By Professor Jason Lanter
The recent arrest of two KU football players, following a fight that sent two Bloomsburg University students to the hospital, where one remains in a coma, has raised concerns about college sports.
As a vocal critic of college sports due to my involvement with The Drake Group, many people have approached me and asked my thoughts about the situation.
First, let’s hope for a full recovery for both victims, Jackie Lithgow and Donald Hoover, and comfort for their friends and families during this difficult time.
As for this case, I think it’s fair to say the actions by these football players are not representative of the KU students and community. As students, staff and faculty in the KU community, our actions will always reflect on KU. However, we have to realize that college sports can serve as the front door to a university and people’s perceptions of KU may now be tainted by this assault.
College athletes are viewed differently than other college students, and both their successes and mistakes will be magnified. I still wonder if this is a college sport issue or simply painted as a college sport issue in the reporting.
At the same time, we need to realize this case was not one simple mistake but rather a series of poor decisions culminating in an assault. I still have more questions than answers: why were the KU players in Bloomsburg? Why did they go to that fraternity party? What exactly was said, and by whom, preceding the assault?
I am not sure if we will ever get these answers, but knowing this information would be helpful to better understand the events and the decisions made by those involved. Perhaps, once we are able to understand the specifics, we will be able to collectively re-assess the situation and make better decisions on how to prevent these actions in the future.