Kansas State University should fire the student athletes on its football team, women’s basketball team and any others who refuse to play their sports as directed by their programs, or risk the staggering moral and financial costs other universities have suffered.
Two reasons: First, university management is and should be in charge of its athletic and for that matter its academic programs, not the students. This accountability and responsibility is a point that has somehow been lost on those cowardly leaders now in charge of some cities, police departments and even state governments since this, the Summer of the Black Lives Matter Lie.
Second, K-State and its other students and faculty don’t deserve the kind of negative financial repercussions that will follow if the university doesn’t assert that it – not "woke" student narcissists and agitators who have nothing to lose – is in charge.
That case in point should be clear except that 2015- 2016 is, in these Twitter-warped times, a long, long, long time ago.
Ever hear of a place called the University of Missouri?
Let me recap the story of how my dear ole’ alma mater lost the faith and confidence of the parents of Missouri college-students-to-be as well as that of donating alumni due to the the Black Lives Matter disaster of 2015-2016.
In a nutshell, racial unrest on campus around the time of the Ferguson riots led to the Mizzou football team stomping its feet and going on “strike” due to racial tension on campus until former University President Tim Wolfe was fired or resigned. Spineless head football coach Gary Pinkel backed his players instead of firing them and playing the walk-ons from places like Florissant, Mountain Grove Thayer and Koshkonong, who would have done anything to play for Mizzou.
Lacking that, Pinkel and the players should all have been fired for insubordination and the Tigers taken the field that season with the C and D teamers, or simply forfeited their games. Then, Wolfe should have been fired as well because of his ongoing incompetence and cowardice.
To Mizzou’s ill fate, none of that happened. Instead, university management let the whole thing blow up in their faces. Protestors took over the university's famed quadrangle, confronting journalists trying to cover the events, in order to help control the story. In one instance, a communications professor named Melissa Click asked for "some muscle" to throw a photojournalist out of the protest area – on university property, no less.
In the ensuing years black and white enrollment both dropped at Mizzou. Some 4,500 students – 13 percent of enrollment and a number that translated to hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tuition, housing and beer sales – left Columbia. Also lost were donations from disgusted alumni for all manner of university causes. Dorms closed; faculty was cut; the university’s famed agricultural and medical research went undone or was set back. The hemorrhaging of dollars only ceased recently with meagerly recovering enrollment.
K-State, you don’t want to go there. Much better to assert control of your university now and show the world the adults are in charge. Better to make the hard decisions and suffer the immediate consequences rather than capitulate to naive student bullies following Marxist agitators who will throw away the honor of a D1 athletic slot because someone said something that offended them.
Jaden McNeil’s tweet that started the K-State trouble: “Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free for an entire month!” was an off color joke, but only because of the bogus pre-election inflammation cooked up by the Black Lives Matter movement. Sure it’s inappropriate – lots of humor is. But certainly no worse than the old Saturday Night Live breaking news joke: “Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.” If you're too young to remember, Youtube it.
McNeil made a salient point in his own defense: “I condemned George Floyd’s life of violent crime and Twitter gave me a 12 hour suspension for ‘glorifying violence.’ ”
That kind of logic, even if you don’t agree with it, is lost on these modern purveyors of Cancel Culture. Offend me, this new cultural phenomena says, and my mob will force my will on you. Unfortunately there are too many cowards in positions of leadership these days to fight back.
It’s a spooky place for America to be, and it’s incumbent upon heretofore sensible universities like K-State to draw the line. If the Wildcats cave in, the costs – both financial and in basic morality of right and wrong – may be devastating.
-Dane Hicks is publisher of The Anderson County Review in Garnett, Kansas.