawrence. The only travel costs to play intra-state games would be a bus rental for the 2 ½ hour trip and a pre-game meal and a meal after the game for the traveling team.
GOOD FOR THE STUDENT-ATHLETES…College basketball players miss enough classes each season as it is. But, when playing in state the traveling team can leave after morning classes, bus to the game site, have a shoot-a-round, play the game and be home that night after the game. The players do not even have to miss any class! And as a bonus, they get to play in-state rivals.
RECRUITING…These intra-state match ups would help keep our Kansas kids in Kansas to play college basketball. If a talented student athlete knows he can play in state and has another game on the schedule that his family and friends can see, it only makes sense that he might want to stay in Kansas and play at Wichita State or Kansas or Kansas State. We have a better chance of keep our home grown talent in Kansas instead of losing kids like Taj Grey to Oklahoma, Brandon Polk to Butler, Adrian Griffin to Seton Hall, Dennis Latimore to Notre Dame, and others over the years, well, you get the idea…we lose too many great student athletes to universities outside of Kansas. Anything we can do to help them stay in Kansas, we need to do.
A NATIONAL REPUTATION…A few basketball season ago, I sat in my office on a Saturday and watched Louisville and Kentucky play a competitive and thrilling basketball game on TV. I sat there and thought to myself…“the state of Kentucky is sure getting a lot of great national attention to their state and enhancing their reputation in college basketball”. The pride of being a Kentucky fan or Louisville fan was so obvious it was oozing out the TV screen. This same reputation and attention can be developed in Kansas, but only by matching up the three Division I college basketball teams in our state.
COME ON LEGISLATORS...There are other states that have passed legislation similar to my proposal. Utah and Kentucky are just two examples and there are others.
Don’t make this any harder than this has to be. This is a no brainer. This legislation can be passed quick and simple. Don’t let this bill get tied up in committee, and then become lost somewhere in the capitol building.
START NOW…Require Wichita State, K.U. and K.S.U. to play each other every year. The game should alternate sites. Play at K.U. one year, then W.S.U the next at Intrust Arena. The same with K.S.U.
How do we, the people of Kansas, make this proposal happen? The old fashion way. Contact your Legislator. This column should be plopped down on every desk of every legislator and our voice should be heard.
As an old football coach, I always told my players, “JUST GET THE JOB DONE”. As a taxpaying Kansan I am saying to the Kansas House and Senate “JUST GET THE JOB DONE”, and do what is right for the state of Kansas, its taxpayers, its student-athletes and its basketball fans. Do the common sense thing and pass a bill requiring all three Kansas Division I teams to play each other.
Paul Savage is the President of the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, and is on the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame Board of Advisers. He also co-hosts an afternoon radio show on KGSO Radio in Wichita.